The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced on Wednesday not to extend the ceasefire it had declared on March 1 and extended on April 4 for another six days. The group, however, said that peace talks with the government will continue.
Senior Taliban intermediary Professor Muhammad Ibrahim said that he and his colleagues would encourage the TTP leadership to continue to cease fire. He reiterated that the Taliban have not disengaged from the dialogue process. At the same time, he called upon the government to take steps for bridging the trust gap.
The government had called off surgical air raids against suspected hideouts of the Taliban in tribal regions after the TTP declared a month-long ceasefire on March 1.
Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid accused the government of failing to make any progress on the Taliban’s demands. “The TTP Central Shura has unanimously decided not to extend the ceasefire,” he said in a statement.
He added, however, that the dialogue process will continue with complete ‘sincerity and seriousness’ that could keep hope alive for a halt in violent attacks. “The TTP will not be reluctant to take serious steps if the government makes some progress on our demands.”
Shahid said the TTP showed ‘complete restraint’ over the army’s ongoing operations during the negotiations that caused huge losses to the Taliban. “We tried to control our colleagues from any provocation and kept our intermediaries informed about the development. We have made it clear to our negotiators that the government’s actions are very harmful for the dialogue process.”
“There has neither been any progress on the Taliban demands for the release of the non-combatant prisoners nor on establishing a peace zone. The government did not even put a pause on the operations against the Taliban,” the TTP spokesman claimed.
Shahid said that while the ceasefire expired six days ago, the government had been mysteriously tight-lipped about the dialogue process. “It seems that the real centre of power is now active and wants to impose decision of its choice on the people,” he added.
He claimed that the Taliban had started dialogue with sincerity and adopted a soft attitude at every phase of the process. “We took all necessary steps that could provide a strong basis for successful dialogue.”
The spokesman said the security forces conducted nearly 100 raids and 25 search operations while “brutal torture of the TTP detainees also continued under the plan.”
“More than 50 of our colleagues were martyred during the 40-day ceasefire,” Shahid claimed, adding that over 200 innocent people were arrested from different areas for links with the TTP.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2014.