ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan and ISI DG Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam on Monday discussed the talks’ strategy with government committee, which will be meeting Taliban Shura within the next couple of days, possibly even today.
Informed sources told The Nation that broader contours of dialogue framework was finalised in the meeting held under the chair of the interior minister. The ISI DG attended the meeting on special invitation and he gave his input to the committee on host of issues, besides assuring them of complete support at all stages of dialogue process. Samiul Haq-led three-member body, nominated earlier by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) would remain part of the parleys and Yousuf Shah and Prof Ibrahim would likely go along the government committee for dialogue on the venue mutually agreed upon. Although government as well as TTP committee members are tight-lipped about the exact location of venue but insiders in both these committees and government circles informed that the meeting would be held somewhere in FR Bannu.
Sources further said that during the course of negotiations on finalising the venue the Sami committee, after consulting the Taliban Shura, picked the rendezvous of their choice in FR Bannu. A couple of standby venues were also finalised and the meeting would be held on any of these venues, the sources confirmed.
Earlier in a media chat, TTP nominated committee member Prof Ibrahim said that meeting with TTP Shura would be held somewhere in Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) within a couple of days. A source in government said the meeting would be held on Tuesday but in case the bad weather persisted it could be deferred for a day or so. The source said the venue was a trivial matter and the important thing is that both sides have agreed to sit across the table to talk out the contentious issues and move toward a negotiated settlement of the dispute. To a question, TTP nominated committee coordinator Yousuf Shah said that once the two sides would sit across the table the framework of peace talks would be finalised and both sides would come up with their demands. About extension in TTP announced ceasefire, Yousuf said, “Obviously, talks cannot progress without extension in the (one-month) ceasefire.”
People in the know of the situation said that they have no idea about the TTP Shura members who are to take part in the direct talks but most likely some four to five Shura members would be meeting the government team. Government sources said that in the first direct interaction no major decision or breakthrough is expected; however, the assurance from TTP about continuing the talks and announcement of extension in the ceasefire for indefinite period is likely.
Government sources said there was no pre-condition for talks from both sides and once the two sides would sit across the table they would draw the future course of the talks and also put forth their demands. They said in the Tuesday’s meeting, held under the interior minister, initial demands of the government for the peace parleys were finalised, but nobody was available to comment on it.