PESHWAR: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, a banned militant group, has rejected Islamabad’s amnesty offer unless the government agrees to impose Shariah or Islamic law in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation.
The group is an umbrella organization of various militant groups fighting to overthrow the Pakistan government and is responsible for attacking military and civilian targets, especially along the country’s border with Afghanistan.
Islamabad has been particularly worried about the group’s fighters crossing over from Afghanistan and launching lethal attacks on its territory ever since the Afghan Taliban swept across Afghanistan in a lightning offensive and captured power last month.
Last week, Pakistani President Dr. Arif Alvi and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the government could pardon the group’s members if they laid down arms, abandoned the group’s ideology and adhered to the country’s constitution.
However, in a statement on Friday, the TTP said: “Pardon is usually offered to those who commit crimes, but we are quite proud of our struggle.”
“We can offer conditional amnesty to our enemy if they promise to implement Shariah in the country,” it added.
Adnan Bhittani, a senior security analyst based in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told Arab News that the recent release of the group’s fighters from Afghan prisons after the Taliban’s capture of Kabul had emboldened the armed faction to increase its attacks in Pakistan.
“TTP has up to 6,000 fighters who can create mayhem in different parts of Pakistan,” he said.
So far, there has been no response from the Pakistan government to the group’s statement.
However, senior opposition leader, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, criticized the government’s “policy of appeasement” in a Twitter post, saying it would come to haunt the country in the future.
Since returning to power, the Afghan Taliban has repeatedly assured Pakistan it will not allow its territory to be used by militants to attack any nation.
Thousands of Pakistanis have been killed in violence launched by the militant group in the past two decades.
The group has accepted responsibility for several high-profile attacks in Pakistan, including an attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in which 134 children were killed in 2014 and an assassination attempt on activist and Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai when she was a schoolgirl.