LAHORE - The government is expected to include two to three new members from tribal areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in its team of peace negotiators to give it an ‘indigenous look’ and make it more acceptable, The Nation has learnt.
A senior member of government peace team shared with this correspondent on Sunday that a meeting with Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership is likely to take place this week, after getting input from the TTP-named negotiators who are in contact with the Taliban.
About talks timeframe, he said, “Certain quarters in the government desire earliest response from Taliban whether they adhere to constitution or not. In case of negative response from the TTP, they would go for other options, including even the military operation if needed, with the consent of the ruling elite.”
Expressing his fears about the alleged negative role of some TTP-named peace delegates, he said, “I am of the considered opinion, based on information from current TTP leadership, that they have no desire to demand anything outside the constitution and I believe that they will not press on any demand for changing the incumbent governance system when we meet them this week.”
He said that certain elements among TTP peace team have been making overt and covert efforts to influence the Taliban to make some rigid demands and reject the constitution so as to impose a new rigid system of governance as per their interpretation of shria.
“The time will prove that these elements are playing the role of saboteurs; they are not serving the cause of Islam but their own political interests.” About Abdul Aziz he said, “Though he doesn’t matter much in the overall dialogue process but his negative statements could dampen the success chances.”
Presenting a clarification on their own role, the government peace team member said, “We have no mandate to accept or reject the demands of TTP when we meet them as we are only messengers and the right to accept or reject any demand of the TTP lies with the elected parliament and the government.”
He warned that those who support military action should keep in mind that many of the ‘wanted extremists’ would cross the Durand Line and flee to Afghanistan fearing massive military action in case of peace talks’ failure. He also said that any hasty action in the tribal region would create more affectees and a new flood of internal refugees, putting pressure on economic and employment infrastructure of the other provinces.
Rustam Shah Mohmand, who is also a government peace committee member, when contacted, said, “The peace mission will be a cumbersome and difficult task and we should not expect a quick result, but we will try our best to bring permanent peace remaining within the constitutional fold and the political will of the elected parliament and the government.”