Formal dialogue with Taliban yet to be initiated

Sep 02, 2013| Courtesy by :

ISLAMABAD: The government announced on Sunday that it would consult all parties in parliament before initiating formal talks with the Taliban.

Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar. — File photo

Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar. — File photo

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants to take the heads of all parliamentary parties into confidence after returning from Karachi next week,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said.

He said the government had not yet initiated ‘formal’ talks with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). However, he did not deny reports that backchannel negotiations were already under way.

It may be mentioned that Information Minister Pervez Rashid had told Dawn on Friday that ‘backchannel’ talks between the government and Taliban were taking place and official contacts would be made soon

The interior minister issued in a statement on issued in Sunday said the “prime minister will soon take parliament into confidence before holding formal talks with the TTP”. He said he was satisfied that all political parties were on the same page on the issue of establishing lasting peace. “There is a broad-based consensus among all political parties on the issue.”

The minister also said that the “TTP too has opened the door for dialogue and peace”.

However, he did not say with which group of Taliban the government planned to hold talks, on what conditions and who would guarantee any agreement reached in the process.

The minister advised the media to be careful while reporting on issues relating to terrorism.

“It is a sensitive issue and, therefore, the media should avoid publicising reports attributed to any federal minister and government official without mentioning their names,” he said.

He also advised the media to first confirm a report on the sensitive issue with the interior ministry before publicising it.

Chaudhry Nisar expressed doubts that some elements claiming to be government officials had started talks with the Taliban and some people claiming to be close to the militants had offered their services to play the role of mediators.

Such reports, he said, would harm the peace process and create confusions.

As far as the government was concerned, the minister said, it had chalked out a plan and all mainstream political parties would be informed about it. “It would be premature to say that a dialogue has been started between the government and the TTP,” he said.

The government recently announced that it would convene a conference to seek proposals for preparing guidelines for talks.

The conference could not take place for one reason or another but leaders of mainstream parties, including the PPP, PTI, ANP and PML-Q have endorsed the idea of holding talks with militants.

Information Minister Pervez Rashid said on Friday that the government was exploring all options for restoring peace in the country and contacts had been made with the Taliban at different levels.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman told reporters at the Parliament House the same day that the government and Taliban were coming close to each other on the need to hold negotiations.