The Pakistani Taliban say they won’t extend a ceasefire called to help negotiations with the government but that they’re still committed to the peace talks process.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced a one-month ceasefire at the start of March as the government sought a negotiated end to their bloody seven-year insurgency.
The TTP later extended the ceasefire, but complained there had been “complete silence” from the government since then and hinted that the military was trying to thwart talks.
“TTP’s central shura (council) has unanimously agreed not to extend the ceasefire,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday.
“However, the talks process will continue with complete sincerity and seriousness, and whenever a clear development comes from the government side, the TTP will not hesitate to respond with a serious move.”
The announcement comes three days after Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the process was about to enter a “comprehensive” phase.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government began negotiations with the TTP through intermediaries in February to try to end the Islamists struggle against the state, which has claimed thousands of lives.
The umbrella militant group has demanded the release of what they called “non-combatant” prisoners and the establishment of a “peace zone” where security forces would not be present.
Talks were a key campaign pledge for Sharif before he was elected to office for a third time last year.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan has been in the grip of a home-grown Taliban insurgency since 2007, with more than 6800 people killed in bomb and gun attacks according to an AFP tally.