DUBAI/PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban said on Friday the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was not part of their movement and called on the group to focus on reaching peace with the Pakistani government.
The Pakistani Taliban have fought for years to overthrow the government in Islamabad and rule the South Asian nation of 220 million with their own brand of Islamic law. The group has stepped up its campaign against the Pakistani security forces in recent months.
Video footage circulated on social media has shown TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud claiming the group was a branch of the Taliban Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).
Afghan Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied the claim.
“They are not, as an organization, part of IEA and we don’t share the same objectives,” Mujahid told Arab News.
“We advise TTP to focus on peace and stability in their country. This is very important so they can prevent any chance for enemies to interfere in the region and in Pakistan. And we request Pakistan to look into their demands for the better of the region and Pakistan.”
There have been numerous failed attempts to reach peace agreements between the Islamabad government and TTP in the past.
The Pakistani government said in November it had agreed to a one-month cease-fire with the group, which could be extended if both sides agreed, opening the possibility for a fuller peace accord to help end years of bloodshed.
But TTP spokesperson Muhammad Khurasani on Thursday ruled out the possibility of extending the truce, saying the government had violated some parts of the deal and continued to raid their hideouts near the Afghan border in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
While Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi admitted last month the Afghan Taliban were mediating talks between the Pakistani government and the TTP, Mujahid said the TTP was Pakistan’s “internal matter.”
“The IEA stance is that we do not interfere in other countries’ affairs,” he said. “We do not interfere in Pakistan’s affairs.”
Pakistani authorities have not commented on the status of the TTP cease-fire.
Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf were unavailable for comment, despite repeated attempts on Friday to reach them.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government spokesman Muhammad Ali Saif told Arab News the matter was a federal government issue.
Best known in the West for attempting to kill Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl who went on to win the Nobel Prize for her work promoting girls’ education, the TTP has killed thousands of military personnel and civilians over the years in bombings and suicide attacks.
Among its attacks was a 2014 assault on a military-run school in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which killed 149 people, including 132 children.