Islamabad: Pakistan government has agreed on a one-month ceasefire with the banned militant group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the officials said. Pakistan is holding talks with factions of TTP to persuade militants to lay down their arms to ensure peace and stability in the country.
“The government of Pakistan and banned TTP have agreed on a complete ceasefire,” Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a statement, adding that the ceasefire would be extended if the talks continue to make progress. He stressed the dialogue with the TTP was being held “strictly in line with the constitution and the law of Pakistan.”
The peace process is reportedly taking place in Afghanistan, and the neighbouring country’s interim Taliban government has “facilitated the talks,” Chaudhry said. During the talks, the focus will remain on “the state’s sovereignty, national security, peace and social and economic stability”.
TTP spokesperson has also confirmed the ceasefire beginning November 9 will remain in place until December 9.
The country has witnessed a resurgence in terror attacks mostly by TTP on security forces in recent months in which dozens of soldiers have been killed. The negotiations are described as a “significant move” since similar efforts failed in 2014 which prompted Pakistan to launch counter-militancy offensives.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan is an umbrella group of different militant factions and is not related to Afghanistan’s Taliban. TTP is behind numerous terror attacks, which killed thousands of security forces and civilians over the last 14 years, including the most gruesome attack on a school in Peshawar which killed 132 children in 2014.
TTP is one of the most deadly militant groups which experienced a steady decline due to several counterterrorism operations and military offensives by the Pakistan military during which thousands of militants were killed and others forced to flee across the border into Afghanistan. There are around 6,000 TTP fighters based in Afghanistan, according to a UN report.
Last month, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the government is holding talks with factions of TTP and would forgive members who lay down their weapons as part of a “reconciliation process.”
Pakistan is pursuing a surrender and rehabilitation policy to allow militants the opportunity to reintegrate into mainstream society if they lay down their arms.
President Arif Alvi earlier also suggested that the Pakistani government could consider giving amnesty to those members of the TTP who had not remained involved in “criminal activities” and who laid down their weapons and adhere to the country’s constitution.