The Foreign Office on Thursday stated that Pakistan was not engaged in any talks with the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The statement from Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch comes days after Taliban Information Minister Zabihullah Mujahid offered to mediate between the TTP and Pakistan due to escalating tensions, particularly after the former terminated a ceasefire last year.
“If Pakistan wants us to mediate, and we know that it is beneficial, we will undoubtedly mediate as it benefits the region and we don’t want war in the region,” Tolo News quoted Mujahid as saying.
The Afghan minister had also denied the presence of TTP in Afghanistan and reiterated that the Islamic Emirate is committed to preventing the use of Afghan soil as a launchpad for attacks on other nations.
At a press briefing today, the FO spokesperson referred to a previous statement made by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, emphasising the clarity of the minister’s position on this matter.
Bilawal had in January this year said that Pakistan’s leadership will not hold talks with terrorist organisations that don’t respect the country’s laws and the Constitution, adding that the former government adopted an appeasement policy towards the TTP.
“The new leadership in Pakistan, both political and military, has been absolutely clear. There will be no talks with terrorist organisations that don’t respect our laws and Constitution,” he had said in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post in Davos, Switzerland.
In April, the Pakistan Army’s spokesperson had also distanced the military from the previous government’s initiative of holding dialogue with the TTP.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry had said that the relationship between the army and the terrorists was only of “kinetic operations”, which would continue until the eradication of terrorism.
The FO spokesperson reaffirmed the stance that no negotiations will take place with those responsible for disrupting peace within the country.
The TTP fallout
After the TTP called off its ceasefire on November 28 last year, Pakistan has been hit by a wave of terrorism, mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but also in Balochistan and the Punjab town of Mianwali, which borders KP. Terror attacks have also reached as far as Islamabad and Karachi.
A report released by the US Institute of Peace (USIP) on Tuesday said Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are unlikely to discontinue supporting militants in Pakistan as they feel that economic troubles prevent Islamabad from launching a major operation against the TTP.
“Amid Pakistan’s economic crisis and the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, the Pakistani Taliban have reemerged as an increasingly potent threat,” warned the report.
Referring to Kabul’s recent criticism of Islamabad’s policies, the report argued that “this undiplomatic rhetoric underscores the Taliban’s determination to continue supporting the TTP, even in the face of intensified pressure from Pakistan”.
USIP argued that the Taliban’s response to being confronted about their support for the TTP “has been to level counter-accusations — which does not signal an impending shift away from that support”.