ISLAMABAD - The government and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan have finalised the venue for holding direct talks with the aim to broker peace through dialogue, announced TTP nominated panel head Samiul Haq on Saturday. The two sides would sit across the table in next few days.
The announcement came after the meeting between the government and TTP nominated committees here at Punjab House held under the chair of Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan. However, the venue agreed upon in the meeting by two sides was not disclosed owing to security reasons.
“The venue is mutually agreed upon by two sides and (area around it) will be declared ‘peace zone’,” Sami said soon after meeting with government committee. But he refused to give further details about the venue and other related matters citing security reasons.
Initially, militants had proposed declaring some areas on the borders of North and South Waziristan demilitarised zones for free and safe movement of negotiators, while government had proposed Bannu Airport and few other spots in FR Bannu for holding of the parleys.
When asked, TTP committee coordinator Yousuf Shah said that venue was picked from the proposed locations, but he too declined even to give a hint about the place, where according to him both sides would sit across the table in a next few days.
Sources in the know of these developments informed The Nation that two to three places from among the proposed locations have been finalised and the two sides could meet on any of these locations in coming days. The TTP team would likely be represented by four to five Shura members in these direct talks with government but their names have not been announced yet and the same would come to fore when both sides meet, a source privy to these developments further informed.
To a question, Yousuf Shah said that right now no wish list of TTP Shura was given to the government side because it could give the impression of precondition for the peace talks. Once the two sides sit across the negotiation table, they would place their demands and evolve some mechanism to take the peace process forward.
About the list of non-combatant prisoners including women, children and elderly people given to the government, he said that the list of 300 people was given to government because they believed that their release before the talks could have positive impact on the whole process. But, release of these prisoners was not a precondition for talks, he explained.
Responding to media persons’ questions after the meeting with government committee, which lasted for well over two hours, Samiul Haq said that neither side has sought any guarantee, quickly adding that their (TTP nominated panel) presence in the dialogue process would itself be a solid guarantee for both the sides.
Sami said the TTP nominated committee headed by him would remain part of the whole exercise and would play the role of mediator in case of any deadlock. Answering a question, he refuted the news that TTP has refused to meet the government committee outside Waziristan. The message should go clear to all and sundry that both sides are serious and really mean business, he added.
Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan ahead of meeting with TTP nominated committee members held separate meeting with the government committee comprising Habibullah Khan Khattak, Rustam Shah Mohmand, Arbab Muhammad Arif and Fawad Hassan Fawad to fine tune their strategy for the meeting and about the agenda of talks.