LAHORE - Close aides of Imran Khan say that PTI chairman can become part of the peace talks if given lead role in government peace committee with complete authority to negotiate a deal which is viable for the state and provides room for the Taliban’s rightful demands.

Senior leaders of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) in a recent meeting have advised the party chief to consider joining talks with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) if concerned quarters convince the rulers to invite him for leading the peace process in an effort to provide it a popular support to brighten chances of success, informed associates of Imran confided to The Nation on Friday.

However, they said PTI chairman would consider joining the peace process only if he would be given a free hand by the government to negotiate with the militants and strike a deal within the framework of the constitution.

They quoted certain senior party leaders, who advised Imran for this option, as saying that if the government is really interested in the success of the peace process then it should recognise PTI chief’s independent role for finding a peaceful solution to end years’ long insurgency. They added that PTI was the first political party that advocated talks with the TTP and it was ready to play its role.When asked about TTP’s naming of Imran for their committee, they quoted the same party leaders as saying that PTI desires a negotiated peace with the TTP but it would never become part of the dialogue team of the militias who have been attacking the state institutions and the citizens.

Responding to the TTP offer, Imran few days ago had said that Pakistani Taliban should form a committee of their own men or include those who have direct connections with them, as he was not a guy to play from their side. His close aides said that Imran would fully support military operation in the tribal belt if peace was given a real chance but it failed due to lack of sincerity on part of TTP leadership.

An adviser and close aide of Imran, Fauzia Kasuri said, “Who could be the best person for this daunting task other than Imran Khan who leads a popular party, have the support of millions of people across the country and can effectively steer of the peace-wheel.”

She said Imran if given complete independence and authority to lead the peace team by the government, could definitely play his due role to end the bloodshed. However, his efforts would be in the ambit of the constitution, she assured, pointing out that their parry is running the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the same constitution.

Rulers should shun US pressure for talks success, says JI leader

KP Senior Minister and JI deputy chief Sirajul Haq has stressed upon the government to shun the US pressure and prefer the country’s interests to ensure success of the talks with the Taliban.

Talking to the media men at the Syed Maudoodi institute, he said there should be talks for the restoration of peace all over the country and not for any particular area.

The JI deputy chief said that the enforcement of the Shariah was the demand of the 180 million Pakistanis and not of the Taliban alone. He said both the government and the Taliban should be vigilant of the conspiracies to sabotage the talks.

He said that members of the committees from both sides should get an opportunity to meet the President, the Prime Minister and also the Army chief.