News / Asia

    Pakistani Taliban Announces Cease-Fire to Revive Peace Talks

    FILE - A policeman stands guard outside the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House, where negotiations took place between Pakistani government officials and Taliban negotiators, in Islamabad, February 6, 2014.
    FILE - A policeman stands guard outside the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House, where negotiations took place between Pakistani government officials and Taliban negotiators, in Islamabad, February 6, 2014.
    Ayaz Gul
    An outlawed alliance of extremist outfits, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is commonly referred to as the Pakistani Taliban, says it will observe a one-month cease-fire to allow peace talks with the government to resume.

    Spokesman Shahidullah Shahid announced Saturday the senior leadership of the militant group had instructed all of its subgroups to abide the cease-fire. The militant organization cited a “positive” government response to its proposals for ending the deadlock in the dialogue process.

    FILE - Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, center, flanked by bodyguards, talks to reporters at undisclosed location, Pakistani tribal area of Waziristan, Oct. 5, 2013.FILE - Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, center, flanked by bodyguards, talks to reporters at undisclosed location, Pakistani tribal area of Waziristan, Oct. 5, 2013.
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    FILE - Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, center, flanked by bodyguards, talks to reporters at undisclosed location, Pakistani tribal area of Waziristan, Oct. 5, 2013.
    FILE - Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, center, flanked by bodyguards, talks to reporters at undisclosed location, Pakistani tribal area of Waziristan, Oct. 5, 2013.
    The announcement nearly coincided with reports that gunmen in northwest Pakistan on Saturday killed at least 11 security officers escorting a team of health workers who came to vaccinate children against polio.

    The attack was carried out in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, near the border with Afghanistan.

    It is unclear who was behind the attack.

    The government suspended previous negotiation attempts when insurgents in the northwest said they had killed 23 Pakistani troops.

    Government forces have pounded suspected militant hideouts in the northwest with airstrikes in recent days, and there had been speculation in Pakistan that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was on the verge of ordering a full-scale military offensive against militant bases.

    The Pakistani Taliban has wanted to overthrow the government and establish its own hard-line form of Islam across the country. Militant attacks have killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis.

    New opportunity?

    Government peace negotiators welcomed Saturday's declaration of a cease-fire as a “breakthrough development," and the announcement seems to have injected new life into efforts Sharif has undertaken to bring an end to years of militant violence in Pakistan.

    A government delegation held preliminary talks with TTP intermediaries last month but continued militant attacks against security forces and civilians provoked Sharif to suspend the peace process. He linked its resumption to a declaration of unconditional cease-fire by the militants.

    Former parliamentarian Sami ul-Haq, a Taliban peace negotiator, says the call for a cease-fire offers a new opportunity for both sides to re-engage in peace talks that could lead to an end to bloodshed in the country.

    Both sides “need to avail this God-sent opportunity to build mutual confidence and create a conducive atmosphere for the peace dialogue,” he said.

    However, critics of the peace process such as Ashraf Jahangir Qazi, former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., are warning the government against engaging in talks with an anti-state group.

    “The TTP represents an ideological group which has an idea which it wants to impose on the country by force through any means because it is so sacred, in their eyes, that they will resort to anything," said Qazi. [The government is] surrendering [its] fundamental obligation to protect the people by elevating this group to almost equal status ... and that of course sends extremely negative signals within the country and outside.”

    The TTP is considered a loose alliance of dozens of militant groups with varying agendas and critics are unsure whether the organization can enforce the so-called cease-fire. Critics cited Saturday’s back-to-back explosions in the northwestern tribal district that targeted the polio vaccination team. The attacks killed more than a dozen people, mostly policemen escorting the anti-polio workers.

    Islamist militants are blamed for deadly attacks on polio teams, alleging the campaign against the crippling disease is being used as a tool for spying and the vaccine makes boys sterile. The violence has undermined anti-polio efforts in Pakistan, one of the few remaining countries where the virus persists.

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    by: ali baba from: new york
    March 02, 2014 4:19 AM
    Taliban Pakistani are not looking for peace. All they are looking for is killing, money and Basha Bazi . They may looking for peace for short time to retreat and reorganize their force to fight back. since Saudi and gulf countries are giving money. they can use money to get arm and fight. killing is a enjoyment they want. once the killing is over, , they kidnapped a male child and sexually abuse him .all their crime are with the name of allah

    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    March 01, 2014 11:13 PM
    This is very very sad affairs in Pakistan. The main object to create Pakistan to safeguard interest of MUSLIMS. But what happened in the last 67 years, is infront of whole world. Muslims are not safe in Mosques and other religious places. Where as in India Muslims have full liberty of their religion and faith. There is no police in front of religious places in india. Whereas in whole Pakistan police is to protect Mosques. Shias are the main victim in the last 67 years. They have sacrificed to create a peace ful place for them. I been to Pakistan and saw horrible safety and security position for shias and other minorities. More than 40,000/= shias have been killed bruetly in the name of ISLAM.Islam never teach to use force for others to convert Muslim. But this is going on in Pakistan in the name of islam, Hindu and Chiristians are changing their religion by force, which is totally against the teaching of ISLAM. I donot know why govt is not taking any harsh action whereas whole PAKISTANI are crying for safety against these criminals in the name of ISLAM AND QURAN.

    by: Hussain Naqvi from: Islamabad
    March 01, 2014 9:52 PM
    Since PML (N) brought to the power with the popular votes of terrorists therefore they are negotiating pretending to be safeguarding the people life.Otherwise on the sameday when the terrorists announced their cezier of their activities they killed only 13 innocent security persons.Is this the right course of negotiations? Since the elites are safe therefore they donot care for the massacre of the masses by the terrorists.If the rulers are sincer they should go for full fledged operation against the takfiri forces playing with the lives of innocents.

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