World Bulletin / News Desk
Pakistan has witnessed an apparent decrease in insurgent activities in March following a recent Taliban “goodwill gesture” ceasefire linked to ongoing peace talks with the government.
A report released by the Conflict Monitoring Center, an Islamabad-based think tank which monitors anti-state terrorism, claims that the month-long ceasefire announced on March 1 by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – an umbrella group of different insurgents – has brought a “remarkable reduction” in number of terrorist activities across the country with no suicide attacks recorded in last three weeks of March.
There was a 41 percent decline from March 1 to March 31 in the number of terrorist incidents nationwide, especially in the lawless northern tribal belt and the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, two areas worst-affected since 2002 when the United States began its ‘war on terror’.
Figures show that there were only two suicide attacks in March compared to six each in January and February 2014. The two incidents occurred in the first week of March; the Taliban denying involvement.
The number of militants killed in clashes with the security forces dropped to 15 in March compared to 150 in February, whereas there was a sharp increase in the number of arrests of suspected militants – 1,078 in March compared to only 143 in February.
The ceasefire expired on April 1 and although there has been an official extension, both the security forces and the Taliban are maintaining the truce despite accusations from the TTP that the authorities are “violating” the agreement.
Professor Ibrahim Khan, one of the members of the Taliban negotiating committee, told reporters on Wednesday that the TTP had not taken a decision to extend the ceasefire. However, the organization will announce their decision after the government’s response to TTP demands, which include the release of non-combatant prisoners and the establishment of a ‘safe zone’ in which to hold peace talks.
“They [the Taliban] are waiting for government’s response. Till then, they will keep their decision secret”, Khan said.Last Mod: 02 Nisan 2014, 13:59