TTP demands political office in third country, Pakistan govt says not acceptable’

Islamabad, Nov 21 (PTI) The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has asked the Pakistan government to allow it to open a political office in a third country, a demand rejected by Islamabad as unacceptable, according to a media report.

In a series of meetings with the Pakistani authorities during negotiations for a peace agreement, the TTP made three demands, which include allowing the opening of a political office in a third country, reversal of the Federal Administered Tribal Areas merger with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the introduction of Islamic system in Pakistan, the Express Tribune newspaper reported on Saturday.

But Pakistani authorities told the TTP directly and through Taliban interlocutors that these demands were not acceptable, the paper said.

The TTP was particularly told in categorical terms that there was no question of introducing an Islamic system based on their interpretation. Also the terrorist group was told that Pakistan is an Islamic republic and the country’s Constitution clearly states that all laws in Pakistan have to be in conformity with the teachings of Islam, it added.

The Pakistan authorities, in turn, put forward three demands to the TTP.

These include, accepting the writ of the state, laying down arms and issuing a public apology for the terrorists’ acts committed by them. If these demands are met, the authorities said they would consider granting them amnesty, it said.

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had announced that a complete ceasefire had been reached between the government and the TTP. At the same time, Chaudhry had said that the interim Afghan government had facilitated the negotiations – a claim reiterated by the TTP itself.

The government is now trying to use the influence of the Afghan Taliban over the TTP to reach a broader peace agreement and end nearly two decades of militancy in the country.

The TTP, commonly known as Pakistani Taliban, is a banned militant group based along the Afghan-Pakistan border. It has carried out a number of major terror attacks across Pakistan and reportedly been using Afghan soil to plot terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

Last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan disclosed in an interview that his government was in talks with the TTP for “reconciliation” with the help of the Taliban in Afghanistan, drawing criticism from politicians and victims of terrorism.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had defended the government’s move, saying the negotiations are for “good Taliban”.

The Parliament was told during the national security briefing that a final peace deal with the TTP would be struck only after all the conditions are met and traditional jirgas would be employed to make sure they don’t take up arms again, the paper added.

However, opposition parties are not particularly pleased by the outcome of these talks, as the TTP had used similar peace deals in the past to regroup and unleash a wave of attacks across Pakistan.

The Pakistani military had launched a major operation against militants in North Waziristan, the last bastion of the TTP, forcing them to flee into Afghanistan.

But the militants using the sanctuary in the neighbouring country have been launching frequent cross-border attacks, assassinations, fire-raids and bombings in different parts of Pakistan.

When the Afghan Taliban took over Kabul in August, Pakistan handed the new government a list of demands including seeking action against the TTP terrorists operating out of Afghanistan.

The Taliban government, however, instead of taking action against them offered Pakistan its good offices to seek a solution through talks.

Pakistan accepted the offer in the hope that the Afghan Taliban would not act as mediators but guarantors of any peace deal with the TTP.