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Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, Taliban point man for Pakistani government, is demoted

A Taliban leader thought to be in touch with Pakistani authorities is abruptly removed from power.

Maulvi faqir mohammadEnlarge
Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, who was on Sunday demoted from his position as deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, addressing a crowd in the country's Bajur tribal region in 2008. (Anwar Ullah /AFP/Getty Images)

A top member of the Pakistani Taliban suspected of being in contact with the government was demoted on Sunday, according to the BBC

Deputy commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, the second-highest ranking Taliban official, was removed from power by chief Hakimullah Mehsud at a council meeting, according to the group's spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan

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While no reason given for Mohammad's dismissal, the BBC noted that he was last year accused by the group of being in contact with the Pakistani government. 

Mohammad denied the charges at the time, but the senior Taliban leader reportedly told AFP from an unknown location on Tuesday that the Taliban "might be angry with my talks with Pakistani government," adding that the group had given him permission to conduct the talks.

Observers say the move may reveal a power struggle within the Pakistani Taliban, a group known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). 

Mohammad told AFP he was not previously informed that he would be removed from power. 

A TTP spokesman, meanwhile, told BBC Urdu that the position has not yet been filled. 

The development comes amid an uptick in militant violence, much of it claimed by the Taliban, in northwest Pakistan.

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The Afghan Taliban's supreme leader Mullah Omar, who is believed to be in hiding in Pakistan, allegedly ordered in January that the group halt attacks in Pakistan, according to a report by the agency Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/120307/maulvi-faqir-mohammad-taliban-point-man-pakistani