Pakistan’s government has agreed a total ceasefire with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group, Information Fawad Chaudhry has announced, noting that talks leading to the move were facilitated by authorities in Kabul.
Speaking on Monday, Chaudhry told reporters that “a complete ceasefire” agreement has been reached and further talks were taking place to ensure a lasting peace. “The talks will focus on state sovereignty, national security, peace, social and economic stability in the areas concerned,” he said, according to local media.
The minister described the move as a “positive development” and said that it would help achieve peace after a long period of conflict, adding that the Taliban, which now rules over Afghanistan, facilitated the talks.
In October, Prime Minister Imran Khan told Turkey’s TRT World that some factions of the TTP were looking for reconciliation and were speaking with the government. “There are different groups that form the TTP and some of them want to talk to our government for peace. So, we are in talks with them. It’s a reconciliation process,” Khan stated.
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It had previously been suggested by Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi that a conditional amnesty for TTP members could be granted if they surrendered their weapons, accepted the state constitution, and refrained from any criminal activity.
Reuters, citing sources, reported on Saturday that the TTP had requested certain prisoners be released as a prerequisite for peace talks.
Despite being weakened by a 2014 Pakistani military campaign which drove the TTP out of its stronghold in North Waziristan, the group still has an estimated 4,000-5,000 fighters, many based across the border in Afghanistan, and has been continually involved in bloody incidents.
The TTP is an ideological twin to the Afghan Taliban and wishes to establish its interpretation of Sharia – a hard-line form of Islamic governance – in Pakistan.
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