PESHAWAR: Pakistan government has released more than 100 Taliban prisoners as a “goodwill gesture” even though they had not completed six-month mandatory de-radicalisation and rehabilitation programme.
The officials also clarified that the prisoners were not released in compliance with any demand from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is currently engaged in negotiations with the government. “The Taliban prisoners were released as a goodwill gesture,” the official added.
On November 8, the TTP announced in a statement that it had reached an agreement with the government to cease hostilities for one month. “The ceasefire agreement between the Pakistan government and the TTP will remain in effect for one month. It could be extended should the two sides agree,” the group said in a statement. “It would equally apply to both sides.”
Federal Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain also confirmed talks with the TTP which, he said, were being held within the ambit of the Constitution and law of the land. He also confirmed that both sides have agreed to a ceasefire during the talks, facilitated by the interim Afghan government.
The truce was the result of a series of meetings held between the two sides in Afghanistan. Both sides held at least three rounds of talks — one in Kabul and two in Khost – during which they formed committees to take the process forward and try to convert the ceasefire into a permanent peace deal.
The security officials who spoke to The Express Tribune on Monday said that there have been no direct talks thus far between the two sides and that they are engaged through intermediaries.
The Afghan foreign minister also confirmed during a recent visit to Pakistan that they were mediating between the TTP and the Pakistan government. “No individual, but the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is mediating between the government of Pakistan and the TTP,” Amir Khan Muttaqi said.
The Express Tribune reported last week that the TTP made three demands during the exploratory talks which include allowing opening of a political office in a third country, reversal of erstwhile FATA’s merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and enforcement of Islamic shariah in Pakistan.
The official side, however, told the group that these demands were not acceptable. The group was particularly told in categorical terms that enforcement of their version of Islamic law was out of question. Pakistan is an Islamic republic and its Constitution clearly states that all laws in the country have to be in conformity with the teachings of Islam.
The officials also told the TTP that the state of Pakistan could only allow them to restart their lives if they fulfill certain conditions which include accepting the writ of the state, laying down arms, and publicly apologising over the attacks committed by them.