In a major development, the banned outfit Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Monday ended the ceasefire agreed with the government in June and ordered the militants to stage attacks across the country.
However, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been witnessing terror attacks regularly despite the months-long ceasefire. Therefore, the announcement may not be of a huge surprise for locals.
According a statement issued by the TTP, the military operations are the reason behind the move. “As military operations are ongoing against mujahideen in different areas […] so it is imperative for you to carry out attacks wherever you can in the entire country.”
In this connection, the Taliban especially cited “a series of non-stop attacks” launched by the military in Lakki Marwat district”.
The banned group said it had repeatedly warned the people of Pakistan and “continued to be patient so that the negotiation process is not sabotaged at least by us.”
“But the army and intelligence agencies did not stop and continued the attacks […] now our retaliatory attacks will also start across the country,” the statement claimed.
Special Assistant of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Barrister Saif, who is known for his soft stance on Taliban, earlier this month had stated that the dialogue process with Taliban had come to a halt.
It is worth recalling that talks between Pakistani officials and the militant outfit first started in October last year but broke down in December. However, the process was resumed in May this year, which broke down once again due to a deadlock on the revocation of the merger of erstwhile tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Since then, terror attacks have been on the rise since September after the group’s ceasefire with the army ended. Most of the attacks have happened in and around Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, South Waziristan, and North Waziristan districts in KP.
In October, the Ministry of Interior had warned that more than year-long peace negotiations between the TTP and the government of Pakistan “had come to a standstill”, which had led to unease within the TTP’s ranks.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Bilawal had told a press conference that Pakistan perhaps needed to review internal security policies and decisions.
The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and South Waziristan had always supported peace and confronted terrorism, he noted. “Obviously if they feel, right or wrong, that terrorists are returning, they are protesting which is their right. Our responsibility as the government and the state is to ensure peace, rule of law and the state’s writ.”
“It is time to review decisions we took or we were made to take with regards to internal security and terrorism,” he said.
Bilawal also maintained that there was nothing wrong in admitting that “we were wrong about a few things and right about some other things and re-examine our approach”.