LAHORE - The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) peace talks’ leadership will extend the ceasefire and is likely to make a formal announcement soon as the militant outfit is stuck with the infighting between the pro-peace and anti-peace elements, The Nation has learnt.
The TTP had announced its first ceasefire on March 1 for one month and extended it on April 4 till April 10. However, the TTP groups took five days to develop consensus for extending the ceasefire owing to severe differences over the continuation of the peace talks.
A member of the TTP mediators and negotiating team, when contacted on Thursday, confirmed the development. He said, “The government should take some concrete measures over the issue of noncombatant prisoners to boost the pro-peace group, the one among 43-member militant organisation.”
At the same time a senior member of the government peace committee said, “The two teams of mediators have developed an understanding in the first direct contact that the ceasefire will remain intact till the final outcome of the peace process.” He, however, hinted at the strong possibilities of failure of the peace process with Pakistani Taliban, saying, “The impacts of the infighting between pro-peace and anti-peace groups in the TTP will definitely surface and I fear the possible results of the infighting may derail the peace process. It will become difficult to continue the peace process with one group abiding by the ceasefire and the other camp carrying out activities against the government and the people.”
He was of the view, “A targeted military action thro-ugh special units of the army with the assistance of pro-peace TTP groups to eliminate the anti-peace groups seems to be an appropriate option for the govt if the pro-peace group fails to convince the anti-peace elements.” Yousuf Shah, senior member of TTP mediators’ team, when contacted, said, “I expect strong possibilities of extension in the ceasefire by the TTP negotiating team very soon.”
While avoiding a direct comment over the TTP infighting, he said the peace process would continue and a meeting of the government peace committee with the Taliban team would take place soon.
A veteran member of the TTP, requesting not to be named, said, “The heavy infighting in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) should be viewed as the first major face-off between the pro-peace and anti-peace elements in the 43-member militia. However, the government has seemingly failed to benefit from this opportunity.”
He insisted: “The government should take serious steps concerning Taliban’s noncombatant prisoners to strengthen the position of the pro-peace members of the TTP as failure on this count will give strength to the anti-peace groups.”
He said, “Scores of the TTP militants have been killed during the fierce fighting between the pro-peace and anti-peace groups in SWA, while the gun battle is slowly spreading to all corners of the agency. I see a little chance of peace between the warring groups of the TTP and if the calm is maintained, it will not sustain for long.”
Professor Ibrahim, a senior member of the Taliban talks committee claimed there was a lack of confidence between the government and the TTP leadership. He added the Taliban’s demand for a peace zone and release of noncombatant prisoners had not been met.
NNI adds: He said Corps Commander conference had signaled to accept every decision made by the government but if there are reservations over prisoners' release then Pak Army should participate directly in the dialogue process.