LAHORE - In the presence of contradictory statements by senior most PPP leaders on Army’s direct involvement into the peace talks with the TTP, there seems utter confusion in party’s top hierarchy on this most important national issue.

Former Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani who is also senior Vice-Chairman of the party on Wednesday said that he was surprised to know that Pakistan Army has been kept out of the negotiations with the TTP so far. 

“The Army is not only part of the government, it is also a custodian of country’s security. I wonder why it was not made part of the dialogue with the TTP before”, he remarked.

During a brief talk with journalists at the residence of an old PPP guard, Dilawar Butt, the former prime minister was asked to comment on media reports that the government had now decided to directly involve the Army into the peace talks with the banned outfit.

Gilani also said that ultimately the present govt would have to follow the counter-terrorism policy earlier adopted by the PPP regime.

Later in the day, Leader of the Opposition, Khursheed Shah made an altogether different statement on the same issue.

Khursheed Shah opposed Army’s direct involvement into the talks with the Taliban, stating that Army’s role was to follow government’s directions and not to hold talks or make peace deals with the militants.

Talking to media outside the Parliament House, Khursheed Shah also said that inclusion of any Army person into the government committee to hold talks with the Taliban will be dangerous.

“Usually, an Army officer is included in such a committee in case of a ceasefire with enemy country after a battle. But if it was essential due to any reason, only a retired Army man could be included in the committee”, he explained, adding, that a dangerous situation may emerge if the talks fail.

Following the contradictory statements by two senior PPP leaders on the same subject and that too on the same day, The Nation contacted party’s spokesperson, Qamar Zaman Kaira to know the actual stance of PPP on the issue of Army’s direct involvement in the talks with the Taliban.

Kaira declined to offer any comment on the plea that he would be in a position to present PPP’s point of view once it was officially confirmed that govt had taken such a decision.

On Gilani’s statement, he said he was not aware of what Gilani had said on the issue. He, however, said there was no harm in taking input from the Army on the subject but Army’s direct involvement would not be desirable.

Though Kaira avoided making a direct comment on Khursheed Shah’s statement, he willingly got ready to bring some clarity into what the Opposition leader had said on Army’s direct involvement into the talks.

 “Most probably he (Shah) might have opposed Army’s inclusion into the government committee on the assumption that if the talks yield no results, the Army would be blamed for talks failure”, he said