PESHAWAR - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday named its lawmaker in the National Assembly from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Gulzar Khan as its representative in the federal government committee for talks with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The PTI, which is running the affairs of militancy-plagued Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province in the aftermath of May 11, 2013 general elections, after thorough deliberations on the issue nominated MNA Gulzar Khan, who is a former senior bureaucrat, as representative of KP government in the second phase of talks with Taliban which is expected to be direct and decisive.
The federal government desired to accommodate KP Chief Minister Pervez Khan Khattak in the government committee of negotiators but after discussions within the party, the PTI recommended the name of Gulzar. In the first phase of talks, PTI was represented by Rustam Shah Mohmand, also a retired bureaucrat.
Meanwhile, a report said that Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan has announced that new dialogue committee would be announced within days (2 to 3 days) and that there would be no representation of the Army. A media report quoted him as saying that instead there would be bureaucrats joining the new committee.
Sources in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) said that in the light of input coming from various political leaders, it was finally decided not to involve Army in direct talks.
However, the army would be playing a key role in the parleys from behind the curtain and even could have couple of members of their choice from the civilian cadre in the committee to be finalised in a next few days to engage in direct talks with militants, sources in the know of the situation said.
Ch Nisar Ali Khan on Monday rang up TTP nominated committee chief Maulana Samiul Haq and discussed various issues with him pertaining to the second phase of negotiations with militants and its modus operandi.
Confirming the contact between the two leaders Maulana Yousuf Shah, the coordinator of the TTP nominated negotiation team, insisted that unlike the government committee their committee was intact and would continue to play its role till the time TTP Shoora so desires.
Sources in the government said that the idea of Army’s inclusion in the peace committee mainly came from Maulana Samiul Haq, while a couple of members of the four-member government committee had also approved the idea keeping in mind the level of involvement of army in the whole affairs.
But later when the idea was made public political parties across the national spectrum came up with strong opposition to it and even the coalition partners of the government opposed it, fearing its disastrous fallout.
Samiul Haq during telephonic conversation with the interior minister stressed the need of pacing up the negotiation process and also warned of the elements which were attempting to sabotage the whole efforts, sources informed and added that Ch Nisar Ali Khan assured Sami that the new committee would be in place in a next few days to kick start the peace parleys with TTP.
Sources close to Maulana Samiul Haq said that TTP Shoora was considering availing the offer of Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa to open their offices in settled areas of the province. But such a set-up would be established after couple of interaction with the new government committee, the sources added.
Prior to this development, PTI chief Imran Khan agreed and formally announced to cooperate with the PML-N led central government in talks with Taliban. A day earlier, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had made a telephonic contact with Imran and asked him to name their representative for the new government peace committee.
PTI has been a staunch supporter of dialogue and opposing military operation against Taliban, which according to it is not a solution to the problem. After the formal approval, the PTI has sent name of Gulzar Khan to the federal government to include him in the committee. PTI KP chapter President Azam Swati confirmed his nomination.
Hailing from Mashogagar village of Peshawar’s Badabher area, Gulzar Khan made his way to National Assembly after winning NA-4 (Peshawar) seat on PTI ticket. Prior to joining politics, Gulzar held various government key posts – including KP home secretary, Board of Revenue Senior Member, Commissioner Afghan Refugees – and retired as a KP Public Service Commission chairman.
The Taliban and government had announced ceasefire earlier this month in a bid to continue negotiation process. On March 6, the government had virtually dissolved its earlier formed peace talks committee, after its members recommended the formation of a fully empowered expanded committee comprising the interior minister, officials of the army, ISI and KP CM for direct talks with the Taliban.