PESHAWAR - Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) Chief Maulana Samiul Haq Wednesday announced to dissociate himself from the proposed peace talks between Taliban and the government, saying the Centre was not serious in holding dialogue.
JUI-S Chief Samiul Haq said the prime minister had assigned him the task of initiating talks with Taliban and the process of dialogue had begun on January 1 after which a positive response was received from the Taliban. “I briefed the PM on January 2 and asked for further strategy, but I did not get any response despite repeated contacts. I appealed to the government on January 20 to declare ceasefire and avoid a military operation as well as use of power, but an operation was launched in North Waziristan, Tirrah Valley and other tribal areas,” Samiul Haq said in a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The JUI-S chief said he was unable to play any role in this situation and was distancing himself from the process of talks. “Due to non-serious attitude of the government, I have distanced myself from the proposed peace process,” the JUI-S chief said.
The JUI-S chief said the prime minister had tasked him to hold negotiations with Taliban, and just within two days he got positive response from the Taliban. The prime minister was informed on January 2 regarding the development and waited for response from the government. He, however, lamented the government didn’t seem serious in holding talks with the Taliban. Samiul Haq said he had requested the government not to carry out military operation against the Taliban, but an operation was conducted in North Waziristan Agency and Khyber Agency on Tuesday.
Samilul Haq who is reported to have influence over the Taliban leadership had offered his services to initiate a dialogue process with the militants. But a series of attacks by the Taliban in the recent days prompted the armed forces to take retaliatory action in North Waziristan in which over 40 terrorists, including their key commanders, were killed.
Haq said he had decided to take back his offer in the wake of the action by the armed forces in the tribal areas. He reiterated he initiated background talks with the Taliban leaders on January 1 and also sent a message to the prime minister in this regard, but did not receive a go-ahead signal from the government. He added despite repeated contacts, the prime minister did not convey the future course of action.
AFP adds: A Pakistani cleric with close ties to the Taliban said Wednesday he would no longer act as a government-backed peace broker with the militants after airstrikes killed 40 people in a tribal district. Samiul Haq who heads the hardline Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary and is often referred to as the “Father of the Taliban” was given the task of initiating peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban in December by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Sharif's government announced its peace talks policy in September and began making preliminary contacts with the Taliban leadership, but the initiative ended after a US drone strike killed Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in November.
“The air strikes in the North Waziristan and Khyber tribal regions on Tuesday were retaliation for two major Taliban attacks on military targets in as many days. But Haq whose seminary has awarded Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar an honorary doctorate said more fighting was not the answer. “Both the sides (Taliban and the government) are in a state of war. Innocent citizens and soldiers are dying. A military operation is not the answer. In such a situation, I want to separate myself from this bloody tragedy,” he added.
Haq also sent AFP a copy of the letter he wrote to Sharif, complaining that multiple calls and efforts to reach the premier had gone unanswered. The TTP has been waging a bloody campaign of gun and bomb attacks against Pakistan since 2007, often on military targets.
The two high-profile attacks on Sunday and Monday left at least 40 dead, marking a bloody return after a period of relative quiet following Mehsud’s death and the installation of hardline cleric Maulana Fazlullah as his replacement.