A 17-member delegation of tribal council leaders from Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province have reached Afghanistan to hold second round of talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to find an end to the nearly two decades of militancy in the border region.
The delegation, which is led by Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif, special assistant to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister, reached Kabul on Saturday, sources said. The visit comes on the heels of a team of Pakistani religious scholars that returned home a day earlier from Afghanistan after meetings with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership.
The second round of talks comes as the Pakistan government and the TTP last month agreed to extend a ceasefire indefinitely while continuing negotiations to find an end to the nearly two decades of militancy.
Though the outlawed militant outfit agreed for a ceasefire, it had said that it would not back down from its demand for the reversal of the merger of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The TTP, also known as the Pakistan Taliban, was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan.
The group, which is believed to be close to Al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
“The KPK Jirga will hold talks with TTP leaders in continuation of their first round of negotiations held in June 2022,” a member of the jirga said.
The KPK jirga expressed satisfaction over the outcome of talks held between TTP leaders and Pakistani Ulema delegation led by Maulana Taqi Usmani.
“We do expect breakthroughs in the new round of talks with TTP leaders in Kabul,” the member said.
(With PTI inputs)