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Govt team briefs PM on TTP talks

By Our Staff Reporter 2014-02-11
ISLAMABAD: Government negotiators briefed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday on their meeting with the Taliban committee held last Thursday and about their upcoming interaction between the two committees any time soon.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Affairs Irfan Siddqui, who is coordinator of the government committee, said: `An audience was due with the prime minister after our first meeting with the Taliban team of peace negotiators last Thursday.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Siddiqui said that although the prime minister, through the media, was already aware of the conditions put forward by the Taliban side, these were conveyed to the prime minister in Monday`s meeting.

The main demand of the Taliban committee was meetings with the prime minister, the army chief and the director general of ISL It also sought clarification over the jurisdiction of the four-member government committee comprising non-political personalities.

When asked if the prime minister had agreed to meet the three-member Taliban committee, Mr Siddiqui said that `a lot depends on the response of the TTP leadership to our two primary conditions that talks will be held within parameters of the constitution and their scope will be restricted only to insurgency-hit areas within the tribal belt` The prime minister has repeatedly said that he has given the committee an open-ended mandate and his meeting or not meeting the Taliban side will be decided at alater stage.

`Since Maulana Mohammad Yousuf Shah, who is a representative of JUI-S chief Mualana Samiual Haq, who heads the Taliban committee, and Prof Mohammad Ibrahim of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) have come back after meeting the TTP Shura over the weekend, `we are anxiously waiting to meet them to get their input`, said Mr Siddiqui.

Mr Siddiqui added: `I had a telephonic conversation with Mr Shah today and decided to hold a meeting of the two committees at the earliest to move the dialogue. Maulana Shah sounded positive, let`s see what message he has brought from the TTP leadership for us.

Mr Siddiqui reiterated that the government was fully committed to restoring peace in the country and would leave no stone unturned to achieve this objective.

However, a senior official of the prime minister office, when contacted, said that `frankly speaking the top leadership of the government isn`t that hopeful. But one can expect that the TTP leadership positively responds to the government`s offer for talks`