ISLAMABAD: The government decided on Tuesday to resume peace dialogue with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan which was suspended last month after the TTP Mohmand claimed to have killed 23 detained Frontier Corps personnel.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the four-member government negotiating team, headed by Irfan Siddqui, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It was attended by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and committee members, retired Maj Mohammad Amir, Rustam Shah Mohmand and Rahimullah Yousufzai.
“We have decided to resume peace process and are meeting TTP negotiators on Wednesday,” Mr Siddiqui, who is prime minister’s adviser on national affairs, told Dawn.
The meeting held to discuss TTP’s ceasefire announcement expressed concern over Monday’s terrorist attacks on Islamabad district courts and in Khyber Agency and decided to raise the issue with the TTP committee at the Wednesday meeting.
According to an official handout, the government committee was of the view that such attacks taking place after Taliban’s ceasefire announcement could sabotage the peace process.
“The dialogue process cannot go ahead if such incidents take place in future,” Mr Siddiqui said. Although the TTP said it had nothing to do with the attack on the district courts in which an additional district and sessions judge and 10 other people were killed, opposition parties blamed the banned organisation for the dastardly act.
Lal Masjid Khateeb Maulana Abdul Aziz, who is a member of the TTP committee, also condemned the attack and termed it a “height of tyranny”. But he denied media reports that the incident was in any way linked to Lal Masjid.
The reports suggested that judge Rifaqat Ahmed Khan Awan, who was killed in Monday’s attack, had rejected a petition against former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf filed by a son of Ghazi Abdul Rashid who had been killed in the Lal Masjid military operation in 2007.
Irfan Siddiqui said the committee had presented some proposals to the prime minister for taking the dialogue process to logical conclusion. But he did not elaborate.
“After ceasefire from both sides we have entered the second phase of talks in which some necessary steps should be taken by them to make the dialogue process result-oriented,” he said.
In reply to a question about the prime minister’s meeting with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif on Monday and media reports that the government was taking decisions without consulting members of the committee, Mr Siddiqui said his team was mandated to ensure an environment conducive to talks with Taliban and nothing else. “Forming a committee for talks does not mean that the government cannot hold security meetings,” he added.
Professor Ibrahim, a member of the TTP committee, told Dawn that he had not been informed about the meeting the government wanted to hold with the Taliban negotiators on Wednesday.
Answering questions about the terrorist attacks in Islamabad and Khyber Agency, he said: “Not only the government but the TTP committee has also expressed concern over the attacks and it is the responsibility of both sides to foil any attempt which could sabotage the peace process.”
He said there were many groups which were creating unrest in the country. “Now it’s the responsibility of the government to lay hands on such groups.”
Professor Ibrahim said the Ahrarul Hind group, which claimed responsibility for the district courts attack, had no link with Taliban. “The government has to find out whether the new group has any link with the TTP.”
He expressed the hope that the peace dialogue would be “result-oriented and a successful endeavour”.