Taliban begin consultations to respond to govt talks offer

Published: January 31, 2014
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File photo of TTP chief Maulvi Fazalullah. PHOTO: AFP

File photo of TTP chief Maulvi Fazalullah. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban on Friday have started consultations to respond to the latest dialogue offer by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said a Taliban leader privy to the talks in conversation with The Express Tribune.

The political shura or council started its meeting at an unknown location to discuss the government’s offer and float recommendations, said the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

“The political council will forward its decisions to the central council for a final decision,” he said.

The central council is scheduled to meet on Saturday, he added.

Qari Shakil Ahmed Haqqani, a Taliban commander from Mohmand Agency, is presiding over the eight-member political council’s meeting, which coincided with the meeting in Islamabad of the four-member committee formed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif this week.

“I think our response could be positive. But the Taliban are likely to make some demands,” the TTP leader said. He also indicated that the TTP could raise some reservations over two members of the government’s committee.

TTP chief Maulvi Fazalullah is likely to chair the meeting of the 16-member central council at an unknown place on Saturday, the TTP leader said.

Pakistani officials say Fazalullah operates from eastern Afghanistan after he has regrouped his fighters in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province.

The Taliban leader said the political council has the power to take a decision whether or not to hold talks with the government. However, the central council will take a final decision on recommendations by the political council.

On January 29, Nawaz had offered peace talks to the Taliban and had constituted a four-member committee for talks with them.

The committee comprises Adviser on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui, former ISI official Major (retd) Muhammad Amir, senior journalist Rahimullah Yousufzai as well as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and former Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar would assist the committee and the premier would oversee it.

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