Senators reject Taliban conditions for talks | Pakistan Today

Senators reject Taliban conditions for talks

Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Haji Mohammad Adeel on Tuesday said the preconditions set by the Taliban for dialogue process did not carry logic and carrying on attacks on senior officers of the armed forces reflected that the Taliban were not serious in the proposed peace process.

In an exclusive talk with Pakistan Today following the meeting of the committee, the Awami National Party’s senior leader asked the government to take into account the fast changing scenario and brief the committee and other political stakeholders on how it would go further in talks and what messages had been exchanged with the militants.

“Is it a rational approach to ask Pakistani forces to withdraw from borders of the country which is volatile while despite peace efforts targeted attacks are being made on our troops? Setting preconditions itself reflects their mindset,” he argued. He said that during the meeting, the members of the committee expressed their views on the attacks on the forces and sympathised with the bereaved families.

Adeel said Maulvi Fazlullah group was involved in the attack on slain Major General Sanaullah Khan Niazi and the Taliban had again become active in Swat.

He said the ANP government had signed the APC resolution for talks with the Taliban with a “heavy heart”. He said his party believed that talks could be held with only those Taliban who respected the courts and constitution of Pakistan.

He said the three conditions set by the Taliban were unacceptable.

Earlier, during the meeting of the committee, some members termed the Taliban pre-conditions “unworkable”.

The meeting was chaired by Haji Adeel and was attended by Senators Jehangir Badr, Farhatullah Babar, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Syeda Sughra Imam and Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. Senator Afrasiab Khattak attended as a special invitee.

The members expressed grave concern over the rise of militant attacks in Malakand Agency, especially in Swat and urged the government to take measures to counter such incidents in the future.

The members emphasised the need for coordination between the law enforcing agencies of Pakistan and Afghanistan at the border and increase in exchange of parliamentary delegations across the border that would bring the two countries closer.

The committee asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to keep a close watch on the developments in Afghanistan. The members also called for a briefing by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and explanation for rationale of presence of around 20,000 American troops in Afghanistan after US withdrawal by the end of year 2014.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that a new cold war had begun in the region and after Egypt and Syria, Saudi Arabia was also distancing itself from Washington. He added that the US policy regarding Syria had totally failed and Russia had an important role in the Syrian conflict, forcing America to follow a defensive line. He further observed that the recent parliamentary delegation’s visit dispelled the impression that India was prevailing in Afghanistan.

Senator Mushahid said the Afghan president told the delegation that Pakistan freed around 27 Taliban prisoners but those freed people had gone back to resume fight on different war fronts. He said that both Taliban and the US were waiting for elections in Afghanistan.

Senator Jehangir Badr said it was important to strengthen Afghanistan and Pakistan ties. Briefing the committee members on the recent visit of a parliamentary delegation to Kabul, Badr said the delegation also met with Afghan leader Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul and emphasised that all political groups, including the Taliban, should take part in elections in Afghanistan.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said the US had its specific interests in Afghanistan and that was the reason it was keeping 20,000 troops in the country for its security.

Senator Afrasiab Khattak said the delegation had very cordial and meaningful talks in Kabul and there was no blame game.

He said that Afghans had a lot of expectations from Nawaz Sharifs’ government regarding peace efforts for Afghanistan.

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