ISLAMABAD: A joint statement issued after a meeting of government and Taliban negotiators for peace talks on Friday called upon the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan to end arbitrary activities and ensure the implementation of peace in the country, DawnNews reported.
The statement expressed concern over the recent spate of terror attacks in the country while strongly condemning them. The joint statement reiterated that violence would not only hamper the dialogue but halt it altogether.
The meeting between the two sides was held in the federal capital today.
“Both the committees expressed deep grief and regret over anti-peace activities and declared that such incidents would have a negative impact on the peace efforts,” said the joint statement.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed credit for a bomb blast that killed 13 policemen on a bus in the port city of Karachi on Thursday, the latest in a series of near-daily attacks since the government called for peace talks with militants to end their seven-year insurgency.
“Referring to the recent incident in Karachi, the government committee adopted the stance that it would become difficult to continue the peace talks when anti-peace activities continue,” it said.
“Therefore the Taliban must be asked to make an announcement that they are stopping all kinds of anti-peace activities and implementation of this announcement should be ensured,” the statement quoted the government side as saying.
It said that the Taliban committee “agreed” to the demand and asked the government to also make an announcement that it will not take any action which would create unrest.
“For lasting peace no side should use force,” the statement quoted the Taliban side as saying.
Irfan Siddiqui, convener of the four-member government committee, said the purpose of holding dialogue was to restore peace in the country and added that in absence of it, talks could not be held for long.
Maulana Samiul Haq and Maulana Yousuf were representing the Taliban committee whereas former chief cleric of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad, Maulana Abdul Aziz, was not present at the meeting.
Haq, also known as 'father of Taliban' in the West, called for a session of Ulema (Islamic clerics) on Saturday to “take them into confidence” regarding the peace negotiations.
End attacks, Sami appeals to TTP
Earlier today, the head of the TTP's three-man talks team appealed to the Taliban to end all kinds of attacks.
He moreover openly condemned the recent incidents of terrorism in the port city of Karachi.
Sami alleged that foreign forces and other anti-state elements wanted to foil peace negotiations.
He said the Taliban had clarified that the attacks staged by them had been carried out in defence, adding that the TTP had denied involvement in many of the attacks that had recently gripped the country.
Responding to a question, Samiul Haq said the TTP negotiators would meet with government representatives today and discuss the controversial contents of the government’s letter.
The letter had been written in light of conditions put forward by the Taliban and the point of view of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
An air force bombardment of TTP hideouts in North Waziristan led many to believe a major military offensive was imminent until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the peace talks.
Stability in nuclear-armed Pakistan is seen as important to neighbouring Afghanistan, where US-led Nato troops are pulling out after more than a decade of war.
Washington has said it is watching the talks with the Taliban closely. It has long been pushing Pakistan to take action against militants using Pakistan's tribal areas as a base to attack Nato forces across the border.