LAHORE - Serious differences between various factions of the Taliban over the utility and need of talks between them and the Pakistan government, and some powerful elements’ efforts to sabotage the initiative to restore peace to the Islamic republic are the major hurdles because of which negotiations between the militia and the government could not start so far.
This is the viewpoint of Mr Javed Ibrahim Paracha, a former MNA, who is trying to make the two parties sit across the table to bring the killings to an end.
Talking to The Nation on Saturday, he said while Mulla Muhammad Omar’s group is a strong supporter of talks and is opposed to Taliban’s attacks on military officials or the general public, there are many others who are resisting talks because they enjoy foreign backing and want to destroy this country at all costs.
Because of internal differences, he said, the Taliban Shoora has not been able to take any decision about talks.
According to Mr Paracha, who is also World Prisoners Relief Commission of Pakistan (WPRCP) chairman, some people also worsened the situation in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi. He did not elaborate on it, saying for security situation he will not like to say more on the subject.
Responding to a question, he said the situation about talks between the government and the Taliban was likely to get clear by Monday (tomorrow) or Tuesday.
The government had held an all-party conference on Sept 9, all participants of which had supported the idea of talks with the Taliban.
“The sincerity and swiftness required for the talks is lacking on both sides. Attitude on both sides (Taliban and the government) is very cold,” regretted Mr Paracha.
According to him, there are elements averse to the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and there are others who have no tolerance for the Sipah-e-Sahaba. These elements are trying to vitiate the atmosphere, Paracha alleged, renewing his resolve to continue his efforts to bring the Taliban and the Pakistan government across the table.
Asked how the Taliban had seen a recent statement made by Army Chief Gen Parvez Kayani that demands of the militants regarding withdrawal of troops from FATA and the release of Taliban prisoners will not be accepted, Mr Paracha said the other side was keeping silent.
However, he made it clear that talks with those who don’t recognise Pakistan’s constitution and don’t respect the country’s national flag will be mere waste of time.
In response to a question, he said talks would be held with all important factions as all of them had their own importance.
He said Qari Ziaur Rehman, Maulvi Fazlullah and Maulvi Faqir Muhammad are important in their respective areas, who have to be talked to.
When his attention was drawn to JUI-S leader Maulana Samiul Haq’s statement that the Taliban want Pakistan to quit the US-imposed war on terror and enforce Shariah in the country, Mr Paracha said such things were being stated since long. However, he said, the real demands of the Taliban would be known only when they sit across the table.
Asked to comment on the TTP spokesman’s statement that attacks on military officials would continue, Mr Paracha said unless talks were started, such a stance was quite understandable. In his opinion, the army would also be justified in continuing its operation against the Taliban till the talks are started.
Before the talks start, he said, the Taliban and the government would have to agree to a ceasefire.
Meanwhile, some constitutional experts are of the view that accepting the Taliban’s demand about the withdrawal of troops from FATA or release of the Taliban prisoners would amount to surrendering Pakistan’s sovereignty.
A prominent lawyer who did not like to be named said that surrendering Pakistan’s sovereignty would violate the prime minister’s oath of office, in which he was committed to defending it.
“Country’s sovereignty is not negotiable”.