Islamic militants suspend peace talks with Pakistan

April 29th, 2008 - 1:15 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
Peshawar, April 28 (DPA) Pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan Monday said they would call off their peace talks with the government and threatened to resume attacks on security forces. “There was one important point in the peace negotiations which we could not resolve and that was our demand that the government should withdraw forces from North and South Waiziristan and do away with security check posts,” said Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for the country’s umbrella militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The government had refused to withdraw troops and hence the Taliban were unable to continue peace talks.

“From today onwards we are free to attack security forces if they operate against us,” Omar told reporters in Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The TTP is lead by tribal elder Baitullah Mehsud who is believed to have close links with Al Qaeda.

He was also blamed for ordering dozens of suicide bombings, including the one that killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, whose Pakistan People’s Party now leads the government following the February elections.

The newly-elected government last month offered the Islamic militants peace talks.

Some media reports suggested a peace accord was ready to be signed in the tribal district of South Waziristan with Mehsud. It would have required pro-Taliban militants to halt attacks on security forces while regular government troops would gradually be withdrawn from the region.

Local tribesmen were also obliged to expel all foreign militants within one month and pledge not to shelter them in future in their territory, where they fled after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

As a confidence building measure, Mehsud ordered his followers to stop attacking government forces last week.

But Taliban spokesman said the peace negations had completely failed, alleging the government of showing “lack of interest”.

“After discussing in our shura we will design strategy for the future”, Omar said.

However, the NWFP government, led by secular Awami Nationalist Party that thrashed Islamic parties in the Feb 18 elections in the province, shrugged off the statement.

“There are small problems that would be resolved in the coming days and the peace talks will continue,” provincial information minister Sardar Hussain Babak told DPA.

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