ISLAMABAD: After the Taliban issued a call for ceasefire on Saturday, members of the government-nominated peace committee welcomed the call, terming it a major breakthrough and an opportunity to hold direct talks between the two sides.
Major (retd) Mohammad Aamir, part of the government’s peace committee negotiating with the Taliban, suggested that direct talks should now take place between the government and the Taliban as it is high “time for taking and making important decisions.”
“I do not see any relevance now for the government committee as we have succeeded to convince the Taliban to come to the negotiation table and declare ceasefire,” Aamir told The Express Tribune in an interview.
He disclosed that the “backdoor efforts” carried out by him and the Jamiat Ulema Islam -Samiul Haq Group leader Yousaf Shah resulted in the Taliban-declared ceasefire.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had also been involved in the backdoor contacts, he disclosed.
“I suggest involvement of the state to open direct contact as we (the govt committee) are non-state actors. I have suggested having the army, the governor, the chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the interior minister involved in the dialogue,” he said.
“A responsible behaviour is also required to make the process successful,” Aamir added.
He said he had conveyed his suggestion to the interior minister and will also share them with the prime minister.
“Even if the government thinks our services are required, we could play the role of facilitators,” he said.
Claiming that he had established direct contacts with the Taliban over the past few days, he had managed to encourage them to declare a ceasefire.
“They had agreed in principle and later conveyed the decision to their chief, Maulvi Fazalullah, for a final decision,” Major (retd) Aamir said.
Defending his suggestion, he said since certain sensitive issues would come under discussion in the next phase, it should be carried out by the government and other decision-making institutions.
“Their involvement is a must as to what to decide and when to decide,” he argued.
“I also suggest secrecy in the next stage as issues of sensitive nature would come under discussions in the dialogue which could not be shared with the media,” he said.
“We now need serious efforts to make the process successful. The army should now be on driving seat,” Major (retd) Aamir said.
Ceasefire a breakthrough
Meanwhile‚ coordinator of the government’s dialogue committee Irfan Siddiqui described the call as positive and result-oriented.
In an interview with Radio Pakistan, Siddiqui said this is a sort of breakthrough in seventeen-day old dialogue process.
Siddiqui said that they will wait for formal communication on the subject from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and review it objectively. Once a written document is received‚ the government committee will consider resuming the stalled dialogue process.
He said the dialogue process was proceeding well but violent activities by the other side had caused setback. Therefore‚ it was felt that there will be no point in continuing the dialogue.
He hoped that once the dialogue process gets back on track, it is not derailed due to violence. To a question‚ he said the ceasefire will help make dialogue process successful.
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah also welcomed the ceasefire announcement.
In a statement in Sukkur‚ he said the country needs peace irrespective about how it is achieved.
Meanwhile, Member of the Taliban dialogue committee Professor Ibrahim said all the Taliban groups would be bound to observe ceasefire.