Negotiation committee granted open mandate to conduct talks: Siddiqui


The newly assembled four-member committee appointed to conduct talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP) reserves the right to contact anyone it believes would be beneficial to the peace process, said committee member and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Irfan Siddiqui on Friday.

“If the Taliban want other individuals involved, then we as a committee will decide the involvement of others if we deem it necessary,” Siddiqui told a press conference here.

Earlier, the committee was given absolute power to seek assistance from any religious or political party, media person or army official in its attempt to make the dialogue process successful.

“The committee will be in touch with the media and the prime minister regarding any developments,” he added. However, Siddiqui also said that the committee reserves the right to conceal information if it finds that releasing it to the media might prove harmful.

Siddiqui emphasised that the committee has both the parliament and Sharif’s confidence, stating that the prime minister has made himself available to the committee on a daily basis, if required. After the formation of the committee, Siddiqui said that the ball is now in the Taliban’s court. “We have told the Taliban to tell us as soon as possible after their Shura who comprises their dialogue committee. We do not want to waste any time,” he said.

Siddiqui also expressed urgency. “These talks will not take place over months or years, but days and weeks.”

He urged the TTP to relay their decisions to government as soon as they possibly can. At the same time, he emphasised that the talks will take place on cordial terms.

“We’ll speak to the Taliban wherever they say they’re comfortable talking with us,” he said, adding that the committee’s actions would then “depend on what the Shura says and the Taliban decides.”

In the meantime, he said that the committee has requested the government and the Taliban both to refrain from statements or actions that may endanger the peace process.

Siddiqui said that he was “optimistic” and hopes that the talks will be “result-oriented, meaningful and purposeful.”