Haqqani group in peace talks with Turi tribe | Pakistan Today

Haqqani group in peace talks with Turi tribe

ISLAMABAD: The Taliban are negotiating a peace deal with a Pakistani tribe in the northwest, tribal elders said on Thursday, adding that the deal in this regard 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 Kurram Agency is likely to raise concerns in the US, which has been demanding Pakistan get 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 sources in the tribal areas said the militants would likely demand the use of roads passing through their territory to the Afghan border though Hussain said Taliban had not yet made any such demand.
“Even if they do so, we will not accept it,” Hussain said. Kurram 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.
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. But he has never been found and is believed to be hiding in the mountainous border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
NATO forces in Afghanistan launched a cross-border air raid in Kurram last month, killing two Pakistani soldiers after mistaking them as militants. Most of the Pashtun who live on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border are Sunni Muslims.
But Kurram and neighbouring Orakzai region have a large number of Shia Muslims. Turis are Shias, while the Taliban are Sunnis. The Turi have blocked the Taliban from crossing their territory, preventing the Haqqanis and other Taliban factions from having an easy ride to Kabul.
In response, the Taliban have blockaded Turi territory for more than two years, effectively cutting them off from the rest of Pakistan and laying siege to their lands.

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