Cease-fire with local Taliban has ended, confirms Pakistan

Some conditions were non-negotiable for us, operations to ‘get rid of this menace’ will continue, says army spokesman.

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan’s military confirmed on Wednesday that a month-long cease-fire with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella group comprised of several militant outfits, has come to an end.

Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar, who heads the army’s media wing, told a press conference in the northeastern garrison city of Rawalpindi that peace talks with the TTP are “on hold” and military operations against the network are “ongoing.”

The two sides agreed on a cease-fire on Nov. 9 last year.

Several clashes between militants and security forces have been reported since December, mainly in the northwestern North Waziristan district, which borders neighboring Afghanistan.

In response to questions, Iftikhar said the cease-fire was implemented at the “request” of the interim Taliban administration in Afghanistan as a confidence-building measure.

“There were some conditions that were non-negotiable from our side, so there is no cease-fire at the moment,” he said.

“We are continuing with operations and will continue until we get rid of this menace.”

– Afghanistan border fencing

To a query about the ongoing controversy over fencing of the Pakistani-Afghan border, the military spokesman said the project is already 94% complete.

He asserted that Pakistan will continue fencing the border as it aims to “protect (and) not to divide the people.”

Late last month, Pakistani soldiers were stopped from installing a security fence in the eastern province of Nangarhar, the first such incident since the Taliban came to power in mid-August 2021.

Terming the Taliban’s actions “one or two localized problems,” Iftikhar said Pakistan is discussing the matter with the interim Afghan administration.

His comments came just days after Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Islamabad is engaging with the Taliban to “diplomatically” resolve some “confusions” over the fencing exercise.

– ‘No presence of Daesh/ISIS in Pakistan’

The army spokesman rejected reports of the presence of the Daesh/ISIS terror group in Pakistan.

“There are some elements who use the Daesh/ISIS name for publicity. But there is no physical presence of the network in Pakistan,” he asserted.

On the disputed Kashmir region, Iftikhar said the situation along the Line of Control – a de facto border that divides the Jammu and Kashmir valley between Pakistan and India – has “largely” remained peaceful since a cease-fire deal was inked in February last year.

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of the region is also controlled by China.

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