Maulana Asmatullah Muavia, the leader of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan Punjab faction, today announced he is renouncing terrorism and armed struggle, and will urge the implementation of Shariah law through purely peaceful means.
Muavia said his group had decided to end all fighting with the Pakistani government after consultations with religious scholars, and is urging other factions to join a peace process with the Sharif government.
The move is dramatic, but not wholly out of character. Muavia has been the most outspoken advocate of peace among TTP faction leaders for years now, and in 2013 was “expelled” by the TTP central council for pushing the talks. He remained the leader of the TTP-Punjab, however, noting the group was independent from the TTP central council and didn’t answer to them.
The group, based in southern Punjab, was responsible for several major attacks in years past, but has in recent years been comparatively quiet, while Muavia publicly endorsing peace talks ever change he has gotten. It is unclear, then, how big the group remains.