Taliban denies peace talks with Pakistan
PESHAWAR - The Associated Press
In this file photo, Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, who is known to be deputy chief of the Pakistani Taliban, is seen in Pakistan’s tribal area of Bajur. AP photoA Pakistani Taliban spokesman and another commander have denied yesterday the group is in peace talks with the government.
The militants’ denial of peace talks came a day after Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, recognized by many as the Pakistani Taliban’s deputy chief, announced the group was negotiating with the government. He was the first named commander to confirm talks. Spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan denied Mohammed’s claim, saying there would be no talks until the government imposed Islamic law.
Mullah Dadullah identified himself as the Pakistani Taliban’s chief in the Bajur tribal area. He also denied talks. Maulvi Faqir Mohammed has long been identified as the group’s Bajur head. But he reportedly fled to Afghanistan in recent years to escape army operations.
Asked about the alleged negotiations, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that his government has followed a policy of “dialogue, deterrence and development” to tackle militants who are based in the lawless, Afghan border region.
“That is a continuing process,” he told a local television station. Pakistani officials have earlier stated that they do not talk to militants unless they surrender. Despite pushing for peace talks to end the related insurgency in Afghanistan, Washington is unlikely to support similar efforts to strike a deal in Pakistan.
Ties between the two countries have been on a downward trend all year, and were dealt a massive blow by an airstrike by U.S-led forces in Afghanistan two weeks ago that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The attack triggered fresh anti-Americanism in the country, including within the army ranks.