According to reports, Commander Baitullah Mehsud of Pakistani Taliban has stopped peace talks with the government because of the latter's refusal to withdraw army troops from tribal areas.
Baitullah's spokesman Maulvi Umar said on Monday that the talks were stopped because the government had refused to pull out troops from Waziristan, Darra Adamkhel and Swat. He blamed the government for the breakdown in negotiations facilitated by tribal interlocutors.
Baitullah, who heads the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), had last week ordered his supporters to halt their activities in the tribal areas.
"The government was not serious in talks and did not meet the TTP's demand for withdrawing army troops from the troubled areas," Maulvi Umar told journalists on phone from some unspecified place. However, he said, the talks could be resumed anytime if the government started withdrawing troops.
The government has deployed about 100,000 troops to combat terrorists in the tribal region and Swat.
Maulvi Umar said that a tribal jirga mediating between the government and the TTP submitted its report to Baitullah on Monday and him that the government had refused to withdraw forces. "The government's stubbornness has disappointed the negotiators," he added.
A senior official said it was a "pressure tactic" and Baitullah wanted to extract maximum benefit.
Sources said that Baitullah was demanding release of his supporters detained on charges of terrorist activities before reaching an agreement with the government.
Maulvi Umar said that Baitullah wanted to provide a base for the deal and restore lasting peace in the country, but the government had failed to reciprocate.
"The Taliban were hopeful and the peace deal was in the final stage when the government refused to accept our demand that disappointed Baitullah." In reply to question, the spokesman said the TTP had not set any deadline for the withdrawal of troops, but it was the main demand.
He said the militants would stick to their decision of ceasing activities in all parts of the country, but warned that "if the government takes any action against TTP activists, they reserve the right to defence and the responsibility will lie with the government".
Alamgir Bhittani contributed to this report from Tank
Reuters adds: Maulvi Omar said that some "hidden hands" in Pakistani intelligence agencies were acting under the influence of "foreign forces" to subvert the peace process.
"The new government needs to get rid of these hidden hands if it wants peace in Waziristan and other tribal areas," he added.