TTP’s ‘unconstitutional’ demands won’t be accepted

Govt to convene in-camera session of parliament on peace deal with group

Kamran Yousaf June 23, 2022
Representational picture. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE


The government on Wednesday said it would not accept any ‘unconstitutional’ demands of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Moreover, any peace deal with the group would be strictly in accordance with the Constitution and after achieving a consensus, official sources told The Express Tribune following a high-powered civil-military huddle.

The meeting on national security was convened by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and attended by the army chief, the director general Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and other security officials.

Also in attendance were federal ministers as well as key parliamentary leaders -- both from the Senate and the National Assembly.

Read more: Talks with TTP being held under constitutional framework: Sanaullah

The purpose of the huddle was to discuss internal and external security challenges, with particular focus on the ongoing efforts to seek a peace deal with the TTP.

A series of meetings were held between the representatives of Pakistan and the banned TTP in Afghanistan over the past several weeks.

A tribal jirga comprising politicians and other known figures from the erstwhile tribal areas also visited Kabul recently and held face-to-face meetings with the TTP leadership.

The Afghan Taliban government, particularly the Haqqani network, is acting as a mediator between the Pakistani government and the TTP.

As a result of a flurry of meetings, the TTP had announced a ceasefire for an indefinite period.

Last week, the Afghan Taliban spokesperson had told reporters in Kabul that the talks between the two sides were concluded, hoping for a positive outcome.

However, the secrecy surrounding the peace talks has raised concerns among certain coalition partners, particularly the PPP.

Also read: Afghan Taliban confirm Pakistan-TTP 'indefinite' ceasefire

PPP Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari went on record in expressing his reservations, insisting that parliament must be taken on board.

Against this backdrop, Wednesday's meeting was convened to brief the coalition partners and other key parliamentary leaders about the circumstances and the progress made so far in the peace talks with the TTP.

Although it was officially not confirmed, reports suggested that Peshawar Corps Commander and former DG ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed also attended the meeting and briefed the participants about the progress in talks with the TTP.

He led a Pakistani delegation in April in talks with the TTP representatives.

The meeting was informed that Pakistan was giving peace a chance as the Afghan Taliban were keen to seek the resolution of the TTP issue through dialogue.

The Afghan Taliban had pushed for a renewed deal in April after Pakistan warned that it would no more tolerate cross-border TTP attacks.

The Pakistani warning is believed to have played a decisive role in pushing the Afghan Taliban to bring the TTP on the negotiating table.

Although the TTP agreed to a ceasefire, the final deal hinges on certain thorny issues.

The key sticking point was the merger of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The TTP is seeking the reversal of those changes while at the same time wants to maintain the status of its outfit.

Pakistani officials, however, told them that the decision to merge Fata with the rest of Pakistan was made by the country’s parliament.

Therefore, to undo that step would require parliament’s consent and that, too, with a two-thirds majority.

A statement issued by the PM Office and a joint news conference by the interior and information ministers confirmed that the talks with the TTP was the main subject of discussion during the huddle.

The government would soon convene an in-camera session of parliament to brief lawmakers on the issue.

“The participants of the meeting were given a detailed briefing about the ongoing talks with the TTP,” read a statement issued after the meeting.

They (lawmakers) were briefed about the background and circumstances under which talks were initiated with the banned terror outfit, it added.

The meeting was informed that the Afghan Taliban were mediating those talks and the government-led team comprising civil and military authorities were holding negotiations with the TTP.

The participants of the meeting were further told that the talks were being held in line with the ambit of the Constitution. “[The] Final decision will be made strictly in accordance with the Constitution and with the approval of parliament through consensus.”

The meeting was also briefed about the security situation along the Afghan border. The participants were told that Pakistan was playing a positive role in establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The participants of the meeting expressed the hope that Afghan soil would never be used against Pakistan.

It was also noted that the writ of the State had been established in Pakistan due to the sacrifices of armed forces.

It was observed that there was no more organised terrorist infrastructure in the country.


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