After succumbing to an intense amount of pressure from military forces, the Taliban have called for a ceasefire. According to Talat Masood, the Pakistani military showed “its resolve,” against the militants, surgically striking Taliban hideouts through an intense air offensive. A retired general and political analyst, Mr. Masood also claimed that a growing internal dissent amongst the global network of jihadists helped bring about the ceasefire, with the infamous Haqqani network and Hafiz Gul Bahadur putting pressure on the Taliban.
Strategically speaking, the Haqqani network, which has enjoyed a primarily peaceful truce with the Pakistani military since 2009, does not want to see an intensified military operation in the region. According to reports, the Haqqani network’s fighters have not attacked any security forces.
There is strong support in Pakistan for the military operation from political parties who are fed up with ongoing militant attacks and threats.
In January, President Sharif announced that he would look to jump-start a dialogue with the Taliban, hoping to put an end to the sporadic violence. Only two weeks into the talks and the two sides seemed to be getting nowhere. Matters only worsened after the Taliban announced on February 17 that they had executed 23 captured paramilitary soldiers.
Following the executions, the Pakistani military went into overdrive, striking and blowing out Taliban hideouts in North Waziristan. North Waziristan, known as one of the most lawless regions of Pakistan, is a hotbed for terrorist activities and was amongst the first choices for the targeted strikes. The airstrikes carried out by the Pakistani government seemed to have put a sizable dent into the Taliban’s forces, with multiple hideouts had been destroyed in the campaign, as well as dozens of militants killed.
Two weeks into the campaign, the Taliban has felt the pressure and has called for a ceasefire. Analysts like Masood say that while the Taliban has been weakened significantly, the government should not misinterpret this critical moment to let their guard down. Masood said this is the moment where the Taliban could be “gathering their strength” and that Pakistan should be weary of such tactics.
The Taliban has used this tactic against military forces in Afghanistan, calling for ceasefires only to gain much-needed time to resupply and organize. U.S. officials have made no comment on the continuing action in Pakistan.
The Taliban claims that its choice to initiate a ceasefire was due to a “positive response” from the Pakistani government in meeting Taliban demands, such as an end to U.S. drone strikes and the implementation of Sharia law. The government has made no comment on whether such demands can even be met, but have said that they welcome the ceasefire. Pakistani officials continued by saying it is a “positive development.”
Recent months have shown a spike in Taliban attacks in the region. The large reduction in U.S. troops in late 2014 is said to have spurred the spring in attacks. The Pakistani Taliban is only an offshoot of the larger network of Taliban affiliated organizations.
While the prospect for talks looms on the horizon, analysts say it is naive to believe that violence from militant organizations in Pakistan will stop anytime soon. Simply put, there are just too many of them which work under their own leadership, that a unified peace deal between jihadists and the Pakistani government is highly unlikely.
It seems that for now, the pressure applied on the Taliban may produce a much-needed ceasefire.
By John Amaruso