MIRANSHAH: A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban on Saturday denied media reports that the government was holding peace talks with the insurgent group.
Shahidullah Shahid, main spokesman for the umbrella Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group told news AFP that no contacts had been made between the group and any government official.
“I categorically deny the holding of peace talks on any level between the Taliban and Pakistani government,” Shahid told AFP from an undisclosed location.
“No contacts have even been made between us, nor have we received any offer to initiate peace talks” Shahid added.
Information Minister Pervez Rashid had earlier told Dawn that the government was in secret talks with the Taliban.
“Unofficial talks between the government side and Taliban are in progress,” Rashid told Dawn on Friday.
Rashid said the government's main objective was to restore peace and it would do everything possible to achieve that.
“We have to rid the country of the menace of terrorism for which all options would be utilised,” Rashid was quoted as saying.
The BBC Urdu, quoting an unnamed senior government official and a Taliban commander, had also reported the beginning of peace talks.
“It is complete propaganda, the government must make it public if it has any proof of any such talks,” Shahid said.
The reports of peace talks emerged almost two weeks after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made an offer to the extremists in his first televised address to the nation since taking office after winning elections in May.
The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan last Saturday 'removed' a key commander for welcoming Sharif’s call for dialogue.
Asmatullah Muawiya, the head of the Punjabi Taliban, had said the prime minister had shown maturity.