ISLAMABAD: Committees representing the government and Taliban met here on Saturday for a two-hour long session to finalise the date and venue for the next phase of peace talks.
Member of the Taliban committee Maulana Samiul Haq said that key decisions were made during today's meeting.
He said that the two sides have agreed upon a venue for the next phase of negotiations with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and that the government committee would very soon enter into direct talks with the militant group.
“The process of talking directly to the Taliban will start in two to three days, both sides have agreed on the venue”, he told reporters following the meeting also attended by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
Sami further said that reports that the Taliban had rejected the notion of holding talks outside Waziristan were mere speculation.
The TTP had proposed its stronghold of North Waziristan as the venue, while the government wanted to hold talks in Bannu.
Maulana Samiul Haq, however, stopped short of specifying if the negotiations would be taking place in Bannu.
“Both sides are showing flexibility and a willingness for success of the talks,” Haq added, saying the chosen place would be declared a “peace zone” but without specifying its location.
Another member of the committee, Maulana Yousuf Shah, said that Saturday’s meeting between the two committees were an important breakthrough. “The nation would soon hear good news,” he said.
Sources had told DawnNews earlier that the meeting also deliberated on the list of ‘prisoners’ under government detention shared by the Taliban. The two sides also discussed the release of persons kidnapped and held hostage by the militants, the sources said.
Saturday’s meeting between the two committees was convened by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
The interior minister told a press conference 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 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.