LAHORE - A new team with the strong likelihood of inclusion of a top security service member is most likely to engage the TTP leadership in a constructive and positive peace dialogue, The Nation has learnt.
Informed sources privy to the fresh developments concerning the peace dialogue with the Taliban told this correspondent on Sunday that the existing government peace team is either to be completely replaced with a new team or continue with some changes.
They informed that some think tanks of the government have advised for a direct contact with the Tehreek-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with a new team or at least include a particular top official from a premier state security service.
Senior government peace committee member, Rustam Shah Mohmand, when contacted said, “Military forces have strong contacts in the tribal region since long and if someone means by it military’s direct involvement in the dialogue process with the TTP then it will prove a helpful in securing durable peace.”
He added that TTP had demanded in the past for involving the military in the dialogue process because they feel that it will help ensure full implementation of the agreement they would reach with the government.
When asked for a direct reply regarding replacement of the existing team with new one, Mohmand said, “The situation has changed after the TTP unconditional ceasefire; the government could adopt a new track to engage the Taliban leadership in the renewed process. However, I and other members of the existing peace committee are ready to continue playing our role for peace.”
He observed: It is not important which individuals negotiate peace with the TTP; the important thing is that peace is achieved and its permanence is ensured through removing the causes which brought insurgency in the tribal region.
Mohmand proposed: TTP leadership should be brought to political mainstream after the success of dialogue, besides involving them in the policy-making issues of their areas.
When asked about attack on polio team in Khyber Agency the very day the TTP announced ceasefire, he said that it might be the action of Lashkar-e-Islam or Ansar-ul-Islam, which have no connection with the TTP.
Meanwhile, sources when asked regarding the formation or changes in the existing committee informed that it was expected in the next few days when the government would decide what mechanism it should adopt to engage the TTP leadership in a meaningful dialogue.
Replying to a query concerning the organisation of the security official likely to be included in the peace team, they informed that he could be a man in uniform or a spymaster.
When asked about the strategy to deal with anti-peace elements, they informed that the government has received no split signals from TTP umbrella after their ceasefire; however, the elements trying to sabotage the process would be neutralised.
About the possibilities of release of TTP prisoners, they maintained that the matter could be pondered upon on case to case basis as not all the prisoners could be freed. They added that it could not be possible for the government to free the prisoners who committed major acts of terror against the civilian and military targets, besides recruits of foreign secret services working under the cover of TTP umbrella. However, the cases of local facilitators who were not directly involved in high crimes could be released as a goodwill gesture, they added.
The TTP leadership had alleged the security services for detaining their family members including women and elders, while the security services had rejected the charge by terming it propaganda stunt of the TTP in a bid to provide a cover to their acts of terror.
Informing about the rehabilitation plan for the war-torn tribal region, sources maintained that government would pump in heavy funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in the tribal region once the peace talks succeed and political administration and elders system is fully restored.
Earlier, the stubborn TTP leadership was not ready to hold talks and continued attacks despite the government’s peace offer. However, intensive airstrikes followed by security services special units operations forced them to announce unconditional ceasefire in an effort to get the strikes halted and resumption of peace process.
While the talks were in their initial stages, the TTP, which is an amalgam of 43 militant organisations, did not stop from its terrorist activities and its minor groups – which are opposed to talks – have been reportedly defying the directions of the TTP central executive (shura).
However, the security services through their direct channels and TTP peace messengers conveyed the Taliban leadership a strong message that either they declare unconditional ceasefire for resuming the talks with the state or be ready to evaporate into the thin air.
Premier intelligence service of the state through its eavesdropping gathered enough evidence regarding hustle bustle among the TTP ranks after the aggressive surgical airstrikes and special operations against the militants who were unwilling to embrace peace.
The government peace committee received indirect messages from the TTP leadership to resume dialogue without imposing any condition in the last week of February and finally the TTP announced unconditional ceasefire on March 1.