ISLAMABAD - One of the members of the government’s first committee formed to negotiate peace with the Pakistani Taliban, Major (Retd) Amir on Friday said that the Armed Forces are the real stakeholders in the matter and their leadership should decide the future course of the dialogue for achieving better results.

Speaking during an interview with BBC Urdu, he said that the Army should be on the driving seat in the peace process because they are not only “affected but also capable.” Amir said that after the formation of new government committee, the previous one has been dissolved as it was an uphill task to keep it going due to continuous attention of the media on its members. The retired Major, who played a vital role in the initial dialogue process with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has often kept a fair distance with the media. He was reportedly involved in secret negotiations with former TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud as well hence became a close aide to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“No matter what you call it......I’ve informed the Prime Minister that the real say in the matter is that of the armed forces.” The new government negotiators have rightly decided to stay away from the media, he said who appeared displeased with Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s severe criticism aimed at the first government committee.

When asked why the ongoing peace efforts are any different from the previous attempts by the State, he replied, “Previously pacts were made with individuals whereas this time around the agreement will be reached with an outfit.” “Secondly, the ceasefire announcement is unprecedented.... That’s why I consider the current process as superior,” he added. Speaking about opponents of the peace process, he said that on one hand there are militant outfits like Ahrarul Hind and Ansarul Hind and on the other members of the Parliamentary Committee were against the talks except Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Despite Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s statement regarding Taliban’s demand of releasing non-combatants being rejected by the government, Amir claimed that the government was looking into the demand sincerely.He said that the government has also demanded the release of Dr Ajmal Gilani and Shahbaz Taseer from their custody.