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In this Oct 5, 2013 photo, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, right, arrives for an interview at an undisclosed location in Pakistan's tribal areas. — Photo by AP
In this Oct 5, 2013 photo, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, right, arrives for an interview at an undisclosed location in Pakistan's tribal areas. — Photo by AP

PESHAWAR: The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has extended the ceasefire until April 10, the group's spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement, adding that the Taliban shura would be meeting after the 10th to decide a future course of action.

The extension comes a day after the interior ministry announced that it had released 19 non-combatant Taliban as a goodwill gesture for bolstering the peace process with the TTP.

In a statement issued to the media, Shahid said the group was awaiting the government's reply on its demands.

Shahid said the Taliban shura has extended the deadline and would sit after April 10 to decide about the future of talks.

He said the Taliban were still awaiting a reply from the government regarding the group’s demands, including the release of non-combatants, but despite the passage of three days above the ceasefire deadline, the government had not yet responded to the TTP.

Shahid said the TTP had ordered its fighters not to carry out any attacks against the government and law-enforcement agencies until further orders.

The page-long statement issued in the Urdu language also said that the TTP wanted to clarify its position before the nation that it was serious about the talks but the response from the government had not encouraging.

It added that despite the fact the government’s peace committee had met the Taliban leadership empty-handed, the Taliban had shown willingness to talk peace.

19 Taliban prisoners freed

The ceasefire extension comes a day after the interior ministry announced that it had released 19 non-combatant Taliban as a goodwill gesture for bolstering the peace process with the TTP.

The interior ministry announced on Thursday that the release of the 19 was the first large batch of people freed since the launch of military operation in South Waziristan in 2009.

A spokesman for the ministry said the prisoners released were non-combatant Taliban belonging to the Mehsud tribe.

The ministry did not release their names. It said three of them had been released on March 21, five on March 25 and 11 on March 28. They were arrested on suspicion or on the basis of intelligence reports.

An official earlier told Dawn that most of the people released had been rounded up during search operations and declared “white” implying that they were innocent. Some of them belong to the Khan Said alias Sajna group which is widely believed to have been in contact with security agencies to cut a peace deal prior to the start of talks with the mainstream TTP.

However, a militant commander told Dawn’s correspondent in Miramshah that those released did not belong to the TTP. They belonged to the Wana-based Maulvi Nazir group which already had a peace agreement with the government, he claimed.

KP governor commends govt efforts for peace

Speaking at a gathering in Peshawar on Friday, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Engineer Shaukatullah said the release of the 19 non-combatant prisoners was a goodwill gesture on part of the government and would help towards conflict resolution.

He said the talks were passing through a crucial phase and efforts were needed to maintain peace.

Shaukatullah added that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was himself supervising the talks’ process which he said was moving forward.

More on this: Govt, TTP agree to extend truce

The Taliban, its fighters most active in the northwest of the country, announced a month-long ceasefire on March 1, but commanders were divided on whether to extend it, saying the government had failed to meet their demands.

They have presented a list of 800 prisoners they want released and have demanded that the Pakistani army withdraw from an unspecified border area near Afghanistan in order to create a “safe zone” for them.

It is not yet clear if the 19 men released recently were on the list of 800 prisoners put forward by the Taliban. Shahid said the Taliban were checking.

Also read: A tricky beginning

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took power last year promising to seek negotiations to end Pakistan's deadly insurgency.

The Taliban are fighting to impose a strict version of Islam across Pakistan and have said they do not recognise the democratically-elected government.

This is the second round of peace talks between the Taliban and the government. A first round in February broke down after a week, when the Taliban bombed a bus full of police then executed 23 hostages from the Frontier Corps.

Comments (21) Closed

Awan Apr 04, 2014 12:12pm

I have a curious question.? So Suppose if the Ceasefire will fail then Taliban will again start killing the Innocent people of Pakistan by using Islam and narrative of American war?

Ravi Dallas TX Apr 04, 2014 12:39pm

I pity Pakistani aam aadmi. When I, an Indian, living in US far away from the problem area, can feel so strong on the way these peace talks are carried out, I can only imagine how much an average Pakistan who has to deal with , live with and suffer from these terror activiites on a regular basis, gets frustrated and feel helpless the way govt is entertaining these criminals.

Saifullah Mahsud Apr 04, 2014 12:45pm

@Awan: Of course they will!!!

Riazullah Baig Apr 04, 2014 12:59pm

19 to-be suicide bombers freed!!

Parvez Apr 04, 2014 01:34pm

So they are proving.......that THEY control the narrative.

Sajjad Ali Gopang Apr 04, 2014 01:54pm

What does it mean non combatant Taliban? if they are non combatant why were these not released before? Release more to show goodwill gesture, this goodwill gesture is like putting Poison in the food and asking people to eat this food.

Javed Apr 04, 2014 02:24pm

@Parvez: Yes they do! because they are smart and in commanding position, pity to our government for their incompetence and defensive approach. After all they have to pay them back for taliban's support in bringing these goofs in power.

zak Apr 04, 2014 02:37pm

Thank you Taliban for giving the PAF and Army another 10 days to prepare for the ' fireworks' you will see displayed-except you will be the target like a month ago. The entire nation is against the Taliban, foreign funded, and when the people are not with you-you have lost. So better make peace and go off to syria, yemen wherever but clear off from here.

Karachi Wala Apr 04, 2014 02:59pm

Instead Govt. it is TTP who is extending? Of course after all they are talking from position of strength. Thank you PML-N, Thank you Imran Khan Sahib

shafiq Apr 04, 2014 03:05pm

What is the credibility of any demands before negotiations ! No concessions unless the decision to establish peace. The surrender of arms comes before any repushma , if there is no satisfactory solution on the surrender of arms and a clear understanding on the acceptance of the Constituti0on of Pakistan, then it is an exercise in futility. If they do not accept the elected government of Pakistan, then why are they engaged in this charade ? The government of Pakistan must brief the Parliament or a committee responsible for such matters. Though not a running commentary.

Syed ( Australia) Apr 04, 2014 03:17pm

TTP extends ceasefire until April 10 looks like a threat to the Armed Forces of Pakistan. The way TTP is dictating to government looks like they are part and parcel of the current Nawaz government. Nawaz is fighting for the TTP inside the parliament and TTP is fighting for the government at all borders of the country. Both supporting each other against the might of the Army. Both have a mission to bring down the image of the Pakistan Armed forces to such a level that people will start hating them. I think enough is enough Armed forces of Pakistan should stand up now as the nation is behind them if they do not react now then quite possible the people support will start to vanish by the time. People are sick of the daily violence and threats from TTP and at the hands of the corrupt politicians. Honestly speaking the last 5 years of Zardari and the last one year of Nawaz has not been able to alleviate the suffering of the people instead they have multiplied thousand time.

Khurram Apr 04, 2014 06:07pm

@Ravi Dallas TX: I am Pakistani living in US and I agree 100% with you Ravi. BTW, good luck in match against SA.

Salim A Apr 04, 2014 07:15pm

Negotiating with these Saudi and Gulf funded terrorists, is like negotiating with murderers, bank robbers, arsonists and rapists. Why not negotiate with anyone who has committed other crimes? This cancer brought to us by Zia, will not go away without a major surgery.

Amjad Wyne Apr 04, 2014 07:24pm

So where is the goodwill gesture for those innocent Pakistanis that lost their lives to TTPs bombs. Does this government represent TTP or the Pakistani nation?

atis Apr 04, 2014 07:25pm

It is like taming a snake-Nawaz Saab would be proven a failed leader practically, but may be gaining politically!

Dias Apr 04, 2014 08:04pm

Very clear who is the BOSS here!

Nafees Ahmed Apr 04, 2014 08:44pm

The govt has released 19 ' non combatant Taliban' , but could not secure release of Dr Ajmal Khan. He must be a combatant!

Raja Soomro Apr 04, 2014 09:17pm

God save the innocent People of Pakistan and destroyed these like criminals

independentthinker Apr 05, 2014 12:02am

You can have negotiations with civilized people - not barbarians. You can have negotiations where there is room for compromise - not when you are at the opposite ends of the pole. You can have negotiations when both parties have something to improve upon and are willing to exchange ideas to better the situation. What do Talibans have to offer? Which of their demands will in fact improve the quality of life of ordinary Pakistanis? If there is nothing - why waste time in negotiations? I understand the U.S. and other Western powers have not be successful in eliminating the Talibans - but remember one thing - they are foreigners, limited in numbers, are in a foreign land, speak different language, have no connection with the locals, etc. Our military is much larger in numbers, speak the same language, are in our homeland, is made up of locals and also, we have the equipment that is far more sophisticated then theirs. All we need is motivation - and we can complete the job. I hope our new military leader will find the courage to face this problem head-on. Our people demand and deserve that action!

Khurram Apr 05, 2014 01:28am

Did they not already break the ceasefire by bombing Musharaf's route?

Salma Apr 05, 2014 04:36am

@Awan: Killing if innocent people is something we will have to learn to live with. Just like rich hire personal armed guards in Karachi, you will have to depend on hired armed guards for a while until eventually people get frustrated and the ability to make money dries up. Then it will be much like Somalia and Sudan. Country will still be there but there may not be an effective administration. Killing is not predicated on any condition. These ceasefire temporarily allow them to regroup. Look what happened poor government released 19 elements. Have you heard about any government doing such thing? If they were really petty criminals then why were they held in prison for long time? Can someone publish what offenses were committed. If a court of law has found them culpable who gave the power to release them. Who has checked where they are now? The release of 19 came with a lot of denial. So whether really it was 19 or 190, only a few know. Who cares about common man anyway. Rich will always know what to do and they will live. Poor why even state? they will also live out of necessity by inventing new ways about how to live. The middle class, will be the one that will be wrecked. They will eventually dwindle and begin to perish. Just like in Somalia's case whether right or wrong people were motivated to take up Sea piracy because people have to live. These were neither rich nor poor. These people are what used to be Somalian middle class.