The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Thursday announced end to the month-long ceasefire with the government, accusing it of failing to honour the decisions reached earlier.
A statement issued by the TTP late in the evening gave out details of the six-point agreement that it said it had reached with the government under the aegis of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” (IEA) on October 25.
The two sides, according to the agreement, had accepted that the IEA would play the role of a mediator and that both sides would form five-member committees each which, under the supervision of the mediator, would discuss the next course of action and demands of each sides.
Both sides, it said, had also agreed to observe a ceasefire from Nov 1 to Nov 30 and that the government would release 102 “imprisoned mujahideen” and hand them over to the TTP through the “IEA and that both sides would issue a joint statement regarding the ceasefire on Nov 1, 2021”.
According to the statement, the government not only failed to implement the decisions reached between the two sides but to the contrary, the security forces conducted raids in Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Swat, Bajaur, Swabi and North Waziristan and killed and detained militants.
“Under these circumstances, it is not possible to extend the ceasefire,” the TTP said.
Earlier in an audio, Mufti Noor Wali Mahsud announced an end to the ceasefire and asked his fighters to resume attacks past 12am. The ceasefire had come into effect on Nov 9.
Mufti Noor can be heard as saying that since the TTP has not heard back from the mediators or the government, therefore, past midnight, his fighters reserve the right to resume attacks wherever they were.
The TTP decision to end the ceasefire is a big setback to the government efforts to secure a peace agreement with the militants waging war against the state for decades.
Official sources had earlier said that both sides had agreed to initiate “formal talks” and had finalised five names of negotiators each. The government negotiating team included two senior civil officers with good experience of having served in conflict zones. While the TTP said it had formed a five-member committee for negotiations, the government, it appears, took time to notify the committee.
A lot of informal discussions had taken place between the two sides before and during the ceasefire and certain confidence-building steps had been agreed upon to reassure each other, these sources said.
Afghan Taliban are playing the role of principal mediator between Pakistan and the outlawed militant conglomerate comprising several factions.
Government officials say Afghan Taliban have offered Pakistani authorities several options but that they prefer that the TTP be engaged through negotiations and persuaded to return to their country in a peaceful manner.
Ceasefire or cessation of hostilities remained enforced with no major violations. TTP-led militant attacks inside Pakistan which had seen a dramatic spike in the immediate aftermath of Afghan Taliban’s takeover in mid-August declined steadily.
These attacks saw a further decrease of 28 per cent since October, when the ceasefire came into effect, according to official statistics of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The only notable exception to the ceasefire violations have been 24 attacks mounted by Hafiz Gul Bahadar (HGB) and TTP-affiliated Aleem Khan Khushali (AKK) in North Waziristan. HGB is not part of TTP and had reached a separate ceasefire agreement.