Pakistani Taliban declares indefinite ceasefire, saying 'substantial progress' in peace talks

Pakistani Taliban declares indefinite ceasefire, saying 'substantial progress' in peace talks
The Pakistani Taliban has battled the Islamabad authorities for over a decade but has recently been participating in talks brokered by Afghanistan's new rulers.
2 min read
Islamabad's forces have been fighting against the Pakistani Taliban for over a decade [AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty-file photo]

The Pakistani Taliban on Thursday declared an indefinite ceasefire with Islamabad, saying "substantial progress" had been made in peace talks in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Since the Afghan Taliban seized power last year, Islamabad has increasingly complained of attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), especially along the mountainous border with Afghanistan.

The TTP is a homegrown movement but shares roots with the new rulers in Afghanistan, who Pakistan has claimed lets its fighters stage assaults from Afghan soil.

In recent weeks peace talks have been brokered by the Afghan Taliban in Kabul, bringing together Islamabad and the TTP, which has battled Pakistani forces for over a decade.

The talks received a boost after a new delegation of tribal elders from Pakistan arrived in Kabul on Tuesday for a fresh round of negotiations with the TTP.

"In the two days of meeting substantial progress has been made and as a result of that the leadership of the TTP has extended the ceasefire until further notice," the militant group's spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said in a statement issued in Kabul.

A truce previously agreed until 30 May for the Islamic festival of Eid had held until now.

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"For taking the negotiations forward further meetings will be held in few days," Khurasani said.

A Pakistani government official who did not want to be named told AFP that the talks held in Kabul were moving in a "positive direction".

The official discussions may be an indication the Afghan Taliban are trying to smooth over rocky relations with Pakistan.

The mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan has long been a hive of militant activity, with the border becoming a source of friction since the Afghan Taliban reclaimed power in August.

Islamabad has made repeated claims its forces have been targeted by fighters across the international boundary.

Last month, Afghan officials said a Pakistani airstrike in eastern Afghanistan killed 47 people.

Pakistan did not comment on the strike but urged the Afghan Taliban to secure Afghanistan's border to prevent militant operations.

The Afghan Taliban called the assault a "cruelty" that "is paving the way for enmity between Afghanistan and Pakistan".

Last year Pakistan conducted peace negotiations with the TTP during a month-long ceasefire, but that truce eventually collapsed.