Taliban cancel ceasefire and call off talks with Pakistan

Saleh Shah, spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan group, said only direct talks would resume

The Pakistani Taliban have announced the end of their ceasefire and declared no negotiations with the Pakistani government, a spokesman said on Monday.

Speaking in a video posted on YouTube, Saleh Shah condemned the US for accusing the Taliban of avoiding direct talks with Pakistan, even though he said Pakistan had “respectably” backed the ceasefire until now.

Washington is pressing Islamabad to do more to counter extremists who use its territory to launch attacks across the border in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders want peace talks, but many Pakistanis resent the billions of dollars in US aid that they believe goes to the Pakistani military, which fights the militants. Many also think the focus on Afghanistan has distracted Pakistan from its own problems.

US pressure on Pakistan to counter extremists hinders efforts to resolve Afghanistan Read more

In January, the Afghan Taliban, with support from the Pakistani Taliban, stopped attacks against Pakistani troops and civilians in South Waziristan in a bid to start talks with the government in Islamabad.

Shah said the Taliban would fight as usual and added: “We will not accept any approach or any pressure from any quarter.”

In February, talks between the Taliban and US officials in Qatar broke down, and in July the Taliban began attacking large parts of south-west Pakistan again, claiming suicide bombings that killed dozens of civilians.

Catherine Ashton, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said in Brussels on Monday that “both the Taliban and the government have a responsibility to safeguard and promote the ceasefire and the constructive work they have undertaken during this time is critically important”.

“I am encouraged by their commitment to holding direct negotiations. I urge them to use this opportunity to progress positively and with more sustained engagement towards a negotiated settlement.”

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