Pakistani Taliban Commander Sidelined
TEHRAN (Tasnim) -The Pakistani Taliban sidelined a senior commander for welcoming the government's offer to hold peace talks, according to the group's spokesman.
The development exposes a rift within the group and raises questions about the likelihood of negotiations, Aljazeera reported.
The commander, Asmatullah Muawiya, was not authorised to respond to the government's offer, Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman, said on Saturday.
Muawiya has been removed from his position as leader of the Pakistani Taliban's wing from central Punjab province, Shahid said.
Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister who took office in June, campaigned on a platform that included starting peace talks with the Taliban as the best way to end the group's bloody insurgency, which has resulted in thousands of deaths in recent years.
Sharif reiterated his desire to hold negotiations in a speech on Monday, but also said the government would leave open the possibility of using force.
The Pakistani Taliban withdrew on offer to negotiate at the end of May in response to a US drone strike that killed the group's deputy commander.