Pakistani Taliban announce ceasefire with government
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan announced that it would implement a ceasefire lasting one month in order to continue to conduct peace talks with the Pakistani government. The announcement took place the same day that 11 tribal policemen and civilians were killed in attack targeting a polio vaccination team in Pakistan's northwest.
The announcement of the ceasefire was made in a statement released today by Shahidullah Shahid, the Taliban's main spokesman.
"The [Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] is a responsible organization which works through the consensus of a higher council and an Amir [leader] for decision making," the statement said, according to The Express Tribune. "[T]he decision has been taken in view of the appeal made by the ulema [legal clerics], in honor of the representative committee and for the betterment of Islam and the country."
"The senior leadership of the Taliban advises all subgroups to respect the Taliban's call for a ceasefire and abide by it and completely refrain from all jihadi activities in this time period," the statement continued, RFE/RL reported.
Shadid's announcement occurred as jihadists in the Khyber tribal agency killed 10 Khasadars, or tribal policemen, who were guarding a polio vaccination team, and a child in IED attacks. It is unclear if the attack in Khyber occurred before or after Shadid's statement was issued.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's announced ceasefire takes place after peace talks between the government and the jihadist group collapsed. The Taliban had accused security forces of conducting assassinations and executing prisoners, and in turn executed 23 captured Frontier Corps troops. The military responded by launching airstrikes against the Taliban in North Waziristan, Khyber, and Hangu.
Other jihadist groups in Pakistan are unlikely to adhere to the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's ceasefire. A group of jihadists recently split from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and formed Ahrar-ul-Hind. Although the group said it is still "brothers" with the Taliban, it vowed to continue to conduct attacks inside Pakistan's cities and said it would not abide by any peace agreement. [See LWJ report, Pakistani jihadists form Ahrar-ul-Hind, vow to continue attacks.]
Over the past several years, the Pakistani government and the military have cut numerous peace deals with the Taliban, only to have them collapse. The peace agreements, which have been struck throughout the tribal areas and in Swat and other settled districts in the northwest, required the Taliban to accept the writ of the state and eject "foreigners," or al Qaeda and allied groups, from their areas. But the Taliban have refused to abide by the agreements, and instead have established mini-Islamic emirates while continuing to expand their control into neighboring areas.
Peace agreements are still in effect in South Waziristan in areas controlled by the Mullah Nazir Group, and in North Waziristan with the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group. Both groups, which are not part of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, are considered "pro-government Taliban" by the Pakistani military and government as they do not advocate attacks against the state. The Nazir and Bahadar Taliban groups continue to shelter al Qaeda and other terror organizations, however, and conduct attacks inside Afghanistan.