The Pakistani Taliban have confirmed that they are in peace talks with the government in Islamabad.
“Our talks are going in the right direction,” Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, the commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan [TTP] in the Bajaur tribal agency, and the deputy commander of the movement as a whole, told the Reuters news agency on Saturday.
“If negotiations succeed and we are able to sign a peace agreement in Bajaur, then the government and the Taliban of other areas such as Swat, Mohmand, Orakzai and South Waziristan tribal region will sign an agreement.”
He said Pakistan had released 145 members of the group as a gesture of goodwill, and the fighters had pledged a ceasefire.
Mohammad also said any deal in Bajur tribal region, which is his main area of strength, could be a “role model” for the rest of the border region.
The commander’s announcement comes amid growing tension between Islamabad and Washington, stoked by Nov. 26 US airstrikes in Afghanistan that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Pakistani-Afghan border.