Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid on Monday clarified that the government has so far assigned no person the responsibility of spearheading peace talks with the Taliban.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been leading the process of peace talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) personally so far… No one [else] has been assigned this responsibility,” he told The Express Tribune.
“According to the resolution of the all parties conference on terrorism, all parties authorised the prime minister to initiate negotiations with the Taliban to root out militancy from the country,” he said, adding, “The prime minister accepted this task as a challenge and has requested all religious and political forces to assist him in this regard.”
When questioned, Rashid declined to comment over the row between Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Maulana Samiul Haq over leading the peace process and said the conflict was both leaders’ ‘personal matter’.
He added that although both religious leaders were deemed ‘extraordinarily important’ by the government in the context of holding talks with the Taliban, neither of them had ever been tasked to lead the negotiations by Premier Nawaz.
Talking about a meeting between the prime minister and Samiul Haq, the information minister said: “The premier took the JUI-S chief into confidence over the recent military action in Waziristan and invited him to assist in the peace talks process.”
When contacted by The Express Tribune, Sami said: “Yes, Nawaz Sharif has asked me to play a role to influence the [peace] process due to my contacts with the Taliban.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2014.