PESHAWAR: Amid a ceasefire with the government, the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has dismissed reports claiming that over 100 prisoners, detained by Pakistani authorities, have been released as a goodwill gesture.
In a statement shared with media on Tuesday, TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said that the news of the prisoners’ release was not true.
“It is too early to talk about conditions and demands as the committees of the two sides are yet to sit for talks,” said the spokesperson. He added that the outlawed group has not set any conditions for the talks with the Pakistani government.
Earlier on Monday, media reports claimed that the Pakistani government had released over 100 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture. The gesture was allegedly part of the one-month-long ceasefire announced by the TTP on November 8.
The report had claimed that the government prisoners were undergoing a six-month-long de-radicalisation and rehabilitation programme at internment centres.
Govt, TTP hold talks in Khost
Sources familiar with the negotiations process claim that representatives of the TTP and the Pakistani government held talks in Khost, Afghanistan on Monday.
“There was a possibility of releasing five TTP prisoners today. However, it didn’t happen due to some legal issues. The two sides are holding talks again today and there has been no progress till this afternoon,” a source told Bol News.
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According to TTP sources, the two sides had earlier met twice in Khost and once in Kabul for talks facilitated by the Afghan Taliban.
It is understood that Pakistani authorities were supposed to release five top TTP commanders as a confidence-building measure before the ceasefire began.
Among them, names of Molvi Omar, Muslim Khan, Mehmood Khan and Lateefullah Mehsud have emerged in the media. The TTP is yet to share the name of the fifth person.
Reports suggest that Molvi Omar has passed away. While Lateefullah Mehsud, who was an assistant to Hakimullah Mehsud, was arrested in Afghanistan and handed over to Pakistan.
In the earlier sittings in Afghanistan, the TTP negotiating team was led by Qazi Muhammad Ameer Mehsud. Other members of the TTP that were part of the parley included Molvi Faqir Muhammad, who was released from prison after the Afghan Taliban took over Kabul, commander Hilal, Dr Hamood Swati and Mufti Abu Huraira, of the Jamat-al-Ahrar splinter group.
It is understood that legal complications are stopping the Pakistani government from releasing the five prisoners in question.
TTP distances itself from JUI-F activist’s murder
The TTP spokesperson, while denying the news, also distanced the group from any involvement in the killing of Qari Muhammad Ilyas, an activist of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F).
Qari Ilyas was shot dead by unidentified assailants while coming out of the Government High School Number 1 in Khar, Bajaur. He was in the school to appear for an exam for his Masters’ degree.
“We need to clarify again that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan does not target religious organisations. We are still sticking to the ceasefire agreement,” read Khurasani’s statement.