Sunday, November 28

Pakistani Taliban to government: release our prisoners before negotiating a ceasefire

Multiple sources in the Pakistani Taliban said that the movement demanded Islamabad to release a number of prisoners as a condition for talks aimed at paving the way for negotiations for a ceasefire.

Three Pakistani Taliban leaders made it clear that the release of prisoners would be a confidence-building measure, adding that the outcome of the talks was still uncertain.

A commander based in the Afghan province of Kunar said that the Pakistani Taliban held two initial rounds of talks, the two of which were facilitated by the Afghan Taliban.

“We are not very optimistic about the immediate results of the talks, but our leaders have called on them to release prisoners if they are sincere in participating in meaningful negotiations,” he added.

Informed sources revealed that Sirajuddin Haqqani – the head of the Haqqani network and the current Afghan Taliban interior minister – is helping in the talks.

It is noteworthy that the Pakistani Taliban is a separate organization from the Afghan Taliban.

The Pakistani Taliban is on the US State Department’s list of terrorist organizations abroad. The movement includes a number of groups that have been fighting the Pakistani government since 2007.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told the Turkish TRT television network – last October – that his government was holding talks with sections of the Pakistani Taliban as part of a “reconciliation process”.

The attacks of the Pakistani Taliban resulted in the deaths and injuries of thousands of Pakistani civilians and military personnel over the years, but a military operation carried out by the Pakistani army in 2014 severely weakened the group and expelled it from its stronghold in North Waziristan.

Nevertheless, it is estimated that the movement has a force of between 4 thousand and 5 thousand fighters, many of whom are stationed across the border in Afghanistan.

A leader in the movement said that its leadership has consulted with all the factions in it, and some of them have serious reservations about holding talks with the Pakistani government. But he made it clear that many regular fighters want to go home.

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