Pakistani tribesmen pushing Taliban to talk peace


"We have to try to find peace. It is not a question of giving them legitimacy. Their forces are there and when they come to the negotiation table they are recognizing the writ of the government,'' provincial information minister Iftikar Hussain, whose son was killed by Taliban insurgents, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Previous agreements between various Taliban factions have collapsed.

The TTP in North Waziristan is looking for talks because it is losing the support of the local people, according to a privately funded think tank in the Pakistani capital devoted to understanding the tribal regions.

"They are weak, there is infighting,'' said Mansour Mehsud, director of research at the FATA Research Center named for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Pakistan's tribal regions have a special status under Pakistani law that allows tribal traditions and customs to rule. Many of the laws and rules applying to the tribal area date back to the early 20th century when the British ruled the subcontinent. Unable to control the tribesmen, the British made agreements that allowed them safe passage through tribal territory.

"They used to have the support of most people but not anymore,'' said Mehsud, who has no relation to the TTP leader although he shares the same tribal links. "People used to think that they would bring justice based on the Quran but instead fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.''

Mehsud said the Pakistani Taliban also were running out of money and that extortion and kidnappings had become one of their biggest sources of income.

A wealthy trader living on the edge of the tribal area, who was afraid to give his name because he feared retribution, said the Taliban swindled thousands of dollars from him. He said he was threatened, his family was terrorized and then a bomb exploded at his home, seriously wounding his niece.

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