ISLAMABAD - The ruling party PML-N is ostensibly keeping its options guardedly secret about how to engage Taliban in peace talks, sources told The Nation on Tuesday.
Most of the party’s central leaders remain cagey while commenting on TTP’s responsibility claim regarding killing of Pakistan Army’s senior officers in upper Dir on Sunday last. Many believe that the PML-N government has fallen in an embarrassing situation particularly after it secured mandate from all the political players and military leadership to offer unconditional talks to Taliban.
Despite that Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has been designated as focal person to talk about the government’s strategy, two key members of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet, Rana Tanveer and Ahsan Iqbal at least broke the calm on Tuesday that reflects gravity of the situation the PML-N government is passing through.
According to a private TV channel, Federal Minister for Defence Production Tana Tanveer Hussain rubbished the Taliban’s reported conditions for talks with the government saying no talks can be held with conditions. While Ahsan Iqbal said that the government is taking steps for peace and stability through dialogue process.
In a statement in Islamabad‚ he said that all the national institutions are on one page to protect the territorial integrity of the country. On the other hand, a senior official of the ministry of Interior hinted that inspite of the unfortunate incident in which senior level security officials were killed; government would initiate talks with Taliban.
“It was an unfortunate incident, but talks between Government Taliban will start”, Interior Ministry’s senior joint secretary and official spokesman Ummer Hameed Khan told The Nation. Other sources in the Interior Ministry say that the government has finalized the framework for talks with Taliban. Although they were reluctant to share details of the framework, other sources said the government’s peace offer would be made only to those Taliban who accept the constitution of Pakistan. “The government will never talk to those elements who do not accept constitution of Pakistan and they will have to face might of the State of Pakistan in one way or the other”, a source said, adding things would be crystal clear once the government unveils its strategy.
He noted that no talks ever bore fruits in vacuum and Taliban will have to announce ceasefire and do not impose any preconditions for talks with the government.
The Taliban on Sunday had announced preconditions for talks on ending the insurgency that has killed thousands of people, demanding that troops are withdraw from tribal areas and that their prisoners are set free before the talks.
However, the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in turn, insisted they would not let militants set conditions for peace talks.