Accusing govt of breaching accord, TTP ends ‘indefinite ceasefire’

PESHAWAR: The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has announced an end to the months-long “indefinite ceasefire”, accusing the government of beaching the agreement brokered by the Afghan Taliban.

TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khorasani in a statement on Sunday claimed that Pakistani government made no efforts to make the negotiations successful “so it is not possible to continue the ceasefire”.

The reasons cited by the TTP for ending the ceasefire include non-release of prisoners, continued military operations and lack of communication from the government of Pakistan.

Moreover, the militants claimed that the government released some of their prisoners but re-arrested them “in violation of the agreement”.

On the announcement of the end of the ceasefire, TTP chief Mufti Noor Wali said that they had never refused meaningful negotiations and it is a part of Sharia law.

“But no progress has been made during these negotiations. Therefore, the armed struggle will continue and if the negotiations are successful, the future course of action will be announced later,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

The talks between Pakistan and the outlawed TTP had reached a deadlock as the militant group refused to budge from its demand for the reversal of the merger of erstwhile FATA with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

There has also been a stalemate over the issue of TTP laying down their arms in case of a peace deal, which would enable them to return to their homeland.

Last month, sources familiar with the development had revealed that there had been a series of meetings between the two sides in recent weeks to break the impasse yet there had been no breakthrough made thus far.

In a push to take the process forwards, Pakistan last month sent a second delegation in a week’s time to break the stalemate. Following the visit of a delegation of Ulema led by Mufti Taqi Usmani, a tribal jirga visited Kabul.

The purpose of the Ulema delegation’s visit was to use the good offices of the religious clerics to persuade the TTP to withdraw their demand for FATA merger and other contentious issues.

However, the TTP leadership did not give any firm assurance as Ulema also pressed them to lay down their arms and return to Pakistan.

Usmani had termed his visit positive but did not mention his interaction with the TTP.

“There is a deadlock. And the prospects of a peace deal are not bright,” a source connected to the peace efforts had said.

Pakistan began talks with the TTP in October last year at the request of the Afghan Taliban to seek a political solution to the issue.

The initial contacts led to a one-month ceasefire between the two sides in November but the truce could not last long as differences emerged soon.

The TTP sought the release of prisoners including some hardcore members who were involved in terrorist attacks. Pakistan did release certain TTP members but the process could not move forward.

The breakdown in talks led to a spike in cross-border terrorist attacks by the TTP. In April, two dozen Pakistani security forces were martyred in a series of cross-border attacks. Some of the attacks filmed by the TTP showed the terrorists using sophisticated weapons.

The increase in attacks prompted Pakistan to launch air strikes across the border targeting the TTP’s hideouts. Islamabad also in a rare move issued a stern warning to the Afghan Taliban not to allow the Afghan soil to be used against the neighbouring country.

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