THE Taliban is negotiating a peace deal with a Pakistani tribe in the northwest, tribal elders said yesterday, that could give militants access to remote strategic areas on the Afghan border.
The talk of a deal between members of the Haqqani network — one of the most dangerous Taliban factions — and the Turi tribe in the Kurram region is likely to raise concerns in the US, which has been demanding Pakistan gets tough with the militants fighting Western forces across the border.
“We are holding talks to end violence and fighting in the region. People have become fed up with fighting,” Sajid Hussain, a member of parliament involved in the talks, told Reuters.
Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes between the Turi tribe and their rivals backed by the Taliban in recent months.
The deal, which has not yet been finalised, could lead to the lifting of the siege of the Turi tribe and release of its members kidnapped by militants and their allies.
But tribal sources said the militants would likely demand the use of roads passing through their territory to the Afghan border though Hussain said the Taliban had not yet made any such demand.
“Even if they do so, we will not accept it,” Hussain said.
Kurram is one of the seven Pashtun tribal regions in Pakistan on the Afghan border, an area widely considered the headquarters of al-Qaida militants and their allies from all over the world.
The region is a strategic prize for Pakistan, the militants and even the US.
It lies opposite Afghanistan’s Paktia, Nangarhar and Khost provinces and is next door to north Waziristan, the main base of the Haqqani network in Pakistan.
Its capital, Parachinar, is just over the mountains from Tora Bora, Afghanistan, which US and Afghan forces assaulted after the September 11 attacks in pursuit of Osama bin Laden.
However, he has never been found and is believed to be hiding in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Analysts say that the proposed deal in Kurram is another sign of the Pakistani government’s eroding control over the lawless tribal lands and it would embolden militants to intensify violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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