ISLAMABAD - The informal interaction between the government and Tekreek-e-Taliban Pakistan-backed committees ended with a positive note that the two sides would continue with the efforts to broker peace in the restive tribal areas through negotiations.
After an hour-long meeting at the residence of one of the government team members, both the sides, in a brief media interaction, appeared hopeful of the success of their initiative.
Sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting revealed the TTP-backed team briefed the government side on their two-day interaction with TTP Shura leaders and also sought some explanations from the government before sitting on the negotiating table, while the government side raised concern over the terrorist attacks occurring across the country with no letup, which they feared, could derail the peace process.
The formal meeting between the two sides is likely to take place on Wednesday (today) at some venue to be decided by the team members from the two sides just before the meeting, a source in the government side confirmed. The coordinator of the TTP team, Maulana Yousuf Shah, also confirmed that the meeting between the two sides would take place today (Wednesday) at some unknown place.
However, in their brief interaction with media people after the informal interaction held at the residence of one of the government team members, Maj (r) Amir, Irfan Siddiqui said the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and they were satisfied with the progress made so far.
The chief of the TTP-backed team, Maulana Samiul Haq, said they were holding talks with an open heart and mind, and expressed his optimism about the talks. He maintained, initially, they would try to enforce truce so that the peace initiative could progress at a fast pace. Without mentioning the grenade attacks in Peshawar, he warned there were certain elements that did not want the peace initiative to succeed and were out to sabotage it.
Later, the government team went to the Prime Minister’s House and briefed Premier Sharif on their informal interaction with the TTP-backed team. They also presented to him preconditions and a letter from the TTP Shura members monitoring the peace process. The set of explanations TTP had sought from the government for holding the talks also came under discussion at the meeting, sources in the government informed The Nation.
The coordinator of the government peace team, Irfan Siddiqui, informed PM Nawaz Sharif that a formal meeting with the TTP team would be held on Wednesday (today) at which the government would also come up with some prerequisites for holding talks which mainly include the cessation of terrorist attacks by the TTP splinter groups.
The sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting told The Nation that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had expressed serious concerns over the ongoing terrorist activities across the country despite initiation of peace dialogue with TTP and said such attacks could jeopardise the whole exercise.
Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan and Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik were also present at the meeting. Irfan Siddiqui presented details of their interaction with the TTP-backed team, comprising Maulana Samiul Haq, Prof Ibrahim and Maulana Yousuf Shah, who has been nominated by Maulana Samiul Haq as the coordinator of the committee.
Lal Masjid Khateeb Maulana Abdul Aziz, who is one of the nominees of TTP, did not turn up. Rahimullah Yousafzai, a member of the government team, was also absent.
It is interesting to note that Tuesday’s meeting at the residence of Maj (r) Amir was kept secret, but the media got air of it, and the members found reporters waiting outside.
In another development, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had a meeting with PM Nawaz and discussed the overall security situation. Sources said the Maulana mainly discussed the matters relating to his party’s role as a junior coalition partner.
Premier Sharif once again expressed his desire to see Maulana Fazl’s role in the talks, but he tactfully kept himself from it.