May 29, 2023

Lines redrawn: TTP threat rising after ceasefire ends

The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for attacks on security forces, police, and anti-polio team personnel after a month-long ceasefire.

The claims had been made days after the proscribed TTP unilaterally announced the end of a month-long ceasefire, alleging the Pakistani government that it had not implemented the decisions agreed upon.

The TTP accused the government of failing to comply with earlier decisions. According to the deal, the two sides agreed that the IAEA would act as a mediator and that the two sides would work together. The members will form committees which will discuss the future course of action and the demands of both the parties under the supervision of the arbitrator.

According to the statement, the government not only failed to implement the decisions reached between the parties but instead security forces raided Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat, Swat, Bajaur, Swabi and North Waziristan, killing and arresting militants.

The ceasefire that was announced on November 9 was unilaterally ended by the Taliban on December 9.

Mufti Noor Wali, head of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said his group had never refused meaningful dialogue and that it was “part of sharia politics”.

He said no progress has been made during the talks, adding that the armed struggle would continue and the next course of action would be announced in case of any breakthrough in the talks. However, sources said that the talks did not break down and some progress was made but suddenly the TTP unilaterally announced the end of the ceasefire.

In September this year, President Dr Arif Alvi had said members of the TTP who were not involved in crime and wanted to abandon the TTP’s ideology and abide by the constitution of Pakistan, would be granted amnesty by the government.

“The government of Pakistan has said that while recognizing those who want to lay down their arms and abide by the constitution of Pakistan, Pakistan will also consider whether to grant them amnesty or not.”

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had also said that the government would be “ready” to pardon the members of the banned TTP if they promised not to be involved in terrorist activities and acknowledge the Constitution of Pakistan.

He said Pakistan was concerned about reports that TTP leaders were being released from prisons after the Taliban took over.

“If the Afghan government can use its influence and talk to the TTP and if the TTP does not take the law into its own hands and do not involve in terrorist activities and we are ready to pardon them even if they surrender,” Qureshi said.

In a statement given to the media outlets, the outlawed outfit spokesperson Mohammad Khorasani said that no decision had been taken by the Pakistani government in this month to make the dialogues a success and it is not possible to continue the ceasefire now. On the other hand, the government has not commented on the matter.

Khorasani said attacks on security forces, police and anti-polio team personnel were carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The two attacks took place in Bajaur, two in North Waziristan and one in Tank district.

Two officers were killed in these attacks. Two security personnel were martyred in an attack on Chacha Kalay in Salarzai Tehsil of Bajaur District, while, in another attack on police mobile vehicle in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan, five policemen and a passerby were injured. Earlier, a security official deputed with polio team deployed in Tank district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was shot dead by unidentified gunmen.

The end to the ceasefire has come as a significant blow to the Pakistan authorities as it brushes apart efforts to safe a peace settlement and closes doorways for constructive engagement between the TTP militants and the federal government going ahead.

While the truce had a visible impact, TTP-led insurgent assaults within Pakistan, which had seen a major increase in recent months, have drastically decreased.

It was also stated on both sides that there may be certain red lines that should not be crossed. From a Pakistani perspective, this includes grouping, re-grouping, safe havens, and militant attacks.

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