TTP demands prisoner release as condition for talks with govt

The group says release of its prisoners would lay the ground for full ceasefire negotiations


Reuters November 06, 2021
TTP members say ceasefire deadline could be extended if negotiation process progressed successfully. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has demanded that the government release a number of prisoners as a condition for talks aimed at laying the ground for full ceasefire negotiations, multiple sources in the group said.

The group has had two rounds of preliminary talks, facilitated by the Afghan Taliban, a commander based in the Afghan province of Kunar said.

Sources close to the matter said Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the Haqqani Network and the current Afghan Taliban interior minister, was helping the talks.

Also read: CTD arrests TTP men in Islamabad

Last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan told Turkey's TRT television that the government was in talks with parts of the TTP as part of a "reconciliation process".

The release of the prisoners is meant to be a confidence-building measure, three TTP commanders said, adding that the outcome of the talks was still uncertain.

"We aren't too hopeful of the immediate results of the talks but our leaders had demanded the release of prisoners if they are sincere in meaningful negotiations," a TTP commander told Reuters from Afghanistan's Kunar province.

No comment was available from the Pakistani government. The interior ministry, foreign ministry and the ISPR, the armed forces communications wing, did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

According to negotiators, the two sides agreed not to issue statements either supporting or opposing the peace process or against each other till the accord is signed and made public.

Also read: Negotiating with TTP — a different perspective

TTP spokesperson Muhammad Khurasani claimed in a text message the group had "never refused meaningful talks" but that there were no developments on the ground yet.

Another TTP commander said the group's leadership had consulted all factions in the movement, some of which had serious reservations about talking to the government, but he said many ordinary fighters wanted to go home.

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