Pakistani Taliban militants declare end to month-long ceasefire

Pakistani Taliban militants declare end to month-long ceasefire
Tehreek-e-Taliban has accused Islamabad of breaching a ceasefire agreement

Taliban militants in Pakistan have called an end to a month-long ceasefire in the country and accused Islamabad of failing to respect the terms of the agreement.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is a group separate from the Afghan Taliban, said on Thursday that the Imran Khan-led government broke its promise to release 102 prisoners on 1 November, and had not appointed teams to conduct talks.

Moreover, Pakistani security forces conducted raids even while the ceasefire was in place, the group said in a statement. These raids were conducted on TTP fighters in in the areas of Lakki Marwat, Swat, Bajaur, Dir and Swabi, they added.

“Now let the Pakistani people decide whether it is the TTP or the Pakistani army and establishment that is not abiding by the agreements?” the group said. “In these circumstances, it is not possible to advance the ceasefire.”

The month-long ceasefire was announced on 8 November and was meant to continue until 9 December. Pakistan government spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry had said then that the agreement, which had been facilitated by the Afghani Taliban, could continue if talks progressed.

The Imran Khan-led government was criticised by the opposition in Pakistan for engaging in talks with the militant group.

The TTP wants to overthrow the government in Pakistan and rule through their own brand of Sharia law. Since its formation in 2007, the TTP has killed thousands of people in bombings and suicide attacks.

The group was behind the 2014 attack on a military school in Peshawar that killed 149 people, including 132 children. It had also attacked Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai for promoting girls’ education in the region.

In 2013, around a million people were displaced when Pakistan launched operations in the northwest to clear TTP fighters. These people returned to their homes after 2017 when Pakistan claimed victory against the militants.

The group has recently been emboldened by the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and stepped up attacks on security forces, particularly in the country’s north-west region.

The Taliban groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan, though allied, maintain separate organisation and command structures.

Additional reporting by agencies