ISLAMABAD: The four-member committee constituted by the prime minister to hold talks with the Taliban will hold its first meeting on Friday.

Irfan Siddiqui, Special Assistant to the prime minister on national affairs and member of the committee, told Dawn that Nawaz Sharif would preside over the meeting.

Other members of the committee are Rustam Shah Mohmand, a former Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan; Rahimullah Yousufzai, a Peshawar-based journalist, and retired Major Amir Khan.

Mr Mohmand is currently on the advisory board for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and has a soft corner for the Tehreek-i-Insaf.

Mr Siddiqui said the committee’s ‘real task’ would begin once the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) named its representatives and set demands for peace talks. “The prime minister has taken the initiative with an open mind, without underlining any condition,” he said, adding that the government was determined to kick-start the process on a positive note.

Asked about a set of conditions put forward by PTI chief Imran Khan, he said that so far the government had not set any precondition for talks, except one which the prime minister had explained in the National Assembly on Wednesday that there should be no terrorist attacks during talks.

The PTI chairman was of the opinion the constitution should govern the negotiations and there should be an immediate ceasefire soon after the talks commenced.

Rahimullah Yousufzai told Dawn it was understood that the government would not talk on anything that went against the constitution. But, he added, the Taliban had in the past raised demands which were contrary to the constitution and they might do so again. The government was ready for such an eventuality, he said. “The TTP has yet to come up with its terms and conditions.”

About the PTI’s demands, Mr Yusufzai said the party had been calling for negotiations with the Taliban and as a political party, it had a right to adopt whatever stance it deemed fit. A PTI office-bearer told Dawn that Rustam Shah Mohmand was a representative of the KP government on the committee, and not the PTI’s.

“Mr Shah’s name was recommended by the provincial government and Imran Khan has nothing to do with it.” Asked if by disowning Mr Mohmand, the PTI wanted to disengage itself from the peace process, the office-bearer said it was purely a government initiative. However, the party was in favour of it, he clarified.

Opinion

Editorial

Police excesses
Updated 13 Aug, 2022

Police excesses

Crass thuggery and victimisation of ordinary citizens are unlikely to earn govt plaudits from any quarter.
Afghan cleric’s killing
13 Aug, 2022

Afghan cleric’s killing

THAT a suicide bomber belonging to the self-styled Islamic State group managed to target a senior Taliban cleric in...
No room for hockey
13 Aug, 2022

No room for hockey

THERE have been accusations and clarifications as the blame game rumbles on. Yet despite workers of the PTI ...
Militancy redux
Updated 12 Aug, 2022

Militancy redux

There is fear and confusion all around, and it is for the state to bring clarity to the situation.
Distorting history
12 Aug, 2022

Distorting history

WHEN history is co-opted by ideologically overzealous elements, expect the facts to die a quick death, and...
Dengue danger
12 Aug, 2022

Dengue danger

WITH rains continuing across most of the country, a dengue outbreak can quickly become a major headache for health...