ISLAMABAD - Rejecting the proposal of militants to declare some tract of land in North Waziristan as ‘demilitarised zone’ the government on Wednesday narrowed down its talks venue option to Frontier Region Bannu and this decision would be conveyed to the head of TTP panel Samiul Haq.
The newly formed government committee held meeting with Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, focal person dealing with the matter, and discussed venue and other related issues concerning direct talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP).
Interior ministry’s media director confirmed the meeting of four-member committee with the minister but could not give any further details because it was a closed doors interaction. Committee head Habibullah Khattak and members Arbab Arif, Rustam Shah Mohmand and Fawad Hassan Fawad all were in attendance.
Sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting informed that the idea of troops withdrawal from some area to provide a demilitarised zone in the North Waziristan was ruled out as workable option while the option of holding talks in the vicinity of Wana in South had already been rejected by the TTP Shura.
After detailed discussion the meeting agreed that TTP Shura should be asked to select some venue in FR Bannu for the direct interaction and the same would be conveyed to TTP nominated panel head Samiul Haq by Ch Nisar.
The Frontier Region Bannu, commonly known as FR Bannu, is spread over 877 square kilometres borders District Karak and FR Lakki Marwat in the North, North Waziristan Agency in the West, South Waziristan Agency in the South and with District Bannu in the East.
When contacted, Fawad Hassan Fawad declined to share the contents of committee’s deliberations saying that only interior minister is authorised to talk on the subject. Sources in the know of these developments said that government decision on the talks’ venue had been conveyed to Samiul Haq by interior minister and hopefully the reply would likely come in a day or so.
TTP nominated panel coordinator Yusuf Shah admitted the deadlock on the rendezvous with the Taliban but sounded optimistic about the positive outcome by Thursday or Friday, as they have passed on the information about the government proposed venues to the Shura. He said once they get reply from TTP Shura, they would make formal announcement of the meeting between the two. However, the venue would be kept secret owing to security reasons, he added.
NO DEADLOCK IN TALKS: SAMI
INP adds: The head of the negotiating committee formed by the Taliban, Maulana Samiul Haq has said that there is no deadlock in the dialogue process.
Talking to reporters in Lahore, Maulana Sami said discussions were underway to finalise the location of the meeting between the Taliban and the government committee.
According to the Maulana, the government committee did not want to visit Waziristan for talks, while the Taliban did not want to hold dialogue inside government buildings.
The Taliban committee head said that following the ceasefire, incidents of terrorism had decreased in the country.
Maulana Sami said the nation should not be disappointed over the dialogue process and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif remained hopeful of the process despite numerous problems.
Sami said success could only be achieved if dialogue with the outlawed group was seriously pursued.
Sami said talks were underway on a venue to continue the process, adding the Taliban were also experiencing some difficulties.