TTP, govt committee meeting concludes; agreement on terms

Published March 5, 2014
TTP committee members Maulana Samiul Haq (R) and Professor Ibrahim Khan (L) hold a press conference in the northwestern town of Akora Khattak on Feb 10, 2014. — Photo by AFP
TTP committee members Maulana Samiul Haq (R) and Professor Ibrahim Khan (L) hold a press conference in the northwestern town of Akora Khattak on Feb 10, 2014. — Photo by AFP

PESHAWAR: The meeting between negotiators from the government and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) concluded in Akora Khattak on Wednesday with both sides agreeing to certain terms and conditions, DawnNews reported.

The current government committee includes Irfan Siddiqui, retired Major Amir, Rustam Shah Mohmand and Rahimullah Yousufzai and the negotiators nominated by the TTP include Maulana Samiul Haq, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Professor Mohammad Ibrahim.

Haq, chief of the Taliban negotiating committee, told reporters after the meeting that the Taliban committee was seeking a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He praised the Taliban for announcing the ceasefire and said he had asked the militants to track down whoever was responsible for the recent violence.

Moreover, he also said that the announcement of a ceasefire from both sides was a major progress and that the Taliban had been asked to probe into those responsible for recent attacks.

The chief Taliban mediator added that Afghanistan, India and the United States wanted the dialogue process to fail.

He further said that the government and Taliban should jointly unveil the enemy.

Haq said that the Taliban had not put forward any demands to change the democratic system.

Talking about the Ahrarul Hind, the group that claimed responsibility of the recent attack in an Islamabad court, he said that he had never heard the organisation's name before and the Taliban were also unaware of the outfit.

The head of the committee representing the government, Irfan Siddiqui, said they had discussed various options for how the negotiating process could continue and the results of today's meeting were satisfactory.

Siddiqui said that the Taliban should openly condemn incidents of terrorism.

He also said that the dialogue process had entered its second phase now, which included decision-making steps.The first round of talks was meant only to increase and facilitate contacts between the two sides, he added.

Another government negotiator retired Major Amir told media representatives that the suggestions presented during the first round of the meeting had been agreed upon by both sides.

Rahimullah Yousufzai told The Associated Press that the negotiators had decided to push forward with the process because the Pakistani Taliban had said they were not responsible for the recent attacks.

''In this situation, we opted to continue the talks, and we hope the Taliban will condemn these attacks and trace those who are behind it,'' Yousafzai said.

During the meeting, held at Maulana Samiul Haq's Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary, the members consulted on the dissolution of existing committees and the formation of new committees to carry forward peace talks, DawnNews had quoted sources as saying.

Reports said the government had decided to dissolve the existing committee and form a new committee to represent it in the talks.

Sources told DawnNews that the new government committee would likely comprise of members from the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) led government at the centre as well as members from the armed forces.

Moreover, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak or his representative would be added to the committee.

The new committee was likely to also include a high-ranking official from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan would be its focal person.

The recommendation for the formation of a new committee was made by Major Amir during a meeting of the current negotiators with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

On Tuesday, the government decided to resume peace dialogue with the outlawed group which was suspended last month after the TTP Mohmand claimed to have killed 23 detained Frontier Corps personnel.

The two committees had met twice prior to the suspension of the dialogue process.

The process appeared to gain new life over the weekend when the Pakistani Taliban declared a one-month ceasefire and the government responded by saying it would halt airstrikes against militant hideouts in the tribal areas.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the four-member government negotiating team, headed by Irfan Siddqui, with Prime Minister Sharif. It was attended by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and Major (retired) Amir, Rustam Shah Mohmand and Rahimullah Yousufzai.

The killing of eight troops this week, including six just hours before the negotiators met Wednesday, have also strained the process.

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