NORTH WAZIRISTAN: The proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has categorically stated that the insurgent group would not back down from its demand for the reversal of the merger of erstwhile Fata with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“Our demands are clear and especially the reversal of Fata merger with KP is our primary demand which the group cannot back down from,” said Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, chief of the outlawed group during an interview with a YouTuber. The interview, which was made available on YouTube on Wednesday, has been apparently conducted somewhere in Kabul.
Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had recently ruled out the reversal of Fata merger with KP which was done through a constitutional amendment in 2018.
Negotiations between the government of Pakistan and TTP have been held in Kabul under the auspices of the Afghan Taliban’s interim government in the neighbouring country. A 57-member jirga comprising elders of major tribes and clans from KP visited Kabul and held talks with the TTP leaders.
TTP had announced ceasefire for an indefinite period. However, security forces kept conducting search and strike operations against militants in the region, particularly in North Waziristan district. Similarly, attacks on security forces also continued.
With an automatic assault rifle kept by his side, the proscribed group chief said that negotiations between the TTP and the government were in progress but no major breakthrough had been made so far.
“The talks have yet to reach a conclusion,” said Noor Wali, sporting a traditional black turban. He belongs to South Waziristan and has moved to Kabul for holding talks with the government.
He claimed that Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Faiz Hameed was representing the Pakistan government in talks while from the TTP he was leading its delegation.
He said the Afghan Taliban were hosting and facilitating the negotiations. He said if the government showed “seriousness”, then a breakthrough in talks would be possible. He confirmed that the government had released some prisoners, but at the same time, ‘our colleagues are also being arrested’.
“This non-serious attitude on the part of the government can affect the negotiations,” he cautioned. He ruled out the dissolution of the TTP. “A demand which affects the credibility of the movement will be unacceptable to us,” asserted Noor Wali, adding that “appropriate demands” could come under discussion during the negotiations.
Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2022