- Meeting of govt, TTP negotiators postponed, govt committee seeks clarification from TTP
- Taliban committee lashes out at govt over its ‘non-seriousness’
The Taliban negotiators condemned the failure of government representatives to meet them, as preliminary peace efforts got off to a chaotic start on Tuesday.
The government side said before talks began they wanted clarification from the team named by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The two sides had been due to start charting a “roadmap” for talks.
Many observers were puzzled by the government side’s approach. The Taliban swiftly made clear there were to be no additions to their team, and urged the government side to begin talks and see for themselves whether the team had a mandate.
Earlier in the day, the coordinator for the government’s committee Irfan Siddiqui informed Maulana Samiul Haq about the decision.
Siddiqui said clarification over the status of the Taliban’s committee was needed after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Mufti Kifayatullah had excused themselves from the team nominated by the Taliban.
Earlier, the government’s dialogue committee comprising Irfan Siddiqui‚ Rahimullah Yusufzai‚ Rustam Shah Mehmand and Major (r) Amir held their separate meeting in the Prime Minister House.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Siddiqui apprised Samiul Haq of the decisions taken by the government committee. Both the teams have agreed to hold their meeting on a neutral venue, sources said.
Sources said the government team, in Tuesday’s meeting, discussed inclusion of Fazlur Rehman Khalil into the committee. He was a mediator of the dialogue between Lal Masjid administration and the government in 2007.
‘GOVERNMENT NOT SERIOUS’:
Responding to the government’s stance, the Taliban nominated committee accused it of non-seriousness on the crucial issue.
Talking to journalists, Samiul Haq said that the government’s attitude showed that it was in great pressure to abandon dialogue with Taliban, adding that the situation is leading towards military operation.
Sami said internal and external forces which do not want peace in the country were pressurising the government to withdraw the dialogue process.
The JUI-S chief said his team was waiting for the government committee but after two hours they were informed that the other side was not coming because they wanted some explanations from their side.
“They are powerless, unable to get access to Taliban,” he said.
The JUI-S chief said that it was the responsibility of the government to hold the peace talks and the government committee should have contacted them first, adding that the TTP committee waited for two hours for the government committee wondering whether it will show up or not.
“Us coming in the middle is a gift from God and the government should appreciate this,” Sami remarked.
He said that the Taliban have said they would go in dialogue process with three-member committee and no new names would be included. He said this kind of attitude could provoke the Taliban, adding that his team had requested the militants not to lose their patience. He said his team would try its best to play a role of a bridge between the government and Taliban.
When asked if Taliban should open their office in Islamabad, Sami said every mosque in the capital and across the country was their office.