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TTP announces ceasefire in S Waziristan till Oct 20

Updated 02 Oct, 2021
The Pakistan army patrols South Waziristan in this Reuters photo from 2009.
The Pakistan army patrols South Waziristan in this Reuters photo from 2009.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has announced a temporary ceasefire between its fighters in South Waziristan and the Pakistan army according to a statement the banned outfit released on Friday.

The statement said TTP's leaders had asked fighters to cease fire until October 20, adding they were engaged in "secret talks" but did not specify with who or what the talks were about.

This follows Prime Minister Imran Khan's interview with TRT World wherein he said his government is in talks with "some" groups of the TTP for reconciliation.

His comments that TTP would be forgiven if they surrender and return to becoming normal citizens has caused much outrage on social media.

Although the TTP issued the statement about the S Waziristan ceasefire on Friday night, TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani denied any talks with the government or chance of ceasefire -- alluding perhaps to reports of cracks within the banned militant outfit.

In an equally interesting move, Ehsanullah Ehsan was heard on a Twitter Space hosted by journalist Azaz Syed as saying the Pakistan government's ceasefire was with itself.

Ehsan, who was once in Pakistan's custody following the TTP's brutal attack on Army Public School in Peshawar in 2014 and then escaped from detention to Turkey, could be heard rejecting news of any ceasefire.

The news of the negotiations with TTP has prompted parliamentarians to ask for a session on the issue, with many expressing concern that such talks were taking place outside the norms of a democratic process.

PPP's Senator Sherry Rehman took to Twitter to ask some tough questions.

BBC journalist Farhat Rabani, who has extensive reporting experience on these issues, wrote a detailed thread on Pakistan's history of negotiating with militants, citing how many failed starting with the Shekai Peace Agreement in 2004, which was the first since anti Pakistan Taliban first surfaced.

Her thread also includes information on the deal signed with then TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud who was killed in a drone strike by the US and how his successor Hakimullah Mehsud strengthened the militant outfit.