Asia

First day of Pakistan Taliban peace talks concluded

  • 26 March 2014
  • From the section Asia
A Pakistani man carrying a child rushes away from the site of a blast shortly after a car exploded in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.
Thousands have been killed and many more injured in Pakistan's militant violence

A first day of peace talks between the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban has concluded in the tribal region of North Waziristan.

Local media reported that a ceasefire has been extended, but there was no official confirmation from either side.

It was the first direct contact between the two sides since peace moves began last month.

Militants from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been waging an insurgency in Pakistan since 2007.

A team of four Pakistani government representatives travelled to the area near the Afghan border by helicopter.

The talks are the result of an effort by the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to find a way to end the insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.

The BBC's Shumaila Jaffery in Lahore says Mr Sharif is under political pressure to resolve the crisis and that many in Pakistan will push for military action if the talks fail.

The militants, who are fighting for their austere version of Sharia law across Pakistan, have repeatedly rejected the country's constitution. Many observers say that makes any lasting deal unlikely.

The TTP also comprises many factions, which makes a deal complicated to reach.

Since taking office last May, Mr Sharif has come under mounting pressure to bring the violence under control, with many accusing his government of lacking a strategy to deal with the militants, correspondents say.

Earlier this year he said he wanted to end the insurgency by peaceful means, but has indicated that stronger military action will be used if talks fail.

Correspondents say some in Pakistan are worried the talks will only allow the militants time to gain strength and regroup. Previous deals and attempts to engage the Pakistani Taliban in dialogue have all failed.