A possible ceasefire announcement by the Tehreek-e-Taliban may be in the offing if their conditions are met by the government, a senior member of the negotiation team nominated by the TTP said on Sunday. The TTP wants more time to decide on a ceasefire, said Maulana Yousuf Shah, a member of the team nominated by the TTP to talk to the government on its behalf.
Shah’s statement comes after a meeting of TTP elders in Waziristan where the possibility of a ceasefire was discussed. The TTP has demanded that its detained members be released and that the Pakistan Army withdraw its forces from parts of the troubled Waziristan areas as pre-conditions to any ceasefire.
However, political quarters have said that the government will not be able to agree to these conditions and the TTP would have to go for some middle ground. Negotiations are now continuing between the TTP and the government. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met the government’s negotiation team in Islamabad on Sunday and gave them instructions to take the talks ahead.
Earlier this week, after an attack on a police van in Karachi which left 13 dead, the government threatened to withdraw from peace talks with the TTP. The TTP had claimed responsibility for the attacks in retailiation of what it called detention its several of its members under a police operation in Karachi.
Soon after, a member of the negotiation team from the government side told reporters privately that the talks would end if the TTP did not give assurance that it would cease such attacks. The government of prime minister Nawaz Sharif is under intense pressure from the army leadership to end the talks and allow a military operation against the militant group.
Saudi crown prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz also arrived in the country on Saturday in what is being seen by some as a move by the Saudis to put pressure on the TTP to talk to the Sharif government. But on Sunday, the TTP asked for more time to decide on a ceasefire.