The Pakistani Taliban has announced a one-month cease-fire, in order to resume interrupted peace talks with Pakistan's government.
The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, which is the umbrella organization for Taliban groups in Pakistan, announced the cease-fire Saturday. Talks between the TTP and Pakistan's government broke down last month after an outbreak of violence. (Via Al Jazeera)
Now, it seems the group is eager to restart negotiations. A TTP spokesman told Pakistani media outlets, "The government gave a positive reply to the recommendations we gave our negotiations committee ... and we have been given satisfactory assurance that the recommendations will be implemented." (Via DAWN)
The announcement may have been spurred on by recent reports that Pakistan is planning to launch a renewed ground offensive against the Taliban. One Pakistani official told NBC the military could march on the Taliban by mid-March.
Pakistan's government welcomed the news Saturday, saying the cease-fire could bring the suspended negotiations back on track. But many observers are skeptical about the chances of new negotiations with the Taliban.
For one thing, the announcement comes on the same day a polio vaccination team was attacked, killing eleven police officers and a young boy. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, polio workers are often targeted by the Taliban. (Via BBC)
And the TTP's agreement with the government may not sit well with smaller, regional Taliban groups opposed to Pakistan's government.
A former Pakistan envoy told The Independent, "Historically, the Taliban have only used ceasefire announcements to gain time or for propaganda purposes. ... Anyone in their ranks who genuinely compromises is labeled a traitor and becomes a target himself."
Representatives from both the TTP and Pakistan will meet over the next few days to discuss further steps for potential negotiations.