The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) will not extend the month-long ceasefire deal negotiated with the Pakistan government, the militant group has announced, in a major setback to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s efforts to secure a peace agreement with the dreaded outfit waging war against the state for decades. The Pakistani Taliban has been behind many major attacks on Pakistani security forces and civilians over the last 14 years, including the attack on an Army school in Peshawar in 2014 that killed over 150 people, mostly children.
A statement issued by the TTP on Thursday accusing the Pakistan government of failing to honour the decisions, including the release of their fighters. It gave out details of the six-point agreement reached with the government under the aegis of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on October 25, 2021, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The two sides, according to the agreement, had accepted that the IEA would play the role of a mediator and that both sides would form five-member committees each which, under the supervision of the mediator, would discuss the next course of action and demands of each side. Both sides, it said, had also agreed to observe a month-long ceasefire from November 1 to November 30, 2021, and that the government would release 102 imprisoned mujahideen and hand them over to the TTP through the IEA and that both sides would issue a joint statement regarding the ceasefire on November 1, 2021, the report said.
According to the statement, the government not only failed to implement the decisions reached between the two sides but on the contrary, the security forces conducted raids in Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Swat, Bajaur, Swabi and North Waziristan and killed and detained militants. Under these circumstances, it is not possible to extend the ceasefire, the TTP said.
Earlier in an audio message, TTP chief Mufti Noor Wali Mahsud announced an end to the ceasefire and asked his fighters to resume attacks past 12 am. The ceasefire had come into effect on November 9, the report added. In the message, Mufti Noor can be heard as saying that since the TTP has not heard back from the mediators or the government, therefore, past midnight, his fighters reserve the right to resume attacks wherever they were.
The TTP decision to end the ceasefire is a big setback to the government’s efforts to secure a peace agreement with the militants waging war against the state for decades. A lot of informal discussions had taken place between the two sides before and during the ceasefire and certain confidence-building steps had been agreed upon to reassure each other, the sources were quoted as saying by the Dawn.
Afghan Taliban are playing the role of principal mediator between Pakistan and the outlawed militant conglomerate comprising several factions. Under the deal, the government has agreed to release close to one hundred militants being held at de-radicalisation centers’. The first batch of around 12 has already been released. The second batch is expected to be freed in the next few days, to be followed by more in the days and weeks to come, the report said.
Quoting sources, the Dawn reported that during the informal talks, it has been made clear to the TTP that there are certain redlines which are not open to negotiations. The TTP, however, has set its own conditions which among other things include enforcement of Shariah and restoration of tribal areas to their pre-merger status. The ceasefire has remained enforced with no major violations. TTP-led militant attacks inside Pakistan which had seen a dramatic spike in the immediate aftermath of the Afghan Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in mid-August have seen a steady decline, the report said.
These attacks saw a further decrease of 28 per cent since October, when the ceasefire came into effect, according to official statistics of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. TTP was also behind a 2014 attack on an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed 154 people, mostly school children.
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