Islamabad, April 12 IANS | 7 months ago

Another Pakistani militant group has announced it wants to join the ongoing peace talks with the government, a religious leader said Saturday.

The banned Lashkar-e-Islam or the Army of Islam operating in Khyber Agency, has approached a top religious cleric, Maulana Tayyeb Tahiri, chief of Jamaat-e-Ishaat-e-Tauheed Wa Sunnah, which is purely a religious and non-political organization, to contact the government on its behalf,Xinhua reported.

Tahiri has confirmed that the group has requested him to mediate with the government.

Lashkar-e-Islam is blamed for many attacks on security forces, pro-government tribal volunteers and NATO supply trucks.

Haji Mangal Bagh Afridi, leader of the outfit, who has gone into hiding, has been fighting the security forces in the region since 2004 that has claimed thousands of lives.

The group had initially been involved in fighting with another religious group "Ansar-ul-Islam" in Khyber region for years.

The government,however, has not yet responded to the offer.

The dialogue offer is seen very important as it could restore peace in the region and on the main NATO supply route.

The group leader had once struck a deal with the Tehreek-i- Taliban Pakistan (TTP), allowing it to work in Khyber agency after the security forces launched operation against it.

The security forces have able to flush out both the militant groups from most parts of Khyber agency, however, they still control the strategic valley of Tirah, bordering Afghanistan, and Pakistan's Kurram and Orakzai agencies. The militants could easily enter the valley from other tribal regions and Afghanistan.

The first round of direct peace talks between the Pakistan government and the TTP leadership concluded last month.

The second round of the peace talks are not yet confrimed.

(Posted on 12-04-2014)

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