Pakistan Reaches Ceasefire With Local Taliban as Peace Talks Continue
Pakistan said it had reached a cease-fire agreement with Tehreek-e-Taliban, the Pakistani offshoot of the Afghan militant group.
(Bloomberg) -- Pakistan said it had reached a cease-fire agreement with Tehreek-e-Taliban, the local offshoot of the Afghan militant group, that has increased attacks and been emboldened by its counterpart coming to power in Kabul.
The group committed to the truce while peace talks between the two sides are ongoing, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a televised speech on Monday. While news reports cited a spokesman for the group saying they’ve agreed to halt hostilities for one month, Chaudhry said the duration would depend on how the talks played out. He gave no other details. The spokesman for the militant group could not immediately be reached for comment.
The agreement with the militants comes just two days after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government lifted a ban on radical Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan to stop its violent street protests.
Making peace with the Taliban affiliate is likely to add to Khan’s political troubles at a time when his government has a very slim majority in the nation’s deeply-divided Parliament. His opposition believes pacts with militant groups will only embolden the country’s hardliners.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, the country’s second-largest opposition group, asked for Parliament to debate the matter and warned that amnesty would allow the militant group to regroup. In the past, similar peace deals with the militants have broken down, with both sides accusing each other of breaching the agreement.
Islamabad is concerned that Taliban control in Afghanistan will heighten instability in the region. In August, 35 militant attacks in Pakistan killed at least 52 civilians, the highest monthly toll since February 2017. Most strikes were attributed to the Taliban offshoot, data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal showed.
This time the Afghan Taliban are facilitating the talks, Chaudhry said, without giving anymore details. Ahmadullah Wasiq, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government, said he had no information on the peace talks or cease-fire.
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