ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan Saturday briefed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif about the backdoor channel discussions and preliminary contact established with Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as well as some militant group’s illustrated willingness to sit with the government. The Interior minister also informed the PM about initial demands of this small group to start appropriate talks.
This transpired during an important meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had summoned to deliberate over preparations and agenda ahead of “anti-terrorism policy”. The meeting was attended by top security and intelligence officials of the country.
The PML-N government since assuming power after securing this May’s elections victory is bent upon initiating dialogue with Pakistani Taliban, and especially the TTP main factions headed by Hakeemullah Mehsud, the group that has led suicide attacks across Pakistan. The Pakistani government is these days keen on winning back some splinter groups of TTP such as Punjabi Taliban faction and others.
The prime minister was also briefed on dialogue with different Pakistani Taliban groups, government’s policy against drone attacks, law and order situation in Karachi, Balochistan and other areas along with the situation at the Line of Control (LoC).
The meeting also considered responses of the concerned leaders about the All Parties Conference on National Security that government is contemplating. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif directed interior minister to keep all the political parties in the loop regarding status of dialogue with Taliban, officials said.
Fresh from a high profile United States visit where PM is said to have faced no resistance from the American side about his Taliban peace talks plan, the PML-N government is all set to form some Jirga comprising tribal elders and officials to kick start this process.
The prime minister told the meeting that all the political parties had reposed confidence in the government to engage in talks with Taliban. “The representatives of different parliamentary parties should feel themselves as part and parcel of this process,” he said, emphasizing that without peace and security, economic prosperity of the country was not possible.
The government would make the national policy to maintain peace in consensus with all the stakeholders and political parties. The plan is to have all ‘stakeholders’ - security institutions, media, civil society and political parties. The PM said that wars were not the solution to any issue and pledged for maintaining durable peace in the country.
Expressing dissatisfaction on progress reported on operational and strategic approaches employed to curb extortion, kidnapping, terrorism and target killing in the country, the PM directed authorities concerned to finalise strategy in consultation with operators to block unregistered and illegal mobile phone SIMs, reliable sources in Interior Ministry confirmed The Nation.
“Extraordinary circumstances require a sustained response of law enforcement machinery for bringing back peace in the country as policies do not change on a daily basis,” the prime minister was quoted as telling. He also reiterated his government’s principled commitment to provide all possible assistance to the provincial government to restore confidence of the citizens of Sindh, Balochistan and KPK provinces in the ability of law enforcement agencies.
KABUL TO ASK ISLAMABAD ABOUT BARADAR’S WHEREABOUTS
Reuters adds: Afghanistan will demand an explanation from Pakistan on the whereabouts of a former Taliban second-in-command when the leaders of both countries meet next week to discuss how to end years of insurgency, an Afghan official said in Kabul on Saturday.
The whereabouts of Mullah Baradar has been the source of intense speculation since Pakistan announced his release on September 20. Pakistani sources say he is still kept in a safe house and is closely watched by his Pakistani handlers.
Afghanistan believes Baradar, who was once a close friend of the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, has enough clout to persuade the Taliban to make peace, but his prolonged stay in Pakistan may have marred his reputation among fighters.
“Mullah Baradar is still under strict supervision,” said Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“We will be seeking an explanation from Pakistan on the whereabouts of Mullah Baradar and how Pakistan can facilitate direct talks between him and the High Peace Council.” Karzai formed the High Peace Council in 2010 to seek a negotiated end to the insurgency the Taliban have waged since being forced from power in 2001 by a US-led invasion.
Faizi said Karzai would raise the issue when he meets Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in London next week for a summit hosted by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron. “The High Peace Council is in touch with Mullah Baradar’s family, not himself, unfortunately,” Faizi said. “This is what we are seeking. All we know is that his family members were able to contact him, but the High Peace Council itself hasn’t yet reached Mullah Baradar.”
Afghanistan is trying to inject life into attempts to negotiate peace as most US-led Nato combat troops prepare to pull out by the end of 2014. Baradar, who was captured in Karachi in 2010, is seen as a pragmatic negotiator who reached out to Kabul with a peace initiative before his detention. The Afghan Taliban say Baradar effectively remains under arrest and that his health has deteriorated. Some analysts say that Pakistan sees Baradar as a tool who could help it have a say in any future peace deal and limit rival India’s influence over Afghanistan after 2014.