The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has rejected claims by Pakistan’s prime minister that the government is holding talks with the militant group to reach a cease-fire.
Prime Minister Imran Khan told Turkish television channel TRT World in an interview on October 1 that “we are in talks with some Taliban groups. It is a reconciliation process.”
However, the TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, quickly issued a statement saying that the group is united and there are no divisions in its ranks. The TTP’s spokesperson also called on the group’s fighters to continue attacks.
Meanwhile, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban on October 1 ordered its fighters to observe a cease-fire until October 20.
The Hafiz Gul Bahadar group directed its fighters to observe a cease-fire for 20 days and halt all their operations against the Pakistani government and security forces.
Local sources told Radio Mashaal that the leader of the Haqqani terrorist network and the new interior minister in the Taliban’s self-proclaimed government in Afghanistan, Siraj Haqqani, negotiated the cease-fire deal between the Pakistani government and the Gul Bahadar faction of the Pakistani Taliban.
The same sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a senior commander of the Gul Bahadar group visited Peshawar and Islamabad in August to meet senior Pakistani security officials. They said several of the group’s members were released by the government following the talks.
A Pakistani security official told Radio Mashaal that talks were launched in March 2021.
Hafiz Gul Bahadar, who is in his late 50s, fought alongside Afghan resistance forces against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. He emerged as a local Taliban commander in Pakistan’s Waziristan region after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
In 2006, he reached a peace deal with the Pakistani government that included promises not to allow foreign militants to operate in Waziristan. In 2007, Gul Bahadar joined the TTP when the group was formed by its then-chief Baitullah Mehsud.
However, Gul Bahadar did not originally support the TTP’s violent campaign against the Pakistani government. That stance changed following a Pakistani military operation in 2014 in the North Waziristan tribal district.
Gul Bahadar was reported to have died along with several of his key commanders in an air strike in the Dattakhel area of North Waziriatan in December 2014. However, reports about his death later proved to be false.
Gul Bahadar is believed to have close relations with the Haqqani Network, a close ally of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Local sources told Radio Mashaal that he is hiding across the border in Haqqani Network strongholds in Afghanistan’s Khost province and surrounding areas.