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Pakistani Taliban extend truce with government in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani Taliban said on Thursday they had extended a ceasefire with the Islamabad government indefinitely, after two days of talks with a delegation of Pakistani tribal elders hosted by the Afghan Taliban.

According to Mohammad Khurasani, spokesman for the illegal group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, the decision was made after “substantial progress” in talks with the 50-member alumni team.

He did not give details and there was no immediate confirmation from the Pakistani government regarding the extension of the truce.

The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group from but allied to the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in their country last August as US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The TTP has led an insurgency in Pakistan for the past 14 years, fighting for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in the country, the release of its government-detained members and a reduction in the Pakistani military presence in former tribal areas. from the country.

Khurasani, the TTP spokesman, said the talks in Kabul would continue in the coming days. There has been no statement from the Afghan Taliban, who in the past have only said they provide neutral ground for the talks.

The Taliban in Afghanistan also encouraged the new Pakistani government to reach a peace agreement with the Pakistani Taliban. The previous truce between the two sides expired on May 30. So far, none of the ceasefires has paved the way for a more permanent peace.

The Pakistani Taliban have for years used Afghanistan’s rugged border regions for hiding and staging cross-border attacks into Pakistan and have now been emboldened by the return to power of the Afghan Taliban.

The group wants Pakistani government forces to withdraw from the former tribal areas of the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, release all TTP fighters held by the government and drop all legal proceedings against them.

The government in Islamabad, meanwhile, wants the Pakistani Taliban to be disbanded and the insurgents to accept the Pakistani constitution and sever all ties with the Islamic State group, another Sunni militant group with a regional affiliate active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. .

Pakistani tribal elders have been sent to Kabul as intermediaries because under Pakistan’s constitution the government cannot negotiate – at least not directly – with those who lead an insurgency against it.

ABC News

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