Never asked Sami to broker Taliban talks: govt

23 Jan 2014

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Samiul Haq heads the Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary, which has awarded Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar an honorary doctorate.—File Photo
Samiul Haq heads the Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary, which has awarded Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar an honorary doctorate.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: A spokesman of the government said Thursday that Maulana Samiul Haq, the head of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, had not been given any “specific mission” regarding measures to address terrorism.

Instead, he was asked in general to use his good offices and cooperation in this regard, the spokesman said in a statement issued here.

Sami Ul Haq, who heads the Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary and is often referred to as the “Father of the Taliban” for his close ties, had announced Wednesday he was detaching himself from the peace process with Pakistani Taliban militants after airstrikes killed 40 people in North Waziristan.

Frustrated by what he claimed was lack of seriousness and response from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Maulana from Akora Khattak said in a statement that he had agreed to initiate the peace process following his meeting with the prime minister last month to prevent the loss of innocent lives.

“The government does not seem serious and concerned. I had requested them to avoid a military operation and use of force but yesterday it started bombing in North Waziristan and tribal areas,” said Haq in a statement.

The government spokesman, however, denied today that any specific task was given to the cleric during the meeting. He also denied the impression by the Maulana that the government did not pay heed to him.

“Even three weeks after the meeting, he did not inform (the government) about any progress,” the spokesman said.

Haq claims he sent a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and complains that multiple calls and efforts to reach the premier had gone unanswered.

Sharif's government announced its peace talks policy in September and began making preliminary contact with the Taliban's leadership, but the initiative ended after a US drone strike killed then-TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud in November.

The TTP have been waging a bloody campaign of gun and bomb attacks against the Pakistani state since 2007, often on military targets.

The two high-profile attacks on Sunday and Monday left at least 39 dead, marking a bloody return for the militants after a period of relative quiet following Mehsud's death and the installation of hardline militant commander Maulana Fazlullah as his replacement.