ISLAMABAD - Government peace committee Thursday briefed Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan on their first face-to-face interaction with Taliban leadership and the demands put forward by them for keeping the dialogue process rolling.
The Taliban demands include release of their non-combatant prisoners and facilitation in their movement in North Waziristan. The issue would be under the spotlight when TTP nominated committee along with government committee again meet with Nisar today (Friday) with the aim to devise the agenda for the next phase of talks. Obviously, the government's reply on TTP demands would be sought.
Soon after the meeting with government negotiation team, interior minister rang up Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif in London and apprised him of the developments, sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting informed The Nation. It is expected that Premier Sharif on his return from UK would summon the meeting of top civil and military security officials to discuss the TTP demands and the way forward, a government source said.
TTP nominated panel head Samiul Haq in a media interaction said both the committees would meet Nisar on Friday and discusses demands of Taliban and other relevant issues. Our Nowshera reporter reported him telling journalists at Jamia Usmania, Jalozai, that there was need to have a peace zone where representatives from both side could hold talks. In the same breath, he said the peace zone would be announced in the next few days.
The JUI-S chief said that Taliban had handed over a list of 300 to 400 prisoners to government committee during their meeting with Taliban shura. In that list they have mentioned names of prisoners and places from where, according to them, women and children had been picked by forces. The government would confirm all the names on the list which would take some time, he added.
Informed sources said that government committee in its interaction with Taliban leaders had made it clear that government is not holding any women or children in captivity and asked the Shura members attending the meeting to provide them with proof. TTP has expressed willingness to release Islamic College University Peshawar Vice Chancellor Prof Ajmal in swap of a couple of their men.
Sources in TTP nominated panel dispelled the impression that Taliban had refused to release the scions of former Premier Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and late Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer and said that the matter of their release was deferred as they would use these high-profile captives for release of some of their important commanders in government's custody.
TTP nominated panel coordinator Yousuf Shah expressed optimism about success of talks saying both sides are sincere. To a question about the extension in ceasefire, Yousuf said it was very much intact as both sides were observing restraint. "It does not need any formal announcement as both sides are engaged in meaningful dialogue," he said.
Our Peshawar reporter reported another member of TTP panel, Prof Ibrahim, as saying it would take time to bring Taliban to national mainstream because they have grown too strong due to wrong policies of Musharraf and Zardari governments.
He told journalist at Markazi Islami that PM Nawaz Sharif has rightly opted for dialogue and for the first time CBMs have been taken. He said agenda of talks has yet not been finalised but it would be finalised soon.