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ISLAMABAD: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has linked extension in the ceasefire with the release of their key men – Mehmood Khan and Haji Muslim Khan – as the banned outfit ended the month-long ceasefire agreement and declared to resume armed activities against the State on December 9.

In a latest audio message, released by the media outlet associated with the TTP, the group’s chief Noor Wali Mehsud maintained that the TTP had never refused to hold “meaningful” dialogue and the recent ceasefire was a result of the peace talks.

“But, we did not enter into the ceasefire without any condition. During the talks, it was agreed that TTP’s men including Mehmood Khan and Haji Muslim Khan would be released, but they weren’t released in spite of understanding between the two sides,” he said.

About any progress in the peace talks and possibility of extension in the ceasefire, he said that there has been “no progress” in the talks.

“However, extension in the ceasefire depends on the situation,” he said, adding that the armed activities would continue. However, he added that in case of any “breakthrough” [in the talks], the group would adopt a “new line of action”.

There has been no official response of the government of Pakistan following the banned TTPs declaration of the end to the month-long ceasefire “agreement” and resumption of militant activities against the State on Thursday.

Earlier on December 9, the TTP through a statement announced an end to the ceasefire which had come into effect on November 9, 2021, accusing Pakistani authorities of reneging on promises made in the initial stages of “peace” talks and continued raids against the TTP militants.

Since then, no official statement has been issued by the concerned quarters engaged with the group in the peace talks. The recent ceasefire truce was believed to be brokered by the Afghan Taliban following formation of the interim government in Afghanistan which is yet to be recognized by the international community, including Pakistan.

A day before the expiry of the ceasefire agreement, the government of Pakistan reportedly released dozens of TTP members who were on “white and grey” lists. However, those released were not among the key prisoners on the list presented by the TTP to the government.

Sources said that the TTP had presented a list 100 key members of the group who are currently in jail. They said that some TTP members who have completed de-radicalization courses but are still in custody or in internment centers for long are being released.

Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar also expressed his inability to make any comment on the latest development or to give a response of the government of Pakistan to the situation after the end of the ceasefire agreement by the TTP.

“I have responded to these questions [in the past too]. I think, it is for those who are responsible and dealing with this issue to pronounce our policy. I don’t have anything to add on this issue from this platform,” the spokesperson said in response to a question during his weekly media briefing on Friday.

On November 8, 2021, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry through a video statement, confirmed that the month-long ceasefire had been agreed upon between the government and the TTP. It was followed by confirmation and a formal declaration of the month-long ceasefire by the TTP.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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