Pakistan Taliban refuses to extend truce
Insurgents' spokesman says government violated ceasefire
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban leaders at a meeting with the government in March (file picture: AFP Photo/Farook Naeem)
The Pakistani Taliban has refused to extend its 40-day truce, accusing the Nawaz Sharif government in Pakistan of violating the ceasefire and failing to meet their demands, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Shahidullah Shahid, said in a press statement that insurgents would not extend the ceasefire, but that peace talks would continue.
"Taliban have demonstrated extreme restraint despite suffering heavy losses due to a secret operation code-named 'Operation Root Out' under the guise of talks," Shahid alleged.
Shahid charged that more than 200 people were arrested in more than 100 raids conducted against the militant group during the ceasefire, he said, adding that Taliban prisoners were subjected to torture inside jails.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella group of various militant outfits, first announced a 30-day ceasefire on March 1 as a goodwill gesture after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to opt for a negotiated settlement to end the decade-long insurgency, which has killed thousands of people.
The ceasefire was extended for another 10 days after the government released a batch of 19 non-combatant Taliban prisoners.
The statement said that there was no progress on the Taliban's demand to free noncombatant prisoners and the establishment of a peace zone the in tribal areas.
"In case of clear progress from the government side, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan will not hesitate to take a serious step," he said.
Last Sunday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali said that a third round of comprehensive talks would begin with the Taliban central political council in a couple of days. He rejected reports that there was any deadlock in talks with the insurgents.
Professor Ibrahim Khan, a Taliban negotiator, said that efforts would continue to save the fragile dialogue for the sake of lasting peace.
"We will urge both sides to hold their fire and return to the negotiating table," Ibrahim told ucanews.com. He said it was possible that the Taliban could begin fresh attacks.
There was no word from the government, but local media reported that Prime Minister Sharif summoned an emergency meeting of top ministers and military officials to discuss the matter.
The Taliban have been waging a bloody campaign to impose strict Islamic laws and oust Pakistan’s democratically elected government.
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