LADHA: A tribal jirga has been set up to arrange talks between the government and ‘Mehsud Taliban’.

Members of the jirga, elders of the Mehsud tribe, will meet commanders of factions of Mehsud Taliban somewhere in Waziristan over the next three days to forge an understanding for a peace accord with the government in the region.

Ikramuddin, father-in-law of Baitullah Mehsud, heads the jirga and Shaw Rang, Matab Khan, Rafah Khan, Maulvi Abdur Rahim, Azizullah, Haji Mohammad, Maulvi Asamullah and Zafar Ali Shah Barki are its members. Two other members will be named later.

Sources said the jirga was empowered to hold talks with all Mehsud factions, including the groups of Khan Said alias Sajna and Shehryar. It will discuss with two little known factions — Shamim group and Hazratullah group also known as Toora Shpa (Black Night) — the matter of a peace agreement like the previous ones reached with Maulvi Nazir and others.

The sources said that the Khan Said and Shehryar groups had ended their differences about three months ago on the intervention of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Maulana Fazlullah. They said Commander Hazratullah and Commander Shamim had also buried their differences for the sake of unity of the TTP.

The formation of the Mehsud jirga is part of the government’s reconciliatory policy towards the Taliban, particularly Mehsud factions.

The sources said the peace initiative was started when a Waziristan tribal jirga was called by the Corps Commander at his office in Peshawar about two weeks ago. The jirga had a one-point agenda of persuading Mehsud Taliban to reach an accord with the government.

They said three secret meetings had been held by the Mehsud tribal jirga with the political agent of Waziristan and they agreed to facilitate talks between Mehsud Taliban and the government.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2014

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