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Mehsud suspends peace talks with Pak govt

By Staff

Islamabad, Jun 29: Pakistan Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud has suspended peace talks with the government after paramilitaries launched an offensive against militants threatening Peshawar on three fronts. "We are suspending peace talks with the government because the government is constantly using force against us," Mehsud told news agencies via satellite telephone.

"The government is not showing any seriousness and is using force against us. But if the government takes any military action we are also ready for martyrdom," he added. Mehsud said that his supporters would not launch any attacks, and denied the government's claims that his supporters had continued attacks despite peace deals and talks.

"The talks can resume when the security forces stop their activities and the government changes its policy," NNI quoted Mehsud as saying.

The warlord's move comes amid mounting pressure on Pakistan to crack down on Taliban militants who have been launching attacks in Afghanistan and expanding their influence in the border areas.

It came hours after Pakistan deployed paramilitary troops for a clean-up operation just outside Peshawar in the Khyber Agency, security officials said.

The district was one of the several areas where militants have tried to impose their sway in defiance of government warnings.

Security officials said Mehsud was more concerned about military operations earlier in the week to clear Taliban fighters loyal to him out of the garrison town of Jandola, in South Waziristan.

Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has been fully empowered by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to take whatever steps necessary on the FATA operation.

Gilani was quoted by the Daily Times as saying that the writ of the state would be maintained at all costs.

Talking to reporters at Peshawar Airport, Gilani said the elements disturbing the law and order situation in the Tribal Areas would be dealt with "iron hand".

The government was taking steps to ensure peace and security in the region, he said, adding that the use of force would be the last option.


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