Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif-led government is at the “conclusive stage” of revival of proposed talks with the Pakistan Taliban,a senior minister has said.
“Yes,we’re (almost) at the conclusive stage to resume talks with the TTP,” Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune on Monday.
“The government has always had a firm belief in reopening peace talks (with the Taliban),” he said.
His remarks came a week after Prime Minister Sharif said that his government is still committed to the revival of proposed talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Rashid said the government would remove any hurdles existing before talks with the Taliban and would press ahead with the initiative without causing any loss to the state.
Quoting sources,the report said that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan discussed the resumption of dialogue with the Taliban with the former army chief Gen (retd) Ashfaq Parvez Kayani yesterday.
Initial plans for dialogue were scuttled last month after a US drone strike killed TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
Hakimullah’s successor Mullah Fazlullah ruled out any prospect of dialogue following the incident,prompting harsh criticism from Islamabad,particularly from the Interior Minister.
“The US does not want peace in Pakistan,” Nisar had said,adding the drone attack was “murder” of the peace process.
According to a senior Interior Ministry official,Nisar is likely to announce the government’s new strategy regarding talks with the TTP by the end of this month.
Before a formal announcement can be made,the government wants an assurance from the US that the drone campaign in Pakistan’s tribal areas would come to a halt,the ministry officials said.
They added that the Interior Minister wants a categorical policy statement from Washington before he sends a delegation of Ulema to the Taliban.
The Taliban had last week hinted that it was open for talks in a statement issued by the banner group on the appointment of the new Pakistan Army chief.
“Nawaz Sharif also demonstrated wisdom while picking the new army chief. Had he picked killer of Muslims of Swat,General Haroon Aslam,as new COAS then all the wishes and desires of the Taliban of holding talks with the government would have died down,” the statement had said.