Pakistani Officials: No Peace Talks With Taliban

Posted November 22nd, 2011 at 3:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's army has denied media reports that it is holding peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban or its affiliated militant groups.

An army spokesman Tuesday said the reports are “concocted, baseless and unfounded.”

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik also said the government is not in formal peace talks with the Taliban. He told reporters in Quetta that the militant group would have to rid itself of weapons before any negotiations could begin.

The Associated Press reports that the Pakistani Taliban has declared a cease-fire to encourage new peace talks with the government. But AP says it is unclear if all militants loyal to the Taliban will obey it.

On Monday, a top Taliban commander told news agencies that Pakistani officials and the militant group were in preliminary negotiations to explore ways to promote the peace process.

The commander said the talks focused on the South Waziristan tribal region along the Afghan border. He said the Taliban is making demands including the release of prisoners.

The government has achieved previous peace deals with the Pakistani Taliban, but they have largely fallen apart. Critics have said the deals allow the militants to regroup and rebuild their strength to resume fighting the government and foreign troops in Afghanistan.

It is not clear if the Pakistani Taliban are united enough to strike a lasting deal.

Pakistan has come under pressure to eradicate militancy since U.S. special forces in May killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town where he had apparently been living for years.