The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s decision to withdraw its offer for peace talks with the incoming government will not alter PML-N and PTI’s position, the two leading parties that have advocated peace negotiations with the militants.
This is the view of Raja Zafarul Haq, chairman of PML-N. Haq said, “Ups and downs are part of such an exercise. We will continue our efforts for a politically negotiated settlement to the conflict.” He admitted though that talks were only possible if both sides were willing.
However, PTI spokeswoman Dr Shireen Mazari said TTP’s decision would ‘fulfill America’s designs’.
“The Americans are opposed to such talks as they have sabotaged it,” she said. The timing of the latest drone attack by the US which killed Waliur Rehman – one of the top leaders of TTP – is significant, she noted, adding that “the attack by the US comes at a time when the transition of power is about to be completed in Pakistan.”
But the PML-N chairman insisted talks with TTP could be initiated only when all local and international stakeholders were on the same page.
“It is not a one-to-one issue. There are several international players involved in the whole affair,” Haq explained.
“However we will continue our efforts for the solution of the conflict. But two-way efforts are required for the peace negotiations.”
Mazari said PTI was not disappointed with the militant group’s decision and was optimistic her party will extend its full cooperation to PML-N to achieve peace in the region.
“Give us some time,” was her reply when asked as to when her party will ask the federal government to initiate talks with the Taliban. She did not regard TTP’s withdrawal as a setback to peace.
Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer, Syed Munawar Hasan, has also held the US responsible for Taliban’s decision to withdraw its offer.
“Recent drone attacks by Washington on the TTP sabotaged the prospect of Pakistan-TTP peace dialogue,” he said. Hasan was still optimistic of the dialogue, urging PML-N leaders to approach the Taliban to initiate talks.
“Mian Nawaz Sharif should go to Fata (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) to open talks with TTP leaders. It is high time for Pakistan to contact the Taliban. That is the need of the hour.”
Fazlur Rehman says situation is ‘complex’
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman termed TTP’s withdrawal of peace talks ‘complex’, saying that “Waliur Rehman’s death was a sad development which derailed the entire process of peace talks with the Taliban that the upcoming government was planning,”
Speaking to journalists after a meeting of the party’s parliamentary committee on Friday, Rehman said the group’s second-in-command was in favour of talks with the government.
“TTP is the biggest militant group and any success in talks with it can neutralise a number of smaller groups operating in the tribal areas of Pakistan. All militant groups active in the area would have come to TTP in case of talks between them and the government,” Rehman added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2013.