ISLAMABAD - In an expression of sincerity and commitment to peace through dialogue, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif went to the residence of PTI Chairman Imran Khan to have his support on the second phase of peace parleys with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan drove Prime Minister Nawaz to the residence of Imran in Banni Gala without any official protocol and they spent well over an hour with him wherein host of issues relating to government peace initiative came under discussion, according to a PM Office statement.
Sharif was also accompanied by his Special Assistant and Coordinator of defunct government committee Irfan Siddiqui and Asif Kirmani while Imran Khan was assisted by central leaders of his party Makhdoom Javid Hashmi, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Jahangir Tareen, Shirin Mazari and Naeemul Haq.
Political analysts termed it a smart move on part of the prime minister, who with this show of magnanimity managed to secure Imran’s support not only on the ongoing peace initiative but also won his backing for military action in case of dialogue failure. Sources said that during the meeting, Nawaz expressed his resolve to take the peace initiative to its logical end, as he did not want to see shedding of more blood of innocent people.
Imran Khan praised the government initiative and said that his party would fully support it and it was ready to play any role which government would desire on their part. A PTI leader who attended the meeting informed The Nation that on the demand of Imran Khan the issue of ongoing attacks on polio vaccination workers in Tribal Areas would also be included in the agenda of talks with the militants and they would be asked to help ensure security to polio teams in the troubled areas.
Sources further said PTI chief conceded to the prime minister’s request to replace KP’s nominee MNA Gulzar Khan with Rustam Shah Mohmand, who was a member of the previous four-member government team of negotiators. Sources said that rest of the names picked by the government for holding direct talks with TTP also came for a brief review in the meeting.
Sources in government said that Prime Minister Nawaz made Imran commit that PTI would also support the government in operation against those elements who are averse to dialogue and not ready to shun their disruptive activities. PTI sources informed that KP Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak gave a detailed view of people affected by militancy in various parts of the province and the troubled tribal areas and sought the help of federal government in their proper management. The PTI chairman has also took up the issue of over 600,000 residing the North Waziristan and hoped that government would take proper care of these people.
A source in PTI informed that while appreciating the concern shown by prime minister on the plight of Tharparker drought victims and announcement of special relief announced for them during his day-long visit to the troubled areas Imran Khan urged him to take punitive action against those responsible for what he termed criminal negligence. The prime minister assured PTI chairman of appropriate action in this regard.
Later, after the departure of PM and his associates, Imran Khan at a media chat was all praise for the government for taking bold peace initiative. He assured complete support to the peace process. Responding to a question, he said it was the great achievement that government has succeeded in creating a divide among the militant groups— separating those in favour of dialogue from those against it. He said that as a last resort the government has the option of military action against those not ready to negotiate peace through peaceful means.
Sources aware of the behind the scene developments informed The Nation that the meeting which seemed spontaneous was actually fixed a couple of days back when Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan had telephonic conversation with Imran Khan seeking a nominee from KP government for the new peace committee.