'Deadlock' in government, Taliban talks

Published February 17, 2014
Professor Ibrahim Khan,(l) and Maulana Yousuf Shah (c) —  File Photo
Professor Ibrahim Khan,(l) and Maulana Yousuf Shah (c) — File Photo
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui addressing a press conference at PID. — Photo by APP
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui addressing a press conference at PID. — Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: Professor Ibrahim, while addressing a press conference with Maulana Yousuf Shah in Akhora Khattak, on Monday said that a deadlock had been reached between the Taliban and government negotiators.

He said that Maulana Samiul Haq had called Irfan Siddiquie, coordinator of the government committee to hold peace talks with negotiators representing the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who had informed him that the scheduled meeting between the two sides would not take place.

Professor Khan appealed both parties to abstain from violent activities.

He further said that the mediators wanted to maintain their positions and clarified that they were just mediators and not party in the issue.

He also said that both the committees should sit together and not meeting was a worry-some development. Moreover, he said that details and developments of the talks could not be fully shared with the media.

Meanwhile, Maulana Yousuf Shah, who acts as contact person for the TTP, said that a meeting of the Taliban negotiating team headed by Maulana Samiul Haq was held today.

He further said that it was regrettable that the government’s committee, branding the mediators as the Taliban, had refused to meet them.

Yousuf Shah deplored the Mohmand incident but said that [the mediators] still believed in maintaining contacts.

He added that the talks were nearing a ceasefire and had a mutual meeting taken place all issues would have been discussed.

The prime minister should lend an ear to both sides, Shah further said adding that, thousands of people would be forced to migrate in case a military operation was conducted.

News of the attack on FC personnel had given Maulana Samiul Haq, chief of the Taliban negotiating team, a 'sleepless night', Maulana Yousuf Shah had said earlier today.

He said the sentiments of the TTP committee over the issue were no different from those of the government committee.

Shah further said that Haq would soon hold a meeting with the top leadership of the TTP and that the Taliban negotiating committee would soon issue a statement over the attack.

Nawaz condemns soldiers' killing

Prime Minister Sharif condemned the killing of FC soldiers, calling the incident a heinous, criminal act. In a statement issued from Prime Minister House, Sharif said such incidents were having a very negative impact on peace talks.

He commended the "sacrifices rendered by the martyrs", saying the country could not stand idly by when such acts of murder were being committed.

The premier, in his statement, added that the government had approached the idea of talks after a collective go-ahead from the political leadership at the All Parties Conference (APC).

The statement further said that every time the talks reached an encouraging stage, they were sabotaged.

Today’s meeting between government and Taliban negotiators was postponed as peace talks began to falter after a militant outfit identifying itself as Mohmand Agency Taliban claimed killing 23 FC soldiers kidnapped from Shongari checkpost in the tribal region in 2010.

Irfan Siddiqui said circumstances relating to negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban were not heading in the right direction.

He added that after the killing of 23 FC soldiers, holding talks with the committee representing the TTP was a futile enterprise.

Late on Sunday night, the Mohmand Agency Taliban, had claimed killing the soldiers.

A spokesman for the main Taliban group, Shahidullah Shahid, declined to confirm the killings but said “it might be a reaction to the killing of our 23 comrades in Karachi and Nowshera”.

A Pakistani security official, talking to AFP on condition of anonymity, denied that insurgents had been killed in custody as claimed by the Taliban in Mohmand.

“The killing of terrorists in the custody of security forces as alleged by the TTP is a baseless allegation and is a mere propaganda to justify their dastardly acts of terror,” the source said.

Siddiqui, on the government committee's behalf, condemned the incident in Mohmand, saying the nation was expecting immediate, positive results and the current scenario failed to depict those.

Moreover, sources in the Prime Minister House said that after yesterday's incident, the government committee had decided not to hold its scheduled meeting with TTP negotiators.

Also later, Siddiqui and another member of the government committee, Major Amir, met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

War drums?

Highly placed sources have said the military was prepared to launch a full scale operation against militant sanctuaries in North Waziristan.

Sources said the army was awaiting a green signal from the government, adding that a large number of troops were being dispatched to North Waziristan from various formations across the country.

Meanwhile, army formations were carrying out field firing and battle inoculation exercises which are being regarded as preparations of a possible operation.

The exercises were aimed as practice for troops in operating under real battlefield environment with live firing of various weapon systems, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.



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