Taliban want assurances from govt for ‘ceasefire’

* Want govt to withdraw army troops from Waziristan; release their women, children and elderly people * Yousaf Shah says Taliban have sought time for declaring ceasefire
Taliban want assurances from govt for ‘ceasefire’

ISLAMABAD: The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has sought written assurances from the government regarding end to actions against the Taliban, prior to any ceasefire.
Sources close to the official committee have disclosed that the TTP has serious reservations over government’s actions against the Taliban in all major cities of the country. The group has sought written guarantees from the Pakistan Army, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and has warned that it would not stop its actions unless actions against it are stopped.
The TTP Sunday announced temporary ceasefire in its Shura meeting. A private TV channel reported that the announcement of the decision is expected in the next 24 hours. Taliban also expressed reservations over some of the members of the government’s committee. Earlier on Sunday morning, coordinator of the Taliban-proposed dialogue committee, Maulana Yousuf Shah, said that the Taliban’s political Shura was discussing ceasefire with the government in a bid to end violent activities.
He said the TTP has asked for more time to decide on ceasefire. While speaking to a private news channel, Shah said that hopefully a ceasefire will be agreed upon soon. In the meeting, sources said, the Taliban Shura decided to observe ceasefire and the announcement in this regard is expected in next 24 hours. The sources further said the TTP Shura has demanded withdrawal of army from North Waziristan besides release of their non-combatant companions. Talks with the TTP had made some headway after the group had agreed to cease attacks during the nascent dialogue process, a senior official familiar with the matter had revealed on February 9. However, an attack on a police bus on February 13 that killed 13 police personnel and injured 57 others violated the informal agreement. 
The TTP had claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it an act of revenge for the targeting of its operatives in various parts of the country by security forces. On February 15, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Samiul Haq (JUI-S) ameer and Taliban’s chief intermediary Maulana Samiul Haq had appealed to the government and Taliban to announce a ceasefire. He made this plea while reading out a joint declaration after an ulema and mashaikh peace convention at a Lahore hotel.
Coordinator of the government dialogue committee, Irfan Siddiqui called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad on Sunday and briefed him about the latest updates of talks with the Taliban dialogue committee. He also updated the prime minister about the demands the government committee presented before Taliban negotiating team. Talking to media after the meeting, Irfan Siddiqui said they were waiting for a ceasefire announcement from the Taliban, adding that after a proper reply from the TTP, they would schedule meeting of the committees.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz expressed satisfaction over the performance of the government talks committee. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was also present on the occasion.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Saturday the government had constituted the dialogue committee for holding talks with Taliban with sincerity, adding that killing a single person was tantamount to killing the entire humanity. Talking to reporters abroad the plane while returning to the country from Turkey, the PM said that in order for the dialogue process to progress it is imperative that Taliban stop violent activities. He said that no person with a heart can bear to look at the destructive scenes.
The PM said, “We want to adopt all those ways which lead to peace... if terrorism continues during the dialogue process the several questions would arise in the mind of those seeking peace.” He said that there is complete conformity of views between the government and army regarding dialogue with the Taliban and the army was taken on board before starting the dialogue process.

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