ISLAMABAD - By engaging the tribal elders and chieftains from Waziristan Agency for achieving durable peace in the restive areas, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government has virtually dumped the peace process launched through the peace committees representing government and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Background interviews with the government officials associated with the peace initiative and input from the members of TTP nominated peace committee led to the conclusion that following the impasse in the peace parleys with militants and the inability of both the committees - government team and TTP backed body -to manage some breakthrough, the PML-N government has decided to try other options for achieving peace in the troubled Waziristan Agency.
Sources in the government informed that before taking the fresh move the government has taken input form all stakeholders including the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa government, which also wanted negotiated solution to the problem.
Member of Taliban nominated peace panel Prof Ibrahim termed it a positive move and said that negotiations process should roll on irrespective of the people behind it because the target before all of them is lasting peace in the troubled areas and to mitigate the sufferings of the people facing the brunt of this unholy war for the past so many years.
He said that some of the members of this tribal jirga including the Jirga chief Haji Sher Mohammad wield strong power in the troubled areas and hoped that these people would help take the things in positive direction.
He did not agree to the notion that the stepping in of the tribal chieftains and Meshrans (elders) would undermine the role of their committee and said that they were taking the peace process forward when all of a sudden the government side backed out resulting in the stalemate in talks with TTP. “The government is responsible for deadlock in the talks,” Prof Ibrahim said, adding when they came up with the schedule of the next direct contact between the government and TTP Shura, members of the government side went missing and even not responded to their phone calls.
Prof Abraham, a JI central leader and former parliamentarian, spoke high of some of the members of tribal jirga from Waziristan Agency including its chief Haji Sher Mohammad who, according to him, have great influence in the troubled areas and if their services are utilised in appropriate fashion, things would tend to improve in these areas.
Sources in the government informed The Nation that the earlier process to engage Taliban in direct talks was dropped because of the unreasonable demands coming form Taliban Shura and their inability to maintain peace even after the announcement of ceasefire. On seeing the cracks and fissures in their loose conglomeration of militant groups having diverse viewpoints and ideologies it was finally decided by the government to utilise other avenues to achieve their target of bringing lasting peace in these troubled areas, sources explained.
These sources claimed that though their was no formal discussion with any political party on the matter yet by and large all the major political parties, especially those having direct links and roots in these areas, were of the considered view that only a tribal jirga comprising the Meshrans (elders) and chieftains from the area could play effective role in effectively engaging the militants in meaningful dialogue.
Sharing his views on the constitution of the government committee for negotiations with the militants, Chief of Quami Watan Party Aftab Ahmad Sherpao had said how a body comprising bureaucrats could engage militants in meaningful talks and suggested that instead of these babus the government should have engaged tribal Meshrans for negotiating peace with the militants.
Similarly, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had time and again pointed out flaws in the peace initiative launched by the government and stressed the need for engaging tribal elders in brokering peace.
A source in Jamaat-e-Islami said that though they were supportive of all the moves aimed at negotiated settlement of the dispute, yet they denied having an input or role in the fresh move of the government to engage the elders from Waziristan Agency in flushing out of foreign militants from the area for which they were given 15 days time.
The coordinator of the Taliban nominated peace panel Maulana Yousuf Shah commenting on this new development said that the jirga comprised those people who have little influence on the militants. He was of the view that the effective and meaningful negotiations with Taliban Shura could only be done through the committee headed by Maulana Samiul Haq, chief of his own faction of Jamiat-I-Ulema-I-Islam, who is greatly revered by the Taliban.
To a question he said that the role of their committee could not be undermined by such initiatives and came down hard on the government for backing out from a very serious peace initiative launched with militants through their channel.
Sources aware of the developments taking place on this front informed The Nation that the fresh initiative would yield positive results as the tribal jirga would be moving in the troubled areas with the blessing of the armed forces and the nitty-gritty of the plan was discussed in detail with the Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani.