The Pakistani Taliban have declared a cease-fire to encourage peace talks with the government, a senior commander said, a move that appears to show the deadly group’s willingness to strike a deal.
It was unclear on Tuesday whether all the militants claiming to be under the Taliban banner would obey the directive, which the commander said had been in effect for a month. The Pakistani Taliban are believed to be divided into many factions. There has also been significant militant violence in the country in recent weeks.
The Pakistani Taliban, allied with al Qaeda and based in the northwest close to the Afghan border, have been behind much of the violence tearing apart Pakistan over the last 4 and half years. At least 35,000 people have been killed in guerrilla attacks and army offensives.
The Taliban want to oust the US-backed government and install a hardline Islamist regime. They also have international ambitions and trained the Pakistani-American who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York City’s Times Square in 2010.
The commander said the cease-fire was valid throughout the country. “We are not attacking the Pakistan army and government installations because of the peace process,” he said late Monday. The commander is close to Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.