Lahore, Mar.1 (ANI): A spate of ceasefires between the Pakistani army and government, on one hand and the Pakistani Taliban across northern Pakistan, on the other, are a strategic ploy that could determine the future course of the battle against extremism.
According to the Globe and Mail, the ceasefires should also been seen as an attempt by both the Afghan andakistani Taliban to unify and concentrate their forces for a spring offensive against the expected arrival of 17,000 more U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan.
These fast-moving developments come as the U.S. and NATO struggle to find a common strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan before the NATO summit on April 2.
Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, has sent a letter to the commanders of the Pakistani Taliban, urging them to immediately stop attacks on the Pakistani army.
Omar has followed up on this missive by sending envoys to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) - the tribal belt adjoining Afghanistan - where the Pakistani Taliban leaders are based.
The paper says that his appeal is part of a concerted attempt by al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban leaders such as Jalaluddin Haqqani, calling upon the Pakistani Taliban to unite.
Their efforts have resulted in an unprecedented show of unity by the once divided Pakistani Taliban commanders, who have been fighting Pakistani forces in FATA since 2004. Three major warlords of the region, Baitullah Meshsud and his two rivals Maulvi Nazir and Hafiz Gul have struck up a new alliance called the Shura-e-Ittehad ul Mujaheddin or Council of United Holy Warriors.
They have called for a ceasefire with the Pakistani army in Bajaur, where the army has been carrying out an offensive since last August. Islamabad still has to respond to the offer.
While the government insists the legal change will be only a limited application of Islamic justice through the local courts, the Taliban interpret it as allowing the full application of sharia, affecting all aspects of education, administration and law and order in the region. (ANI)