ISLAMABAD - At a time when both government and Tehreek-i-Taliban committees are struggling to find a way forward for a negotiated settlement of the decade-old imbroglio, certain powerful elements in the ruling PML-N are out to dub the whole gambit of things as debilitated.
In the light of background interviews with some senior PML-N leaders and the information shared by the sources close to the development it could safely be said that a strong lobby within the PML-N was not comfortable with the four-member committee constituted by Prime Minister to hold talks with the TTP nominated committee.
The sources further informed that even some members of the government committee are not comfortable with the way Irfan Siddiqui is pretending himself as the team leader and that is the reason a couple of members of the committee who have some influence on certain militant groups within the conglomeration of TTP, on several occasions, have proposed to the PM that the government should engage TTP in direct talks instead of using the channel of the committee.
A senior PML-N leader close to Federal Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan, on condition of anonymity, confirmed to The Nation that Nisar was not comfortable with the composition of the government committee and he wanted some supervisory role in the whole exercise which he had initiated a few months back, but was suspended after the killing of former TTP Chief Baitullah Mahsud in a drone hit.
It was perhaps this uneasiness, which prompted Nisar to woo TTP nominated team head Moulana Samiul Haq when he got annoyed with Irfan Siddiqui on the deferment of maiden meeting between the two negotiating teams.
Since then Samiul Haq remained in constant touch with the Federal Interior Minister to discuss all the important issues obviously undermining the government committee for the purpose. Now having the role of a focal person in the negotiations with TTP, Nisar was totally against the way both the committees are meeting and then holding media talk after every sitting.
A source in Prime Minister House informed that in the Tuesday meeting of committee with Prime Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan objected to extensive media interaction of the committee members, which according to him was creating confusion and hampering the peace initiative.
It was decided in the meeting that in future the committee members would avoid media and only the coordinator of the committee Irfan Siddiqui would give brief comments of required.
Sources in the ruling PML-N confirmed that the four-member committee was having the backing of the group within the party not comfortable with Federal Interior Minister and that was the reason there is a tacit tension within the party putting the fate of the committee in doldrums.
Several attempts were made to contact government committee’s coordinator Irfan Siddiqui but he was not available for comments while the cell phones of Maj. (retd) Amir and Rustam Shah Mohmand were switched off, perhaps they were following the directives of Prime Minister to avoid media.