But that hope proved to be in vain. The November ceasefire was not renewed and after it ended, the Pakistani Taliban intensified attacks on Pakistani soil in an effort to pressure the authorities to allow the militants to return to their hometowns.
Describing Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as TTP, Asfandyar Mir, a senior expert at the United States Institute of Peace, said, “Over the past several months, the TTP has inflicted heavy losses on Pakistani security forces.” The TTP is a growing threat and the Taliban are unwilling to rein in anti-Pakistan jihadist groups, despite the escalating violence.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in its statement that seven Pakistani Army personnel were martyred by terrorists operating from Afghanistan in North Waziristan in the country’s northwest region on Thursday.
The airstrikes on Saturday appear to have been carried out as retaliation for that attack. According to locals, most of those killed in the airstrike were displaced from North Waziristan.
On Saturday night and Sunday, hundreds of people took to the streets in rallies to protest the airstrike in Tank and Mirali districts in northwest Pakistan. They marched, raising slogans of “Stop killing innocent Waziristanis”, video of the protests.
Activists also called for the formation of an inquiry commission by both the Pakistani and Afghan governments to investigate the incident and to nab those responsible for the strike that killed civilians.
The airstrikes appeared to boost the Pakistani Taliban even more.
“We want to convey to the Pakistani military that every war has a principle and that Pakistan has violated every principle of war till date,” Muhammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said on Saturday. We challenge the Pakistan Army to fight on the battlefield instead of bombing the oppressed people and refugee camps.
Safiullah Padshah reported from Kabul, Christina Goldbaum from Dubai and Ehsanullah Tipu Mehsud from Islamabad, Pakistan.