Pak Taliban refuse to extend ceasefire, will continue talks

Pak Taliban refuse to extend ceasefire, will continue talks
Peshawar, Apr 16: In a major setback to peace talks, the Pakistani Taliban today refused to extend the ceasefire but said they are committed to the process that the government has initiated to find an end the decade-long insurgency.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) at the beginning of March announced a month-long ceasefire. Later, it extended it for 10 days to give the fledgling peace talks a chance. "TTP's central shura or council has unanimously agreed not to extend the ceasefire," the banned outfit said in a statement.

Taliban's announcement has raised concerns on the security front


"However, the talks process will continue with complete sincerity and seriousness, and whenever a clear development comes from the government side, the TTP will not hesitate to respond with a serious move," it said. TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said the Taliban shura took the decision because more than 50 of their activists were killed in custody during the past 40-days and that the justifiable demands of the militant organisation were not met.

TTP Mohmand Agency chief Umer Khalid Khurrsani also issued a statement saying the government was not serious about peace and the only way to implement true Shariah was jihad.

Though the statement did not mention if the Taliban would launch any attacks, today's announcement has raised concerns on the security front. The announcement came three days after Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the peace process was about to enter a "comprehensive" phase.

"Formal comprehensive discussion and talks will start from the next meeting. It will happen in a couple of days," Khan had stressing that there was no deadlock. He said the government would also release 12-13 "non-combatants" as part of confidence-building measures.

The Minister said the country would come to know about the comprehensive agenda of talks after the meeting. Refusing to use the word "ceasefire", Khan said "cessation of violence" is in place but added that the government has intelligence reports that some groups within the Taliban is not too serious about the talks. The Nawaz Sharif government had begun negotiations with the TTP through intermediaries in February to try to end the cycle of violence that has claimed over 40,000 lives.

The umbrella militant group has demanded the release of what they called "non-combatant" prisoners and the establishment of a "peace zone" where security forces would not be present. Talks were a key campaign pledge for Sharif before he was elected to office for a third time last year.


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