Friday, February 15, 2013
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Five years after setting up an umbrella organization to unite violent militant groups in the nation’s tribal regions, the Pakistani Taliban is fractured, strapped for cash and losing support of local tribesmen frustrated by a protracted war that has forced thousands from their homes, analysts and residents of the area said.
The temperamental chief of the group known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Hakimullah Mehsud, recently offered to start peace talks with the government, raising the prospect of a negotiated end to Pakistan’s war against insurgents in a lawless region that runs the length of the border with Afghanistan.
The group’s offer of sanctuary to Afghanistan’s Taliban has been one of the most divisive issues in U.S.-Pakistan relations and has confounded efforts to get the upper hand against Afghan insurgents.
Pakistan denies providing outright military and financial help to militants fighting in Afghanistan. With 120,000 Pakistani soldiers deployed in the tribal regions, Pakistan has waged its own battle against insurgents that has left more than 4,000 soldiers dead.