Islamabad: The Pakistan government and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terror group have agreed on an indefinite ceasefire and continue negotiations to find an end to the nearly two decades of militancy in the tribal border region, the media reported citing informed sources.
The extension in ceasefire, which was to come to an end last night (Monday), indicates significant progress in talks between the two sides in the Afghan capital Kabul, the sources told Dawn news on Tuesday.
They said that the two sides had agreed to extend the ceasefire and continue peace talks following separate meetings with Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund, the Acting Prime Minister of the Taliban-led Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), at his office.
In his meetings with the two sides, Akhund expressed his desire that the talks and ceasefire should be allowed to continue without any cut-off date, the sources told Dawn.
In a subsequent joint meeting, the two sides agreed to extend the ceasefire indefinitely and pursue negotiations to end the conflict that has seen mass dislocation and killings of thousands of people in Pakistan’s tribal region and the country at large.
IEA spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and the TTP’s Muhammad Khurasani had issued statements earlier this month, announcing extension of the ceasefire till May 30.
IEA’s Acting Minister for Interior Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is the central mediator, helped bring the talks back on track, the sources told Dawn news.
An official statement is yet to issued regarding the indefinite extension.
The Pakistan government, sources said, had demonstrated its seriousness by acceding to some of the TTP’s demands and after the IEA suggested it would be important for confidence-building to move from preliminaries to formal and structured negotiations, said the Dawn report.
The release of prisoners and presidential pardon to two key militant commanders, including TTP Swat spokesman Muslim Khan, was one such demand.