ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has convened a meeting of the committees representing the government and Taliban on Saturday (today).
The meeting, according to official sources, is expected to finalise the date and venue for the next phase of peace talks.
Prior to this development, the minister told a press conference at the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) headquarters on Friday that direct talks between the government committee and Taliban Shura would begin in a few days.
A sensitive phase of the peace process was about to start and it would bring to an end all misgivings and misconceptions, he said.
He indicated that a month-long ceasefire announced by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) would continue beyond the March 31 deadline but did not elaborate.
The minister warned of action against elements conspiring to sabotage the peace process.
He said he was hopeful about a positive development in the peace process but said it was better for the government to move quietly and avoid media glare.
Chaudhry Nisar said the National Crisis Management Cell of the interior ministry was being abolished and alleged that secret funds of the cell had been misused by the previous government. The minister said he had held an informal meeting with the Nadra management board and took a number of decisions, including a ban on recruitment in the authority for one year. Action will be taken against those who made recruitment in Nadra in the past despite a ban.
He said 8,000 people had been given jobs in Nadra by the previous government and hundreds of ghost employees were among those recruited. Efforts were being made to locate 361 such employees. Biometric verification of all employees is underway and over 16,500 of the 17,000 employees have been verified so far.
Those working in Nadra on deputation have been sent back to their parent departments and 22 of the 52 Nadra employees working in other departments have rejoined the organisation. Final notices have been issued to others.
The interior minister said at least 12 employees had fake academic degrees and a same number had been sacked for illegal processing of computerised national identity cards.
Nadra earned a profit of Rs424 million in January and Rs475m last month while it suffered a Rs78m deficit in June. He said a number of wasteful expenses in Nadra had been done away with and the number of directors general in the authority had been reduced to 24 from 36.
The affairs of the organisation were being made transparent through audit, Chaudhry Nisar said, adding that he had also ordered audit in its regional offices.
The organisation has signed a Rs46.2m agreement for preparing cards of the Punjab Bar Council. Negotiations on an extension of the arms licence project worth Rs300m are being held with the Sindh home department and talks with the Punjab government on a similar project are in the final stage.
A new project for proof of residence cards of Afghan refugees has been launched in collaboration with the UNHCR.
In reply to a question, the minister said the most senior officer of the Federal Investigation Agency had been given temporary charge of the office of its director general and a BPS-22 officer would be appointed to the post soon.
Similarly, he said, a new chairman of Nadra would be appointed on the basis of merit for the first time in the history of the organisation.