ISLAMABAD - The four-member government team was busy contacting religo-political leaders, having influence on various Taliban factions, to seek their guidance and help to make the upcoming dialogue initiative a success, while the Taliban Shoora was in session for second consecutive day and yet to come up with its basic demands and the team of negotiators.Sources in government informed The Nation that the government team comprising Irfan Siddiqui, Rahimullah Yousafzai, Maj (Retd) Amir and Rustam Shah Mohmand were contacting the people enjoying trust and credibility in the ranks of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan so that their influence could be used to allay the mistrust between the two sides.The government team could adopt more members having credibility and influence in various factions of TTP with an aim to make the negotiations successful.A source in Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (Sami Group) on condition of anonymity said that actually the team announced by the government has no direct contact with the TTP leadership and that is the reason they are looking for some interlocutors for facilitation of dialogue with Taliban. Sources further said that the government team would likely approach Maulana Samiul Haq, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and some other people enjoying good reputation among TTP factions to help facilitate these negotiations and there is strong likelihood that in coming days some more people would be included in the team to facilitate the negotiations. According to media reports the Taliban Shoora could also suggest some names most likely belonging to the mainstream political and religious parties in the country to be part of the negotiations between the government and TTP in the capacity of observers or guarantors to ensure the transparency in the dialogue process and to ensure the commitments made by either side be fully adhered to.Some media reports suggested that TTP spokesman had come up with the names of Prof Ibrahim, Imran Khan, Maulana Samiul Haq, Sirajul Haq and a few other people to be their likely team to hold talks with the government, but none of these persons has either confirmed or denied the reports being aired in some private television channel.The sources in government denied receiving any list of persons to be the negotiators on part of TTP.However, the sources did not rule out the demand coming from Taliban for inclusion of people like Prof Ibrahim of Jamaat-I-Islami, Maulana Samiul Haq, Imran Khan, Maulana Abdul Aziz, Mufti Kafayat Ullah, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and senior minister in KPK Government Sirajul Haq as an observers or guarantors of the peace parleys. Sources in the government further said that on the direction of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif the team members had contacted some of the political and religious parties leaders to facilitate the government process of brokering some peace deal with TTP to bring lasting peace in the troubled areas.A source in the PML-N further said that right now the ball was in the court of TTP and they were waiting for the response from them. Once the team of negotiators would be announced by the TTP and the set of demands for negotiations would come to fore only then the process would roll on.To a question about the demand of TTP to enforce Shariah in the country and the TTP defiance to hold talks within the ambit of constitution and law of the land, the sources in ruling alliance said that such demands would not hamper the talks process and once they would sit across the table with TTP leaders they would sort out these things.To another question these sources said that the venue of talks with TTP would be decided later and the first and foremost thing is the announcement of their team of negotiations and any pre-conditions, if any, for holding of these talks.To a question about floating of various names in the media which would likely represent the TTP in negotiations with government the sources in the government said that they had not received any formal list of negotiators from Taliban side and once they would get these names then they would also decide the venue of these negotiations.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 02-Feb-2014 here.