A Pakistani official has confirmed a deal with the Pakistani Taliban under which an indefinite cease-fire with Islamabad was declared following a round of peace talks brokered by Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders in Kabul.
Muhammad Ali Saif, a spokesman for Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, said in an audio message to RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that both sides had agreed to extend the cease-fire “until further notice,” and to “continue peace talks.”
It was the first time a Pakistani government official has publicly confirmed peace negotiations in Kabul.
On June 2, Muhammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the hard-line Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said the decision on the cease-fire was made after “substantial progress” in talks held in Kabul with a delegation of 50 Pakistani tribal elders.
The Pakistani government has been in talks with the militants as part of Islamabad’s ongoing efforts to stem attacks carried out by the outlawed TTP that have killed dozens of Pakistani soldiers this year.
A new delegation of elders arrived in Kabul from Pakistan on May 31 for a fresh round of negotiations.
As a result of progress in the talks “the leadership of the TTP has extended the cease-fire until further notice,” Khurasani said in a statement issued in Kabul. Further meetings will be held in few days, he said.
There was no statement from the Afghan Taliban, which seized power in their country in August as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of a withdrawal.
A truce previously agreed until May 30 for the Islamic festival of Eid had held until now.
The TTP has been fighting for the stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in Pakistan, the release of their members from government custody, and a reduction in the Pakistani military presence in the country’s former tribal regions.