ISLAMABAD - Amid serious reservations and concerns coming from both sides, which have virtually pushed the peace process in a dead alley, Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan has called the meeting of both the government- and Taliban-nominated peace committees on Wednesday (today).
In the light of the chat with some members of peace panels and the information given by the sources, it appears that the trust deficit between the two sides has deepened, while hard talk would be exchanged and tough questions would be raised in today’s meeting.
Ch Nisar had already said that in the absence of ceasefire, which was withdrawn by Tehreek-i-Taliban a couple of weeks back, meaningful talks between the two sides was not possible.
That was the reason the meeting of the two peace panels, scheduled for last Saturday, was put off without listing any pertinent reason. The head of Taliban-nominated panel, Maulana Samiul Haq simply said that the meeting would not be held due to some personal engagement of Ch Nisar.
Sources in the TTP-nominated panel said that Maulana Samiul Haq was quite disturbed over the situation and was planning to put the whole matter before the media before formally quitting the peace initiative. But in the meantime, the federal interior minister has called the meeting of the peace panels to review the developments on this front and probably he had allayed the concerns of Maulana Samiul Haq.
TTP peace panel member Prof Ibrahim had also shown concern over the situation and said that the deadlock in the talks was all due to the government which was neither calling the meeting of both the panels nor fulfilling the commitments made with them including the release of 13 more non-combatant prisoners as pledged by Ch Nisar when they last met him in the federal capital. Though in their public statements the members of Taliban-nominated peace panel sound optimistic about the fate of talks, in their off the record interaction they seemed a bit pessimistic about the negotiated settlement of the peace parleys, putting the blame on the government side for its non-seriousness.
On the other hand, the government side was also showing serious concerns over the hostile and provocative statements of TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid who besides ending the ceasefire had also announced attacks on security personnel and sensitive government installations.
A source in PML-N govt said that although nobody has claimed responsibility for the recent attacks on police personnel in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa so far, ostensibly the two attacks seemed to be the handiwork of militants.
Sources further said that Maulana Samiul Haq was very much disappointed with the recent developments and was about to place the whole matter before the media, but the plan was deferred after the call from the federal interior minister who requested him for a meeting in Islamabad with the aim to put the peace process back on track.
Sources in the ruling PML-N informed The Nation that Ch Nisar Ali Khan would ask Taliban-nominated peace panel to have the ceasefire restored for making the peace process meaningful.
On the other hand, the Taliban-nominated peace panel would ask for keeping the promises made with them during the previous meeting and put some strong conditions for continuing with the peace process, which would mainly include the release of their non-combatant prisoners.
When asked, sources in Taliban-nominated panel said that the next direct meeting of the government with the Taliban Shura would only be possible when the government would take some tangible steps by accepting some of the demands.
Sources termed today’s meeting between the two sides crucial, with both the sides determined to get their demands accepted by the other side for keeping the peace process afloat.
The Taliban peace panel comprises Maulana Samiul Haq, Prof Ibrahim and Coordinator of the Committee Maulana Yousaf Shah while the government team comprises Habibullah Khattak, Arbab Arif, Fawad Hassan Fawad and Rustam Shah Mohmand.