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Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan talks with Islamabad: TTP refuses to budge from demand of FATA merger reversal

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has categorically stated that the banned group would not back down from its demand for the reversal of the merger of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

"Our demands are clear and especially the reversal of Fata merger with KP is our primary demand which the group cannot back down from," said Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, chief of the outlawed group during an interview with a YouTuber. The interview, which was made available on YouTube on Wednesday, has been apparently conducted somewhere in Kabul, according to Dawn.

Earlier in a statement the TTP said that "if the Pakistan government and its security agencies want peace, they would have to restore its previous status".

It may be pointed out that the FATA was merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2018 through a constitutional amendment.

The TTP's other demands include the enforcement of the Sharia in Malakand and its extension to the tribal districts.

Negotiations between the government of Pakistan and TTP have been held in Kabul under the auspices of the Afghan Taliban's interim government in the neighboring country. A 57-member jirga comprising elders of major tribes and clans from KP visited Kabul and held talks with the TTP leaders.

TTP had announced ceasefire for an indefinite period. However, security forces kept conducting search and strike operations against militants in the region, particularly in North Waziristan district. Similarly, attacks on security forces also continued.

With an automatic assault rifle kept by his side, the proscribed group chief said that negotiations between the TTP and the government were in progress but no major breakthrough had been made so far.

"The talks have yet to reach a conclusion," said Noor Wali, sporting a traditional black turban. He belongs to South Waziristan and has moved to Kabul for holding talks with the government.

He said that Corps Commander Peshawar and former ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed was holding talks on behalf of the Pakistan government while from the TTP he was leading its delegation.

In May last, Pakistan handed over two top commanders of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the Afghan Taliban, which has been mediating peace talks between the sides, as part of efforts to revive negotiations with the militant group, according to Radio Free Europe.

Muslim Khan and Mehmood Khan were transferred from a military detention facility to the custody of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt, RFE reported.

The move came as a delegation of senior Pakistani military officials arrived in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on May 9 for talks with the TTP leadership.

The TTP has declared an indefinite cease-fire with Islamabad after the latest round of peace talks brokered by Afghanistan's Taliban leaders.

Muhammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the TTP, said the decision on the cease-fire was made after "substantial progress" in talks held in Kabul with a delegation of 50 Pakistani tribal elders. A new delegation of elders arrived in Kabul from Pakistan on May 31 for a fresh round of negotiations.

The ceasefire has resulted in a decline in terrorist attacks, according to Dawn. The TTP has not claimed responsibility for any terrorist attack over the last few weeks, but the Gul Bahadar group has intensified terrorist attacks against the security forces during the ceasefire.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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