Pakistan welcomes the announcement by the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to extend the ceasefire indefinitely. Yesterday, Federal Minister for Information Maryam Aurangzeb told a press conference in Islamabad that talks with the TTP had started in 2021. The talks are being held at the government level, and the Afghan government is facilitating them. The Federal Minister for Information said that the talks included civil and military representation.
“We welcome the ceasefire at the government level. The scope of the talks is constitutional. Whatever the committee decides, it will be approved by the parliament and the government,” she said. Earlier, the TTP had announced on Friday that it would extend the ceasefire until further notice. The talks held in a grand jirga comprising tribal elders and clerics.
According to the TTP statement, further talks will be held in a few days to move the negotiation process forward. However, there have been no official statements about the talks so far, so it is important to know what the demands of both sides are. Before that, let us know the background of these talks.
Negotiation background of Pakistan and TTP
Peace talks have been going on between Pakistani authorities and the banned militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) through the Afghan Taliban government in Afghanistan. Recently, a delegation of more than 40 tribal leaders and clerics had gone to Kabul from South Waziristan, while a delegation from North Waziristan had earlier returned after talks. A tribal leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the delegation from South Waziristan would meet with leaders of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
In addition, according to Taliban sources, the first round of talks took place in the Khost region of Afghanistan, in which a few things were agreed upon. According to him, this included the fact that the Islamic Emirate, i.e. the Afghan Taliban, would play the role of mediator. The release of prisoners was discussed in detail, and the government agreed to release 102 prisoners, including Muslim Khan and Mahmood Khan,
The second round of talks between Pakistani officials and the TTP occurred in Kabul, with mediators from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan acting as mediators.
Ceasefire extension between Pakistan and TTP
The ceasefire was started before Eid and was extended from time to time, but now it has been extended indefinitely, indicating that the talks are moving in the right direction. A TTP spokesman said in a statement on April 29 that the ceasefire would last until 10 Shawwal. The statement called on all activists to fully implement the ceasefire and not take any action. No incident of violence was reported from any part of the country during this period. Even after that, the ceasefire was extended twice by the Taliban for a limited period, but the government of Pakistan remained completely silent.
So far, there have been several rounds of negotiations in Afghanistan mediated by the Islamic Emirate, and these talks have involved various personalities, including military officials from Peshawar. Official sources said talks with the TTP were taking place at the government level, involving figures from various government agencies and tribal leaders. According to sources, the talks are scheduled to reach a logical conclusion by mid-June.
Negotiations, demands, conditions between Pakistan and TTP
A tribal elder, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were trying to resolve the issue. The tribal leader said that the Taliban demanded that the former status of the tribal areas be restored, i.e. the decision to merge with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa be withdrawn and these areas be restored to the status of FATA, i.e. Federally Administered Tribal Areas. ۔
In addition, there are reports that the Taliban are demanding that the army withdraws from the tribal areas; that is, the number of military outposts in these areas should be removed and given a safe place to live. Taliban sources say that the end of integrating the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the main issue being discussed. Other demands include enforcing the Nizam-e-Adl regulation in Malakand Division, including Kohistan and Hazara, eliminating cases against the Taliban across the country, compensating for the damage done by the government and not allowing US drone strikes.
The demands made by the government include, according to Taliban sources, recognition of Pakistan’s constitution, obtaining a license for arms, return of unlicensed arms and dissolving the movement. According to sources, the government has also demanded from the Pakistani Taliban not to have relations with ISIS and to continue the ceasefire.
Taliban sources said the TTP had given eight months to remove military posts from the tribal areas while a tripartite committee would be formed to release the prisoners. There are also reports that two key Taliban prisoners, Muslim Khan and Mahmood Khan, have been released and handed over to the Afghan Taliban, who will be handed over to the TTP after successful negotiations. Taliban sources said that ending the integration of the tribal areas was the main demand of the Taliban, and it would be implemented.
Incidents of violence before the ceasefire
Violence in the tribal areas was on the rise before Eid al-Fitr. Since the establishment of the Taliban government in Afghanistan in August last year, the TTP’s operations in Pakistan have increased. These attacks were an attack on the forces inside Pakistan and on the Pak-Afghan border. Its pressure on the Afghan Taliban increased as Afghan territory was being used against Pakistan, and Afghan officials were informed.In the first four months of this year, where the government has cracked down on militants, there have also been several attacks by the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Claims of these attacks have been regularly circulated in messages on social media.The group claimed to have carried out 39 attacks in March and 54 attacks in April, killing security forces personnel.
Operations against the Taliban have also been carried out at the official level, in which militants have been killed and arrested. The Taliban have carried out the most attacks in North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan.
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