Pakistan's Taliban said on Monday (November 28) they have called off a shaky ceasefire agreed with the government in June and ordered fighters to stage attacks across the country.
Tehreek–e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been responsible for dozens of violent attacks and thousands of deaths across Pakistan since emerging in 2007.
"As military operations are ongoing against mujahideen in different areas ... so it is imperative for you to carry out attacks wherever you can in the entire country," it said in a statement.
The TTP held sway over vast tracts of Pakistan's rugged tribal belt for a time, imposing a radical version of Islamic law.
Its fighters were largely driven out of Pakistan into neighbouring Afghanistan from 2010 but have been emboldened by events in Afghanistan since August 2021.
The TTP reached a ceasefire with the Pakistani government in June, but both sides have repeatedly claimed the truce was ignored and there have been numerous clashes.
Earlier this month six police officers were killed by the TTP in a shootout while they patrolled the village of Shahab Khel, 100km from the Afghan border.
The TTP were at the height of their power in Pakistan between 2007 and 2009, when they held sway over the Swat Valley just 135km north of Islamabad.
They were pushed into Afghanistan by an army offensive after perpetrating the Army Public School (APS) massacre that killed more than 150 students and teachers in Peshawar in 2014.
Then-Prime Minister Imran Khan in October 2021 announced that the government was in talks with the group for the first time since 2014.
"Talking to TTP terrorists is tantamount to betraying the thousands of innocent people killed by terrorism," said Faisal Ali at the time. A 12-year-old relative of his was killed in the APS slaughter.
By offering the TTP a pardon, the government emboldened the militants, who never stopped carrying out terrorist acts, he said.
The TTP gained confidence over the past year, a counter-terrorism police official in Karachi told Pakistan Foward in May on the condition of anonymity.
Pakistan witnessed a 42% increase in terrorist attacks in 2021 from the previous year, according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based security think-tank.
The TTP alone in 2021 was responsible for 87 attacks (84% more than in 2020), killing 158 people, PIPS observed earlier in 2022.
"In such a situation, by offering the TTP clemency, the government has not only emboldened the terror group but also provided it recognition," the counter-terrorism official said in May.
Past peace agreements with the TTP failed to restore peace and instead emboldened and strengthened the militant group, civil society activists and families of terrorism victims said in October 2021 when Khan announced talks with the TTP.
TTP leaders violated deals they inked in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009.
Pakistan, the United States and the United Nations have designated the TTP a terrorist organisation.