A temporary but extendable ceasefire between Pakistan and Islamist militants fighting the country’s security forces for decades came into force on Tuesday for one month, raising hopes for a peace deal.
The Pakistani Taliban or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, TTP, an umbrella organisation for more than a dozen Islamist militant groups, said late Monday they would observe the ceasefire and continue negotiating peace.
The statement by the militants came hours after Pakistan’s Information Minister, Fawad Chaudhry, announced that the ceasefire had been agreed with the Taliban.
The Pakistani Taliban followed the same hard line interpretation of Sunni Islam as their Afghan counterpart, which swept to power in Afghanistan in August, but they have a different organisational setup.
Around 80,000 Pakistani civilians and security forces have been killed in suicide bombings, bomb assaults and gun attacks by the Taliban over almost two decades of violence.
The truce was agreed after a series of preliminary talks between Pakistani officials and the Pakistani Taliban that were held in neighbouring Afghanistan, both sides said.
The talks were being facilitated by Afghan interim interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is head of the notorious Afghan Taliban faction the Haqqani network, a group thought to be close to the Pakistani spy agency.
The Pakistani Taliban has allegedly been operating from bases in Afghanistan since it was pushed back from strongholds in Pakistan in a series of military offensives from 2014.
The group was thought to be under the influence of the Haqqani network, which was allegedly based in Pakistan for decades after the previous Taliban government in Afghanistan, was overthrown in 2001.