The chief of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in an interview, has said the group will not back down from its demand for the reversal of erstwhile-FATA’s merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
“Our demands are clear and especially the reversal of FATA merger with KP is our primary demand, which the group cannot back down from,” Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud told a journalist on YouTube. The demand, previously reported when talks commenced between the TTP and Pakistan’s security establishment in Kabul, has been repeatedly rejected by the incumbent government. Last week, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the merger could not be reversed, as it had been done through a constitutional amendment in 2018.
The talks, however, are ongoing and the TTP has announced an indefinite ceasefire until their conclusion. In his interview, Mehsud stressed that there had been no major breakthrough thus far. “The talks have yet to reach a conclusion,” he said, and appeared to confirm that Peshawar Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed was representing Islamabad in the talks.
The TTP chief also admitted that the Afghan Taliban were hosting and facilitating the negotiations—as previously also maintained by Afghan authorities—adding that a “breakthrough” in talks was only possible if the government responded to its demands with seriousness. He said that while the government had released some prisoners as a confidence-building measure, it was still continuing to arrest “our colleagues.”
One of the reported demands of Pakistan has been the dissolution of the TTP, which Mehsud denied outright. “Any demand which affects the credibility of the movement will be unacceptable to us,” he said, adding that only “appropriate demands” would be considered.