PESHAWAR - Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has formally announced on Wednesday that they have decided not to extend ceasefire. However, they said they will continue with the dialogue process with complete sincerity and seriousness.
The Taliban had declared a month-long ceasefire on March 1 and later extended it for 10 days and the extension expired on April 10. Since then the TTP political shura had been meeting to decide whether or not to extend ceasefire further.
In a statement issued to media here, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said that government did not give satisfactory response to their 40-day ceasefire. He alleged that during this period their 50 detained members were killed and their dead bodies were thrown away.
He said that the decision about not extending ceasefire was taken at the Taliban shura meeting held somewhere in North Waziristan Agency. By issuing statement to media, he said that TTP wanted to tell people that who was responsible for the deadlock in the peace process.
Shahidullah Shahid said that reason for not extending ceasefire was the lack of progress from the government towards their demands. He however said that peace process would continue with complete sincerity.
In his detailed statement, the TTP spokesman said that during the 40-day ceasefire, some 200 members of TTP were apprehended from various parts of the country. Moreover, he alleged that some 100 raids and 50 search operations were conducted across the country during the truce. Apart from that, under a plan, the TTP imprisoned men were tortured in jails across the country, he added.
The TTP statement further said that its leadership, despite differences within its ranks over the ceasefire, convinced all the groups and factions and announced ceasefire. But no progress was made by the government side over the initial demands of the TTP which were ‘very genuine’, it said, adding that if the government takes any serious step, the TTP will respond it.
The TTP Mohmand Agency chief Umer Khalid Khurrsani also issued a statement in which he said that government is not serious about peace and the only way to implement true Shariah is jihad.
Meanwhile, talking to media persons, Taliban committee member Prof Mohammad Ibrahim Khan said the decision not to extend the ceasefire by TTP would not affect the dialogue process. “We will continue our efforts in trying to extend the ceasefire, he said, adding Taliban’s reservations had been communicated to the government.
AFP adds:The TTP announcement comes three days after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the process was about to enter a “comprehensive” phase. The umbrella militant group has demanded the release of what they call “non-combatant” prisoners and the establishment of a “peace zone” where security forces would not be present.
The government freed 19 tribesmen based in South Waziristan district last week and on Sunday Khan said 13 more of what he called “non-combatant Taliban” prisoners would be released to help the peace process.
The government has also taken up the issue of the release of a senior academic - Professor Mohammad Ajmal - as well the sons of slain former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in return for its concessions to the TTP’s demands.
Talks were a key campaign pledge for Nawaz Sharif before he was elected to office of prime minister for a third time last year. But some analysts have voiced scepticism about their chances for success, given the Taliban’s demands for nationwide sharia law and a withdrawal of troops from the lawless tribal zones.
Regional deals struck in the past between the military and Taliban have failed and some have accused the militants of using them as a means to regroup and rearm. Not all militant factions are signed up to the peace process - a group calling itself Ahrar-ul-Hind claimed a major attack on an Islamabad courthouse just days after the ceasefire was originally announced. Further evidence of discord within the militant ranks came last week with fierce clashes between rival TTP factions.