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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing the National Assembly session in Islamabad on Wednesday. – APP Photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing the National Assembly session in Islamabad on Wednesday. – APP Photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. — File photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. — File photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shaking hand with PTI chief Imran Khan at National Assembly in Islamabad on Wednesday. – APP Photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shaking hand with PTI chief Imran Khan at National Assembly in Islamabad on Wednesday. – APP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced Wednesday that his government would pursue peace talks with Taliban militants despite a recent spate of attacks, naming a four-member committee to facilitate the talks.

Addressing a session of the National Assembly after a span of six months, Sharif said the government wanted to give peace another chance.

The premier announced the constitution of a four-member team – comprising his Advisor on National Affairs Irfan Siddique, veteran journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, former ambassador and expert on Afghanistan affairs Rustam Shah Mohmand and former ISI official Major (Retd) Amir Shah – to holds talks with the militants.

He said that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan would assist the committee.

Sharif also called on the militants to observe a ceasefire in the televised speech. He said that he would personally supervise the performance of the committee, adding that he was sincerely trying to restore peace in the country and expressed his hope that the other side would reciprocate in a similar manner.

The announcement came the same day Taliban militants targeted paramilitary soldiers, killing at least three Rangers personnel in separate bomb attacks in Karachi.

Speaking to from an undisclosed location via telephone, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Shahid said the Taliban have convened a meeting of the Shura (council) to “assess the committee formed by the federal government for peace talks.”

“Taliban are united under Fazlullah and rumours about rifts are baseless,” he said.

Sharif long has supported talks as the best way to end the years of fighting with the Pakistani Taliban. But after a spate of attacks in January, he has been under pressure to take steps to bring the country’s violence under control.

His speech came amid speculation that the government would soon authorise a large-scale military operation against militants.

Speaking to parliamentarians on Wednesday, Sharif said the entire nation – including all state institutions – stand united if the government decides to react to terrorism with full force.

“Since the other side has shown intent to negotiate, we also wish to give peace yet another chance,” he said, adding that bitter experiences of the past propelled the government to hold peace talks to bear fruit.

“The acts of terror must stop. Terrorism and talks cannot continue simultaneously,” he told parliamentarians.

He said peace was not a choice but the ultimate destination at which the government wanted to arrive and it would achieve it at all costs.

The prime minster said that all state agencies were also united on the stance that the war against terrorism must end.

In an apparent allusion to former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Sharif alleged that a dictator and his unconstitutional government had put the country in a despicable state.

The premier said his government was doing all it could to stop US drone strikes on its soil. However, he said that at the same time there was no justification for continuing the acts of terror in reaction to the drone strikes.

“Are the innocent children who fall prey to acts of terrorism, or the innocent civilians who die in such attacks, responsible for conducting the drone strikes?” he remarked. “Murder of innocent people cannot be tolerated anymore.”

Dialogue to be ‘open, transparent’

Sharif further said that he agreed with the proposals of opposition leaders to set a time-frame for dialogue and make it open and transparent.

“I desire that dialogue should be open and transparent. I appreciate the proposals of opposition leaders,” he said in response to points raised by leaders of two major opposition parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI).

He said that to ensure transparency and take along all stakeholders, the federal government had included a nominee of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in the four-member committee. “I hope Rustam Shah Mohmand will continuously be briefing Imran Khan and KP government on the progress of dialogue.”

“Moreover, I also invite the opposition leaders to sit with me and give their proposals. I am also ready to sit with you. Invite me to your residence and I shall come to listen to you. Your proposals will be supportive,” said the prime minister.

He, however, said he did not deem it suitable to give a time-frame to the dialogue process at this moment. “If the process proceeds, a time frame can also be set,” he said.

Rahimullah Yusufzai told news agency AFP: “Our role will be of facilitators and we will pave the way for negotiations between the government and the Taliban.” But he cautioned: “I am not attaching any expectations with the process right now because we are not aware of our mandate and other details, including the timeframe that will be given to the committee.”

Another member of the committee, Rustam Shah, said: “It is difficult to have an optimistic view about any success because of deep mistrust on both sides.”

”The success of the negotiations will depend on how much support the government gives to the committee and how wide its mandate is.”

—Zahir Shah Sherazi contributed to reporting from Peshawar

Comments (43) Closed

Mohammad iqbal Jan 29, 2014 02:59pm

Even Karzai advised Obama to hold talks with taliban or to get out of his country. He knew the ground realities. Nawaz finally decided to talk and asked Raheel shareef to sleep for a while

Sangeen Khan Jan 29, 2014 03:19pm

"Waley pey daa salor ghay?" The sentence in Pashto means (not literally though) that these four nominated are not going to find it easy to negotiate with the ones with whom they are tasked to negotiate. Why? Because they are going to cut their heads off that's why? Have we not seen and experienced what the Taliban are doing? They are criminals. They are not freedom fighters who have some demands or whatever. They are doing crimes and you don't negotiate with criminals. Simples ain't?

Ghalib Jan 29, 2014 03:20pm

fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, fool me again and again and again and again I am a ..........................................................

Rashid Jan 29, 2014 03:25pm

Big mistake, does the government not care about the soldier lives that were taken by the Taliban. Do you really think the Taliban will lay down there arms and stop killing innocent civilians. I smell corruption corruption corruption !

FAM Jan 29, 2014 03:34pm

Here we go again. Exactly what are they going to talk about, the TTP has already declared that they do not recognize the Pakistani constituition ? Unbelievable! God help us.

canuck Jan 29, 2014 03:40pm

Nothing has changed since last election. In fact violence has increased.

So much for new Government.

Syeda Jafri Jan 29, 2014 03:59pm

Roxana R Jan 29, 2014 04:18pm

Time for an ultimatum with a time limit. Cease all attacks and come to the table within two weeks, or face the consequences.

Danish Ahmed Jan 29, 2014 04:32pm

I was expecting Nawaz to show some leadership. But I guess I was naive. They will talk to the Taliban's to achieve what? Take Waziristan/swat & Karachi, whilst sparing Lahore, Islamabad and may be Raiwand?

Masoud Jan 29, 2014 04:42pm

Dialog & suicide attack should not be allowed go together

Adl Jan 29, 2014 04:48pm

There should be a time frame for any talk. During the peace talks if there is any suicide attack by the Taliban then the talks should be terminated immediately.

SMQ Zaman Jan 29, 2014 05:55pm

This is a very positive development and announcement by the PM for the constitution of a four-member 'peace-dialogue committee' under his direct supervision (but, I only wish, he had taken this decision and announcement earlier last year, than now, but it is still not late for start of dialogue) provided that no violent incidents - three Rangers were killed today and as many injured by the TTP in Karachi - take place after this clear dialogue-policy announcement has been made in the Parliament.

Omar Jan 29, 2014 06:06pm

Nawaz Sharif is a huge disappointment!

Nasir Hussain Jan 29, 2014 06:06pm

May wisdom dawn upon ignorant taliban so that they stop blood shed

ak18 Jan 29, 2014 06:24pm

no point in taking part in any dialogue with anyone when their masters will eliminate them via drones if they stop planning and executing terrorism across Pakistan.... look at what happened to hakimullah???? you cannot demand a ceasefire when you cannot offer the same in return... stop drones and force the ttp to come to the table...some of the ttp may be spreading terrorism because they are violent animals... some are doing it quite simply to save their own lives... separate the two... and deal with them both accordingly...

Amjad Wyne Jan 29, 2014 06:59pm

Mr. Sharif, put a timeline on whatever you intend to do - do not be a yo-yo. Just yesterday, the news in this paper was that you intend to take the war to TTP... today, your words are opposite of just what you said yesterday. Make up your mind because the enemy has made up his.

Akram Jan 29, 2014 07:15pm

if the previous history of these terrorists is anything to go by, they are only talking because the local North Waziristanis are fearful of an army onslaught, and have probably pressured TTP into talking.

Given that TTP is inimically opposed to the concept of rule of the people, they believe in forced religion as dictated by themselves, which is absurd to anyone with common sense. I cannot see where this will end except in the eventual invasion of North Waziristan by the army. It is inevitable, and its probably better we did this sooner rather than later.

Agha Ata Jan 29, 2014 07:17pm

Back to square one.

sohi Jan 29, 2014 08:18pm

Well done Nawaz. Government this time be loyal and don't deceive them. This is the only way to bring peace in the country. Fighting is not the solution both sides we lose are pakistanis. So please sit and negotiate and work together to bring a peaceful Pakistan.

Mughees Ur Rehman Jan 29, 2014 09:03pm

Wise decision, military can only win war, but not peace

Ahmer Jan 29, 2014 10:02pm

It is a mistake. Peace talks will not bear any fruits. Only adequate force will. Even that window will close the moment foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

Osman Khan Jan 29, 2014 10:10pm

Things are not so straightforward as they seem, Pakistan is in a big moment right now. The military option is all too easy, I have a feeling that the government fears that if it takes the military option Pakistan could become another Syria, where the west has continuously backed the trouble makers therefore the affair has dragged on for more than two years. America is perfectly positioned in Afghanistan to play the same game with us, we must be very careful.

Jalaluddin S. Hussain Jan 29, 2014 10:12pm

As a overseas diaspora Pakistani I wish the "Peace Committee" a grand success!

Abdul Manan Jan 29, 2014 10:19pm

this is good decision by government

Seedoo Jan 29, 2014 10:24pm

NASAH (USA) Jan 29, 2014 10:33pm

The Taliban have been hurt by army attacking their hideouts -- their proposal for talks is just a ruse for time to regroup..

M. Siddique Jan 29, 2014 10:36pm

One cannot trust TTP as they do not accept the constitution of Pakistan. Nevertheless, let negotiations start. But Army must ordered to keep their guns aimed at the targets. One killing during the negotiation process, all fire power should be unleashed before negoriators come home. TTP should be told this is the last chance to talk and come under the Constitutional set up or else.

Corleone Jan 29, 2014 10:41pm

two minutes of silence for PM

Irfan Jan 29, 2014 11:03pm

Could you also add a link to a recording of the full televised address of mr Sharif, either on YouTube or on the official government portal (if any). Thanks is advance.

Mekal Faruki Jan 30, 2014 12:28am

Nawaz Sharif wants to "hold talks" with people who violated a ceasefire? Sharif obviously cannot comprehend that the way to stop a snake is to cut off the head of the snake. Talks? If he likes talking so much he can talk to himself.

Adnan Jan 30, 2014 02:09am

Why is PM sharif is seeking peace from a group that does not want peace. Why is it so difficult to understand.

S Chaudhury Jan 30, 2014 04:01am

He is stupid to think he can negotiate with the terrorists. This futile exercise bound to fail. You cannot negotiate with murderers

numbersnumbers Jan 30, 2014 07:19am

NOTE, this four member team will then report their efforts to another six member team (three of whom must believe that polio vaccinations are a western plot) that will then consult with a team selected by ballot from the 2014 July All party Conference (on pretending to care about terrorism in Pakistan), which will then translate their recommendations from English to Urdu to Sanscrit and back thru English 9 times to result in NOTHING (as planned)!

Asyousowsoshallyoureap!! Jan 30, 2014 08:27am

Amjad Wyne Jan 30, 2014 08:37am

@Ghalib: You are right - I wished you had completed the sentence

hamid Jan 30, 2014 05:53pm

Seems no one cares about Pakistan. All PPP and PML-N knows is to pass time, make money, make fool of Pakistanis, buy palaces world around and live lavishly. It seems we have become a banana republic.

Karamat K Jan 30, 2014 06:20pm


Rashid Ahmad Jan 31, 2014 12:37pm

PM is on the right track to follow the path of negotiation. There is no other viable susitute for it. He should be supported by all in this endevour..

Last Word Jan 31, 2014 06:18pm

The Federal govt has no policy to deal with terrorism in Pakistan and opposition parties especially PTI are making things difficult for the former. A firm policy needs to be made by the govt keeping in view of the past track record of the militant organization and not changed on issue of statements by it.

gangadin Jan 31, 2014 08:52pm

Hold talks but tell them to keep Sharia in their own homes.

Mullah man Feb 01, 2014 03:46am

Why to we spend billions on our military if we want to negotiate with terrorists instead of defeating them? - is it so we can buy them villas in Abbotabad or is is because we are dumb?

syed Feb 01, 2014 03:27pm

they don't want peace talk, but they want a piece of you !!! Dear Govt., they want sharia law in Pakistan, they don't want nothing to do with peace talks, they are shouting that in your face and yet you can't translate the words!!!

khanm Feb 01, 2014 07:00pm

indecisiveness will lead you know where dear.When you need advice- do you seek someone who has proven success or do you get advice from people who have never achieved what you desire?...folks..Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. we have neither hope nor confidance