Have called off talks with Pak govt: Taliban commander



Islamabad: Senior Pakistani Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir has said that his faction has called off talks with the government for "playing tricks" with the militants.

"The government contacted me and some other Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan leaders through intermediaries several times but the contacts were suspended because government officials were not serious," Faqir told PTI by phone from an undisclosed location.

"The Pakistani government is not independent in taking decisions as it is under US pressure. No one can refuse talks but the government has always tricked us," he said.

Faqir was the deputy of TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud and the group's top commander in Bajaur tribal until early this year, when he was removed for his "unauthorised contacts" with the government.

He claimed a religious group had mediated between his faction and the government.

Asked about his sacking as the Pakistani Taliban chief in Bajaur Agency, Faqir claimed that he had requested Mehsud to relieve him after he (Faqir) fled in the face of a military operation in the region in 2009.

However, he contradicted himself by saying that the Taliban 'Shura' or council had asked him to step down.

"I had accepted the Shura decision to resign but I still consider myself a member of the TTP," he said.

Faqir claimed he and his fighters were now operating from the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

However, security forces say he is based in eastern Afghanistan. "We freely move across the border. There is no writ of the Afghan government in the areas where we live," he claimed.

Sources close to the TTP said that the government had re-established contacts with the militant leaders to resume stalled talks.

PTI