MIRAMSHAH: The proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has extended till April 10 a ceasefire earlier announced by it and expressed the hope that the government would reciprocate its ‘gesture’ with positive steps.
TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told reporters by phone on Friday that “demonstrating responsibility and seriousness for talks the TTP shura once again declares to extend the ceasefire till April 10. We will wait for a positive response from the government side in this regard.”
The month-long ceasefire expired on March 31 and the TTP came up with the announcement after four days of deliberations on whether to extend or end it.
The spokesman asked all militants to “abide by the shura’s decision and postpone their activities against government and security forces during this duration till further orders”.
He said the ceasefire extension demonstrated which side, the government or Taliban, was sincere about peace talks.
“The TTP announced a unilateral ceasefire for a month in response to just a verbal assurance by the government committee.” During the last 10 days of the month-long ceasefire, the government committee held direct talks with the political council of the TTP, he said.
But, he said, negotiators of the government side came empty handed and without any positive response to “comparatively easy and simple conditions set by the TTP”.
The spokesman said that despite all reservations, the TTP political shura had decided to take the dialogue to its logical conclusion, adding that several viable and workable solutions had been put before the government committee to act upon “our two genuine demands -- release of non-combatant prisoners and setting up of a peace zone”.
He alleged that the ceasefire had been violated several times at different places by the security forces and proofs had been given to the government committee.
“For three days since the expiry of the ceasefire deadline, we waited for a positive response from the government as a goodwill gesture but the government has maintained a mysterious silence,” he said.
According to AFP, the TTP spokesman said: “If our demands are not met, a meeting of our shura will be convened to decide the future course of action.”
On Wednesday, the government handed over 19 tribesmen based in South Waziristan, calling them “non-combatant Taliban prisoners”.
But Shahid denied the men had been sought by the group or were its members.