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Pakistani army, government official deny peace talks with Taliban


09:08, November 23, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Both Pakistani army and government on Tuesday have denied the talks with Pakistani Taliban and have remained silent on reports about a ceasefire announced by a senior Pakistani Taliban commander.

In response to a late Monday report about the talks between Pakistani Taliban and the Pakistani government, a spokesman with Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), a mouthpiece of Pakistani army, said on Tuesday that "Army is not undertaking any kind of negotiations with TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) or its affiliated militant groups."

"Such reports are concocted, baseless and unfounded," said the spokesman, adding that "Any contemplated negotiations or reconciliation process with militant groups has to be done by the government."

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday also denied any talks with the Taliban. However, he said Taliban have sent positive signals for the talks and Taliban should shun violence before the talks are held.

According to the local media reports, Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan also denied the reports about the talks. He told reporters in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar on phone on Tuesday that the United States should stop attacks, Pakistan army must halt operation and Taliban prisoner be released before the talks are to be held.

However, shortly after the denials by the Pakistani army and top government official about the reported talks between Pakistani Taliban and the Pakistani government, there came the news on almost all the local TV channels saying that a senior Pakistani Taliban commander said that the movement had declared a nation- wide ceasefire in support of the peace talks with the Pakistani government and the ceasefire had been in effect for the past month.

As a matter of fact, over the last week also, almost daily clashes between the militants and the security forces have been reported in Pakistan's northwest tribal areas of Orakzai and Kurram as well as in the country's southwest province of Balochistan. Large casualties have been reported on both sides in the clashes.

Local watchers believed that Tuesday's reported ceasefire announcement by Pakistan Taliban could be a story done for serving different purposes.

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