The deputy chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – reportedly ousted at the weekend by a militant council – still favours peace talks with the government, he told Reuters on Tuesday.
Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, who commands militants in the tribal region of Bajaur, has reportedly been in talks with Islamabad over a peace deal.
Responding to reports about his ouster, Maulvi Faqir said he has never disobeyed the council.
“Whenever I’ve held talks with the government of Pakistan, I’ve held them with the permission and advice of the TTP central leadership,” Maulvi Faqir said from an undisclosed location. “When the Taliban in Afghanistan can talk to America, then why can’t we talk to the government of Pakistan?”
A council which reportedly included TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, ousted Maulvi Faqir, but he said he had “no information on this council, its members, or where its meeting was held”. “Except for Ehsanullah Ehsan, who contacted the media, no important Taliban leader has contacted me.”
The government and the TTP have been in stuttering peace talks for months, with Maulvi Faqir one of the most vocal proponents of negotiations. In December, he said he hoped to sign a peace deal in Bajaur that would be a model for the rest of the tribal areas. However, the TTP chief vehemently opposes talks.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2012.
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