Pakistan govt, Taliban panel hold talks

Posted By: PTI
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Islamabad, Feb 6: After initial hiccups, Pakistani state negotiators and a Taliban-nominated committee met at an undisclosed location on Thursday to frame a roadmap for parleys aimed at ending terrorism and bringing peace to the country.

The coordinator of the government's four-member committee, senior journalist Irfan Siddiqui, said the panel will negotiate with the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with an open mind.

The state negotiators earlier met in Islamabad to discuss how to start the dialogue and take it forward. The TTP-nominated committee and state negotiators were originally scheduled to hold talks on February 4 but the meeting was put off after the government panel sought clarifications on some unspecified issues.

The committee nominated by the TTP comprises Samiul Haq, a radical cleric known as the "father of the Taliban", Jamaat-e- Islami leader Ibrahim Khan and cleric Abdul Aziz of the radical Lal Masjid. Earlier, Aziz said the Taliban wanted to have a meeting with their nominees.

He said the panel was deliberating to visit Waziristan or to call the Taliban to a spot near Peshawar for a meeting. He further said they could ask Taliban to provide their demands in writing. However, a final decision would be made after meeting the government committee.

The state negotiators include Siddiqui, former ambassaor Rustam Shah Mohmand, journalist Rahimullah Yousufzai and former ISI officer Maj (retired) Muhammad Amir. Meanwhile, cleric Samiul Haq telephoned Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and discussed ways to bring peace to the country.

Khan told him the government initiated the dialogue process with seriousness as it wants to normalise the situation. He said the country and the government are praying for the success of the dialogue.

The government will extend full cooperation to its committee for the talks, he said. Haq appreciated Khan's role in promoting dialogue and hoped it would yield positive results, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.


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