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Peace process with Taliban on in Pakistan?

November 23, 2011 12:59 IST

Conflicting accounts emerged on Wednesday of a possible nascent peace process between Pakistani authorities and the Taliban, with a militant spokesman confirming preliminary peace talks while denying the announcement of a ceasefire.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan led by Hakimullah Mahsud, confirmed that "initial peace talks" had been held with the government but strongly denied that any ceasefire was in place in the tribal areas or in settled districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Ehsan and several unnamed senior Taliban commanders told The News daily they were surprised at media reports of a ceasefire with the government.

They said the Taliban leadership in South Waziristan Agency suspected "some people" wanted to create a misunderstanding among militant factions through "baseless" media reports and weaken their positions.

A close aide to Mehsud told the daily, "Even (on Monday), our fighters in Orakzai Agency attacked military positions and killed a number of soldiers, including officers, and destroyed their vehicles.

"If we have announced a ceasefire, then why are our people still fighting the Pakistani security forces in Orakzai and elsewhere in the tribal areas and districts?"

However, an unnamed Taliban commander told the Dawn newspaper his group had declared a ceasefire in Mehsud-dominated areas of South Waziristan to build confidence with the government for holding peace talks.
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