Pakistan Taliban militants claimed Monday that they had ended a fragile ceasefire with the government and directed fighters to attack the country.
Tehreek-et-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a separate entity to the Taliban in Afghanistan, but shares a similar hardline ideology. They have been responsible since 2007 for hundreds of terrorist attacks and thousands of deaths.
TTP released a statement saying that they had shown their patience to ensure the negotiation process was not sabotaged.
“But the army, intelligence agencies and police do not stop the attacks and continue them. So now our retaliatory actions will also begin across the country.”
TTP claimed responsibility less than two weeks ago for the ambush that resulted in the deaths of six police officers in north-west Pakistan. They said they were planning a raid on their local base.
Since Friday, the military has been in the area patrolling to eradicate militants. Helicopter gunships have been bombarding their hideouts.
TTP was established in 2007 by Pakistanis who served alongside Taliban in Afghanistan during the 1990s, before opposing Islamabad’s support for American intervention.
They held large tracts of Pakistan’s rugged tribe belt for a time, imposing harsh Sharia interpretations and patrolling territory 140 km from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital.
After militants attacked a school for army children in 2014, the Pakistani military launched an offensive to stop them. Nearly 150 people were killed, many of them students.
The fighters of the TTP were largely routed to Afghanistan’s neighboring Afghanistan. However, Islamabad claims that the Taliban in Kabul now give the TTP a foothold for assaults across the border.
According to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, Pakistan has seen a 50% increase in militant attacks since Taliban overthrew Afghanistan in 2001.
According to businessmen and politicians in north-west Pakistan, there have been more cases of TTP blackmail.
Islamabad is sensitive to the issue of militants in the region. It has struggled for years to establish a writ.
Analyst Saad Khan (a Peshawar-based retired brigadier) played down the significance and said that the ceasefire was only barely observed.
He said that the Afghan Taliban had assured the entire world that their territory would not be used against any country.
“It is important that we engage in serious negotiations with Afghan Taliban over this issue and make them aware how serious the matter is.”