ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee has authorised the military leadership to hold talks with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Saturday.
Speaking at a press conference, he said the military leadership would inform the committee about any progress in the talks and the matter would then be debated in parliament.
The minister said that talks would be held only under the Constitution of Pakistan, adding that neither anything over and above the Constitution would be negotiated nor would any such agreement be reached.
On June 22, the military had reassured the political leadership that no extra-constitutional concessions would be given to the banned TTP in the ongoing dialogue and any deal made with the terrorist group would be subject to parliamentary approval.
The assurance was given by the military leadership at a meeting held with the political leaders at the Prime Minister House.
This was the first meeting between the national political leadership and the military, which has been negotiating with the TTP in Afghanistan with the help of the Afghan Taliban. The meeting was arranged after Pakistan Peoples Party, a major partner in the ruling coalition, lodged a protest for not being taken on board about the talks.
In October last year, then-prime minister Imran Khan had revealed that talks were under way with the TTP.
He said the talks with the militants were taking place in Afghanistan and the new Taliban rulers were helping in the process.
Days after Imran Khan’s disclosure, his interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed surprised many by saying that he was unaware of any such dialogue.
Rana Sanaullah recalled how former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had invited the political leadership, including Imran Khan, to PM House for devising a consensus strategy to tackle the issue after the Army Public School Peshawar attack in 2014.
A senator from Jamaat-i-Islami, Mushtaq Ahmed had also recently raised the issue of keeping talks with TTP secret from the parliament. At the time, Senator Irfanul Haq Siddiqui had said these talks had not been initiated during the term of the present government.
“We were also unaware who is holding these talks and where they are taking place. Things became clear at a recent meeting at Prime Minister’s House,” he had said.
Earlier, speaking at a ceremony at Police Lines, the interior minister said that the loan agreement signed by the PTI government with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was ill-negotiated and not implemented in letter and spirit by the previous regime. He said the country had such an ailing economy that IMF has kept Pakistan on toes only to get $1 billion. “We tried our best and presented every argument that we should not increase prices of fuel but to no avail.”
He said the ruling party had thought about dissolving the assemblies to get fresh mandate but the country could have faced threat of default if it was handed over to caretaker set-up.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2022