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Govt finalises plan for direct talks with TTP

By Our Staff Reporter 2014-03-20
ISLAMABAD: The government has finalised a plan for holding direct talks with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

The new committee formed by the government to hold talks with the TTP Shura called on Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday and gave final touches to the plan for taking the peace process forward.

Official sources told Dawn that the venue for talks would be decided in two days.

The TTP has proposed its stronghold of North Waziristan as the venue, while the government wants to hold talks at the Bannu airport.

The meeting was informed that the Taliban had promised to dissociate themselves from the groups which did not follow the ceasefire. It was told that the TTP was trying to identify such groups and committed to taking action against them.

A source said the government was committed to the peace process and wanted to start the second phase of talks as early as possible. The government wanted to remove all irritants and believed that any uncalled for delay would encourage enemies of peace, he added.

He was confident that the venue would be decided in 48 hours and the talks would start soon.

The head of Taliban negotiating team, Maulana Samiul Haq, also expressed optimism about early start of talks and said there was no deadlock. He told reporters that discussions were going on to finalise the venue of the meeting. He confirmed that the government committee did not agree to go to Waziristan and the Taliban did not want to hold talks in government buildings.

Maulana Sami said incidents of terrorism in the country had decreased after the announcement of ceasefire.

The nation should not be disappointed over the dialogue process, he said.

Meanwhile, Maulana Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, the Chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, offered to help the government in dealing with any religious seminary involved in terror activities or training of terrorists.During a meeting with the interior minister, Maulana Ashrafi said he was against the use of such institutions for political gains. `We are against using a seminary for political activity or making it a hub of anti-social, anti-state activity.

But he urged the government not to take action against seminaries under the pretext of law and order.

The minister said there was no plan to launch an operation against seminaries. `Madressahs are playing a positive role in promoting religious education in the country.

Chaudhry Nisar asked the ulema not to pay any heed to rumours. He said the government was planning to conduct a survey of madressahs.

The minister sought the ulema council`s help in developing a database about madressahs because some of them were being operated by dubious management.

Maulana Ashrafi assured the minister of support in matters relating to streamlining of seminaries. He called for an audit of local and international funding for seminaries` reforms.

`We have heard that a huge amount is being received, but the output is not visible.

Maulana Ashrafi urged the government to reveal details of the funds received for the purpose and tell the nation where the money had been spent.