Militants attack near Pakistan-Afghanistan border
Despite ongoing violence in the North West Frontier Province, Pakistan's new government vows to continue peace talks with the Taliban.
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Welcoming the provincial government's offer for talks, a spokesman for the local Taliban on Friday announced a ceasefire in the district.
The spokesman ... said that provincial government was sincere in its offer for talks, but the real decision-makers were the NWFP governor, the central government and the armed forces who "are killing us at the behest of the American."
He said that the Taliban had decided to stop attacks on civilians and government installations in response to the provincial government's offer for talks.
The government launched similar talks in other areas of the North West Frontier Province, according to the Pakistani paper The News.
Asia Times Online has received information that Pakistani pro-Taliban tribal warlord Baitullah Mehsud – against whom a case has been registered in connection with the assassination of [Benazir] Bhutto last December – will be given compensation money to be distributed among tribals who lost property and men during recent battles with Pakistani security forces. The money is likely to be delivered next week, after which an agreement will be formally signed between Pakistan and Baitullah Mehsud.
The negotiations come at a time when Islamabad is facing increased pressure to crack down on militant activity, amid fears that peace settlements may only provide sanctuaries for Taliban soldiers in their fight against the NATO presence in Afghanistan. The Australian website News Digital Media reports that outgoing NATO commander Gen. Dan McNeill considers Pakistan key to Afghanistan's security.
After a wave of deadly extremist violence, Pakistan has embarked on peace talks with militant groups along its porous border with Afghanistan, which are also said to be involved in unrest here....
"If there is no pressure on insurgent sanctuaries out of reach of security forces in this country, then I think [the insurgency is] likely to grow," [Mr. McNeill] said.
While pressuring the political establishment in Islamabad, Washington continues to supply the Pakistani Army with weapons and equipment. The Associated Press of Afghanistan, a Pakistani news service, reports:
The US Congress Tuesday notified delivery of 10 refurbished F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan. Of the 12 refurbished planes, Pakistan is getting from the United States, two have already been delivered to it.
The country will receive eight jets over two months, four each in June and July this year, while the remaining two F-16s will be delivered subsequently.