MIRAMSHAH: The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan announced on Wednesday that it was not extending its ‘ceasefire’, but said it would keep the dialogue option open provided the government took steps indicating ‘clear progress’ on its two key demands.
“The TTP central shura has unanimously decided not to extend the ceasefire”, its spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement, adding that the government had not demonstrated seriousness about Taliban’s demands for creation of a demilitarised peace zone and release of non-combatants.
The announcement was made after two days of deliberations by the central shura, which media reports had earlier claimed focused on clashes between two factions of the TTP in South Waziristan.
The government responded to “a gift of 40 days of ceasefire by the TTP”, the spokesman said, by launching an “operation root out” killing more than 50 Taliban fighters, arresting over 200 people for their alleged links with the TTP, carrying out raids and more than 25 search operations and torturing prisoners.
He accused the government of not bothering to consider what he called Taliban’s ‘reasonable and concrete suggestions’ about a peace zone and release of non-combatants.
He said the TTP had kept the negotiating committee abreast of the situation from time to time and made it clear that ‘violations by the government’ adversely affect peace talks.
Officials said the government had decided to release 12 militants as a confidence-building measure to keep the talks with Taliban going.
However, there is no indication that the government will agree to announce a peace zone in tribal areas to facilitate militants’ movement.
“The mysterious silence from state institutions on the fate of peace talks six days after the expiry of the extended ceasefire makes it abundantly clear that the real powers have become active and they want to impose their own decisions on the nation,” Shahidullah said.