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Pakistani Group Says It's Mediating Between Taliban, Government

December 16, 2011

A pro-Taliban religious group in northern Pakistan says it is mediating between the government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to end the two sides' "differences," RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

Muhammad Shah Abdali, chief of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Islam group in Pakistan's South Waziristan region, told RFE/RL that his group has already forwarded three main conditions from the TTP to the Pakistani authorities.

Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Islam is a pro-Taliban group that claims it is nonviolent and operating in Pakistan's Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions.

It is struggling for the implementation of Shari'a law.

Abdali said the Taliban preconditions for a cease-fire include the release of all Taliban prisoners, freedom of movement for the Taliban in Pakistan, and the implementation of Shari'a law in the country.

"I want to inform through Radio Mashaal that negotiations between the government of Pakistan and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan are under way. And [the Taliban] has given us three conditions that we want to inform...about."

Abdali added that efforts were also under way to bring all the Taliban groups together for the cease-fire talks.

Maulana Naseeb Khan, the chief of Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Islam in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, confirmed to RFE/RL that his group is mediating between the two sides.

"Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Islam is playing the role of mediator. It depends on the government [of Pakistan]. If the government accepts their conditions, the Taliban is ready [for talks]."

TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, however, denied reports about the government-Taliban negotiations.

Last week, the TTP's deputy leader in the Bajaur tribal agency, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, was quoted as saying that his group is holding negotiations with the government.

But his statement was rejected by another TTP commander named Dadullah and later on by Ehsan, who said it is only Faqir Muhammad's personal view.

A day earlier, Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani announced in Peshawar that his government is ready to hold talks with those Taliban members who agree to lay down their arms and reject terrorism.

"We will not talk to the militants," he said. "And [for talks] they should surrender according to the tribal customs in front of the political agent...and they should denounce terrorism...and extremism...then we invite them to come [for talks]."

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistani_group_mediating_between_taliban_government/24423634.html

Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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