ISLAMABAD - JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman strongly opposing the idea of army’s representation in peace committee to hold direct negotiations with the Taliban has said that it would be tantamount to weaken the status of state institution and enhance the profile of non-state violent actors.
“Are we suggesting that defence establishment is not under the political government’s control?” remarked religio-political party chief exclusively talking to The Nation on Saturday.
The important coalition partner of ruling clique (PML-N) is deviating from incumbent government’s policy for the second time in one week, as JUI-F has also expressed strong reservations on the contents of National Internal Security Policy (NISP), (2014-18) related to religious seminaries.
About possible army’s inclusion in committee to hold direct negotiations with the TTP, Maulana said they want their input but are against the idea of engaging them in direct negotiations. “We do not want them to be directly negotiating with Taliban,” he added.
It would not be out of place to mention here that JUI-F a couple of months before disassociated itself from the peace talks between the government negotiators and TTP’s nominated committee.
Sharing his suggestions, Maulana said, “If it were a jirga we would have all backed up behind the scene. I simply do not like the idea of tripartite talks,” he added.When asked the fate of proposed committee to hold direct dialogue, the JUI-F chief said the newly proposed direct committee may also prove fruitless, as local level negotiation with the representation of FATA is imperative to achieve desired goals. “My suggestion of using local people’s Jirga in FATA for engaging with the Taliban locally was actually aimed at keeping the distance between the state and the TTP,” he said, adding that directly engaging the Taliban at state level is to create a situation of state versus state level dialogue. “It is the folly of current mechanism. TTP must be enjoying the status of state actor, thanks to current committees,” he said.
He further said the JUI-F reservations about previous peace committee have also been proved right as it had lacked the capacity, it lacked representation of FATA, it was non-political and the establishment was not on board. “Otherwise, why it has been made dysfunctional? Same future we are foreseeing about the direct committee,” he added.
Sharing his vision, he said that militant groups should have been involved in talks. If it is not possible, militants of Waziristan including those who have agreements with the government should have been engaged so the TTP’s clout might not enhance, he added.
“But only engaging the TTP it has been proved that other militant groups will not abide by its decision; hence no ceasefire could be made effective and chance of meaningful dialogue will disappear, and taking on militarily will become more challenging”, he added.
Staff Reporter from Peshawar adds: Terming National Internal Security Policy Bill a conspiracy against religious seminaries, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Saturday announced to hold a rally against it in Peshawar on March 27.
Addressing media persons after presiding over a provincial executive council meeting here, KPK JUI-F Senior Naib Amir Maulana Ataur Rehman criticised the National Internal Security Policy Bill and termed it a conspiracy against religious seminaries.
“Our party is committed to protecting religious seminaries and will observe a protest day in Peshawar on March 27,” Ataur-Rehman announced. He said the government, through this law, would target seminaries and religious people. He asserted the religious seminaries were spreading message of love and trying to safeguard the Islamic civilisation.
Maulana Ataur Rehman said the talks between the government and Taliban were not more than eyewash and would likely to end in a military operation. In the past, government had engaged in dialogue with militants in Swat and South Waziristan, but it culminated in an operation.
He said the government had not prepared any mechanism for talks with Taliban. He questioned how the government which had accepted TTP as a state within the state could compel Taliban to put down arms.
JUI-F leader said his party had offered to play role in peace talks, but the government did not respond in this regard. He said JUI-F had demanded the government take the military on board regarding negotiations with militants, but it seemed the military had taken the government into confidence for an operation and now the government was trying to develop consensus in this connection.
Coming down hard on the PTI-led provincial government in KPK, he said no government was in sight in the province. The PTI had made promises to the electorate to end terrorism and corruption, but it had badly failed on both the fronts, he alleged.
“Sehat Ka Insaf Programme” worth billions of rupees was used by PTI for its advertising campaign, which could not be justified, he alleged. PTI had promised that the chief minister would not use his official residence, but he was using three official residences, he further alleged.
He also said the tripartite alliance of Awami National Party, Pakistan People’s Party and JUIF was going on smoothly, adding the three parties had managed their organisational structures at central and provincial levels, he concluded.