Pakistan Taliban announces one-month ceasefire; Government confirms peace talks

The Tehreek-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistan Taliban, and the Pakistan government have both separately announced--hours apart from each other--a temporary nationwide ceasefire, which may be further extended with the consent of both parties, as part of the ongoing peace talks to end over a decade-long-insurgency raging in the country’s northwestern part

Nov 09, 2021
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Pakistan Taliban announces one-month ceasefire

The Tehreek-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistan Taliban, and the Pakistan government have both separately announced--hours apart from each other--a temporary nationwide ceasefire, which may be further extended with the consent of both parties, as part of the ongoing peace talks to end over a decade-long-insurgency raging in the country’s northwestern part. 

In what came as the first official confirmation of the peace talks with the Islamist grouping, Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary said, "The government of Pakistan and banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have agreed on a complete ceasefire.” He also confirmed the Afghan Taliban has been acting as a mediator in the talks-- later also confirmed by the TTP. 

Issuing a statement late on Monday, the TTP announced that both sides agreed to observe a ceasefire from 9 November to 9 December, while confirming the peace negotiations. 

The government asserted that talks are held in line with the country’s constitution. "The state's sovereignty, national security, peace in relevant areas, and social and economic stability will be considered during the talks," Fawad was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper. 

Importantly, no details related to talks--of the concessions offered by the government--have been released to the public so far. Local journalists in the region, however, reported the announcement of the ceasefire came after the release of over 100 commanders--mostly from Swat Valley, 300 km north of capital Islamabad-- of the banned group. Neither the government nor the militant group commented on the issue. 

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto, the leader of the PPP, said any initiative towards these talks would "lack legitimacy" without "the approval of the parliament." Importantly, the government has not consulted the parliament before reaching an understanding with the TTP. 

Bilawal also reminded the government that the group has been responsible for the killings of thousands of Pakistan Army soldiers and civilians.  

Earlier reports showed the crucial role Siraj Haqqani, the head of the infamous Haqqani network and known for his close ties with the TTP, played during the negotiations. These delicate talks, which are taking place in Afghanistan, as per reports, also point out the deep trust the Pakistani military establishment poses in the Haqqanis, the most powerful faction within the Afghan Taliban.

It is interesting to note that for years Pakistan had been accusing India and the NDS, the intelligence agency of the erstwhile Afghan government, for harboring and nourishing the TTP on Afghan soil. The government’s latest admission of the active and supportive role played by the Afghan Taliban appears to contradict those very same allegations.

Furthermore, these talks also highlight an often ignored phenomenon--the level of strategic depth acquired by the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan through fraternal ties it had developed with jihadi groups operating against the Pakistan state.   

The Pakistan Taliban is an umbrella organization of separate religiously motivated militia groups, operating under a single command structure in the country’s northwestern part for the establishment of Sharia laws in Pakistan.    

In the past also, there have been numerous failed attempts to reach peace agreements. However, what makes it different this time is the Afghan Taliban, Pakistan’s preferred client, as the rulers of Afghanistan. If talks fail, the TTP would come out with greater strength and a legitimized narrative. And, if it succeeds, “It will be Sirajuddin Haqqani’s greatest service to Pakistan so far,” Ihasanullah Tipu Mehsud, a Pakistan journalist, who covers the conflict, said on Twitter. 
 
(SAM)  

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