An outlawed militant alliance waging terrorist attacks in Pakistan has decided against extending a 30-day cease-fire with the government, accusing the other side of not honoring the terms of the deal.
The so-called Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban, made the announcement Thursday, hours before the temporary pact was to officially end after taking effect on November 9.
The understanding was aimed at paving the way for future talks between the two adversaries, and it was mediated by the new Taliban government in neighboring Afghanistan, where TTP leaders and operatives have long taken refuge. Both sides at the time had agreed to extend the cease-fire depending on the progress in direct negotiations.
But a spokesman for the militant group, Muhammad Khurasani, said in a statement that the government never sent its negotiating team to further the dialogue, nor did it keep its promise of releasing 102 TTP prisoners.
Moreover, Khurasani alleged that Pakistani state security institutions had conducted raids against TTP members despite the truce. “It is not possible for us to extend the cease-fire under the current circumstances,” he concluded.
There was no immediate reaction from the Pakistani government to the militants’ accusations.
Pakistani officials privy to the initial meetings with TTP had insisted the talks were initiated to determine whether the militants were willing to “surrender” to the country’s constitution and lay down their arms.
Pakistan’s national security adviser, Moeed Yusuf, had said late last month in a media interview that the aim of the 30-day cease-fire was to see whether the TTP was serious about engaging in a peace process in line with conditions set by the government.
“The red lines are very much clear; no one would be allowed to challenge the Pakistani constitution, impose their own system of governance or law and resume violent activities,” Yusuf stressed.
TTP has claimed responsibility for carrying out suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks over the past many years, killing tens of thousands of Pakistanis, including security forces.
The violence, however, has significantly decreased in recent years because of sustained Pakistani security operations against TTP bases in areas near the Afghan border, killing thousands of militants and forcing others to flee to Afghanistan.
The United States and the United Nations have designated TTP as a global terrorist organization.
Since regaining power in Afghanistan in August after the withdrawal of foreign troops, Taliban rulers have repeatedly assured neighboring countries and the world at large that no terrorist groups would be allowed to operate and threaten others from Afghan soil.
The counterterrorism pledge is part of a set of international demands the Taliban have to meet to claim much-needed diplomatic recognition for their nascent government in Kabul.
The Taliban have publicly acknowledged they were mediating the talks between TTP and Pakistani government negotiators, saying they have told the militant group that regardless of whether it reaches a deal, it would not be allowed to use Afghanistan’s soil to threaten the neighboring country.
The TTP is known to have given shelter and provided fighters to the Afghan Taliban while they were waging a deadly insurgency against U.S.-led international forces for nearly 20 years. That cooperation, skeptics say, will likely discourage the Afghan Taliban from forcefully evicting TTP operatives if requested to do so by Pakistan.