Govt-Taliban direct talks likely in two days

  • Samiul Haq says Taliban Shura to consider request for extending ceasefire period
  • Says bombings in Quetta and Peshawar aimed at derailing peace process

Taliban negotiators on Friday said the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership was ready to hold direct talks with the government and condemned Friday’s terrorist incidents in Quetta and Peshawar calling them a conspiracy being hatched to derail the peace process.

At least 20 people were killed and more than 80 others injured in two separate incidents of terrorism in the capitals of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces on Friday.

Following a meeting of two members of the Taliban’s negotiating committee with Taliban Shura, Maulana Samiul Haq, head of the committee nominated by the TTP, expressed hope for full restoration of peace in the country.

The meeting took place in Miramshah, the main town of troubled North Waziristan tribal agency bordering Afghanistan. It was attended by Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, Qari Shakeel, Azam Tariq, Shahidullah Shahid, Sajid Mohmand and Ahsanullah Ahsan. Maulana Yousuf Shah and Professor Ibrahim represented Taliban committee.

It was decided to hold the direct talks in Azad Mandi area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bannu district. However, the Taliban leadership apprised their nominated negotiators of their reservations.

Responding to Samiul Haq’s request of further extending the month-long ceasefire, Taliban leaders told the negotiators that a final decision in this regard would be made after a formal meeting of the Shura in coming days.

Speaking to media representatives in Akora Khattak, Haq said both members of the Taliban talks committee came back satisfied after the meeting.

“The meeting (direct talks) is expected in a couple of days with the newly formed government committee,” he said.

“We will facilitate the direct talks…… and results will be presented before the Parliament also.”

The chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-S), who is also known as “Father of Taliban” in the West, said their first priority will be to get freed imprisoned children and women as demanded by the Taliban leadership.

He showed optimism regarding positive outcome of the direct talks saying members of the new government committee are experienced with regards to the tribal areas.

“Friday’s incidents in Quetta and Peshawar are part of a conspiracy being hatched to derail the peace process,” said the JUI-S chief.

He said surgical operations conducted by the country’s armed forces had failed to obtain desired results in the past and only ended up in spreading havoc in the tribal areas.

The TTP’s position has spurred speculation that the central command is not fully in control of the many splinter groups operating under it, and reaching a peace deal with one of them would not stop the violence.

Speaking on the occasion, Professor Ibrahim of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) vowed to take the peace process to its logical conclusion. He said the Taliban had nothing to do with Friday’s terrorist incidents.