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Peace talks with Pakistan Taliban at decisive phase: Report

January 03, 2012 19:41 IST
Secret talks between Pakistani security agencies and the local Taliban have entered a "decisive" phase and both sides are hopeful it will lead to a "lasting" agreement to restore peace in the country's restive northwestern tribal region, a media report said on Tuesday.

"We have drawn the broader outlines for a possible accord. And what we're now working on are minor details," an unnamed intelligence official was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

The results of the "year-long" peace process would be unveiled shortly, the official said. "Unlike the past, we are trying to have something workable and implementable this time around," said the official, referring to the failure of three previous agreements between security institutions and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

"These are crucial times...we have to be extremely careful. A slight miscalculation can harm us in a big way," the official said in an apparent reference to changes in the regional war in view of the planned withdrawal of the United States-led foreign forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

The military and the civilian government have denied holding talks with the Taliban. However, several Taliban factions recently came together to form a 'Shura' or council that said it would halt attacks on Pakistani security forces and suicide bombings.

The TTP, which is part of the grouping, has said it will continue attacking security forces while sparing innocent civilians. Senior TTP leaders confirmed that covert talks with the military establishment were reaching a climax and said there were several indications of things moving ahead.

Last month, TTP leader Maulvi Waliur Rehman Mehsud ordered a halt to the training of suicide bombers at several camps in South and North Waziristan, they said. "Now look how effective this thing alone isÂ…it has never happened in four years that the TTP stops training its suicide bombers," said Raqeebullah Mehsud, a young militant commander from Ludha in South Waziristan Agency.

Raqeebullah claimed TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud was not aware of these talks. "He (Hakimullah) is out. At least people here think so," Raqeebullah said.

A security official too confirmed that the military was "rigorously chasing" Hakimullah and his small group into Shawal Valley on the border between South and North Waziristan.

Though it could not be confirmed, some officials said Hakimullah might have crossed into Afghanistan after sudden defections by his loyalists to pro-Pakistan militant groups that have opposed launching attacks in the heartland.

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