Islamabad, Jun 29 (EFE).- The chief of Pakistani Taliban said they will continue attacks on the security forces if the ongoing talks with the government fail, adding that no significant progress has been made so far in the discussions.
Talks between the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Pakistani government have been going on in neighboring Afghanistan, whose government – formed of the Afghan Taliban – has been mediating the talks.
On Jun.2, the TTP unilaterally announced to extend ceasefire with the Pakistani government until further orders.
“It is a matter of fact that if negotiations fail we will continue our sacred jihad in full swing, Allah willing,” Mufti Wali Noor Mehsud also known as Abu Mansoor Asim said while responding to questions sent by media in a video interview released Wednesday.
He said their primary demand was to revoke the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, something that was done in 2018.
“Our demands are clear and especially the end of FATA merger into KPK is our primary demand which we cannot back down from,” Mehsud said.
The TTP chief further said the demands that are deemed reasonable and appropriate can be discussed but they will not compromise on the merger of FATA with KPK as, according to him, it will undermine the credibility and status of the TTP which is “unacceptable” to them.
“We cannot give anyone the power to end our independent and sovereign status at any cost,” the TTP chief added.
Mehsud said the government has been forced to negotiate with TTP because of an increase in their attacks on the security forces.
Pakistan witnessed a surge in terrorist attacks since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in mid-August last year.
The government has often accused the TTP of using Afghan soil for carrying out attacks against them, which Mehsud refuted.
“We are fighting from our own soil so there is no question of deteriorating relations (of Pakistan) with the Afghan Taliban,” Mehsud claimed.
The TTP chief admitted that some of their prisoners were released from government custody, but did not give further details in that regard.
He further said the security forces were continuing raids and arresting their fighters at the same time.
Regarding the talks, Mehsud said he was representing the TTP while Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Faiz Hameed was engaging them on behalf of the Pakistani authorities.
“TTP representatives have directly met General Faiz and the history bears witness that the real ruler in Pakistan is the army,” he said.
Mehsud was named the leader of outlawed TTP, commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban, in June 2018 following the death of his predecessor, Mullah Fazlullah, in an American drone strike in a region bordering Afghanistan.
The United States designated Mehsud as a global terrorist in 2019 for directing deadly attacks against Pakistan. The United Nations Security Council also added him to its Islamic State and Al-Qaida sanctions list in 2020. EFE