| GEO Pakistan|
Taliban, Pakistan in peace talks
| Updated at: 1228 PST, Monday, November 21, 2011|
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Taliban movement, a major security threat to the country, is holding exploratory peace talks with the U.S.-backed government, a senior Taliban commander and mediators told Reuters on Monday.
The discussions are focused on the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border and could be expanded to try to reach a comprehensive deal.
The Taliban, who are close to al Qaeda, made several demands, including the release of prisoners, said the commander. An ethnic Pashtun tribal mediator described the talks as
The United States, the source of billions of dollars of aid vital for Pakistan's military and feeble economy, may not look kindly on peace talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which it has labelled a terrorist group.
Past peace pacts with the TTP have failed to bring stability, and merely gave the umbrella group time and space to consolidate, launch fresh attacks and impose their austere version of Islam on segments of the population.
"Yes, we have been holding talks but this is just an initial phase. We will see if there is a breakthrough," said the senior Taliban commander, who asked not to be identified. "Right now, this is at the South Waziristan level. If successful, we can talk about a deal for all the tribal areas," he said, referring to Pashtun lands along the Afghan border.