Imran assures complete support for Sharif’s peace initiative

Published March 12, 2014
PTI chief Imran Khan has assured complete support to the govt in peace talks with Pakistani Taliban militants.—Photo by PPI
PTI chief Imran Khan has assured complete support to the govt in peace talks with Pakistani Taliban militants.—Photo by PPI
PTI chief Imran Khan has assured complete support to the govt in peace talks with Pakistani Taliban militants.—Photo by PPI
PTI chief Imran Khan has assured complete support to the govt in peace talks with Pakistani Taliban militants.—Photo by PPI
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif exchanges views with Imran Khan during a meeting at his residence in Islamabad on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. – PPI Photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif exchanges views with Imran Khan during a meeting at his residence in Islamabad on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. – PPI Photo

ISLAMABAD: After months of disagreement, the federal government has finally managed to get the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leadership on board with its strategy of tackling the bloody seven year-old Pakistani Taliban insurgency.

In a meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took the PTI chief Imran Khan into confidence on national security issues including peace talks with Pakistani Taliban militants.

According to sources, the formation of a new committee of government negotiators and a strategy in case of failure of peace talks was discussed at the key meeting which lasted almost two hours.

Speaking to media representatives after the meeting at his Islamabad residence, Khan said that the government was moving in the right direction with regards to negotiations with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has waged a bloody seven-year war against the Pakistani state.

“I understand that the government, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar have been working in the right direction under great pressure,” he told reporters.

Khan assured complete support from his party and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in the peace initiatives taken by the Sharif’s government.

“If peace talks fail, then we always have the option of a military operation,” said Khan.

The PTI chief commended the federal government and said that recent initiatives had successfully divided militants in favour of peace talks and those against it. He said it was for the first time that the federal government had made serious efforts for peace through dialogue and was achieving good results.

Khan said: “I congratulate the government on creating divisions among militants through dialogue process which is a major achievement. Now there are militants willing to talk and small groups opposed to the peace process.”

“We want to be on the same page to face future challenges,” he said, adding that a military option would be the last choice if all other options fail.

He said all major groups in North Waziristan had shown willingness for dialogue and peace, adding through isolation process it would be easy to eliminate small groups who still want to fight.

He said the army was capable to eliminate those militants who still wanted to fight and carrying out terrorist activities.

“Result-oriented phase”

Earlier during the meeting, PM Sharif stressed that the dialogue process was now entering “a more result-oriented phase.”

“Keeping aside all kinds of differences and divides, we will have to strive for achieving peace with full determination,” he said during the meeting. “Since we are now entering the more result-oriented phase of dialogue, we need more unity and harmony.”

The premier said he was striving to establish peace without shedding a drop of blood. “For this purpose, we are taking forward the process of dialogue with full resolve and sincerity in the light of decision taken by the all-parties conference.”

The committees of the government and Taliban, despite all odds and in a short period of one month, have achieved what could not be done during the last several years, he remarked.

The prime minister said all political parties from either inside the parliament or outside should support the serious efforts for peace.

The prime minister was flanked by Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, Special Assistant Irfan Siddiqi, and Political Secretary to the PM Dr Asif Kirmani, while Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Makhdoom Javed Hashmi accompanied the PTI chief during the meeting.

The interior minister apprised the PTI leadership of the details of dialogue in the second phase. He assured that the government would continue to take all the political parties, including PTI, into confidence in this phase as well.

Formation of new committee

According to sources, the leadership of the two parties agreed on members for a new committee to represent the government in the dialogue process with the TTP.

The committee will now be headed by Federal Secretary Habibullah Khattak, and will include Additional Secretary to the Prime Minister Fawad Hasan Fawad and Additional Secretary FATA Arbab Arif.

Former member of the peace talks committee Rustam Shah Mohmand will retain his place on the negotiating team, the sources added.

There was so far no formal announcement by either the federal government or the PTI leadership regarding the formation of the new committee.

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