(MENAFN -Khaleej Times) Government negotiators in brief meeting with Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan?s (TTP) intermediaries here warned that the fledgling peace process could not move forward if attacks continued.
“The Taleban should forthwith publicly announce cessation of all hostile acts that undermine peace and implementation of such pronouncement must be ensured,” said a joint statement following a hurriedly-focal led meeting on Friday evening.
The meeting between the four-member government negotiating committee and the Taleban intermediary team came a day after the TTP claimed credit for a deadly bomb attack on a police bus in Karachi which killed over a dozen policemen and injured many more. The session was supposed to discuss progress in peace efforts following the Waziristan trip of the Taleban intermediaries — but the discussion was overshadowed by the Karachi bombing and restricted to a one-item agenda — terrorist attacks.
Irfan Siddiqui, coordinator of the government committee, confirmed to reporters that the government negotiators sought a clarification from the Taleban on whether they were interested in talks or not.
“We expect a direct, public pronouncement from the Taleban that they want to pursue dialogue. And such an announcement must be followed by practical steps. They must prove (by ceasing violent activities) that they want to pursue dialogue,” he said, adding: “The Taleban asked for three days to respond to the government’s demand.”
Apparently Qari Shakeel, the head of the TTP political shura, spoke to the intermediaries directly by telephone and pledged to respond to the government within the next 72 hours. Shakeel also said that a meeting of the shura would be convened soon and the TTP would then respond to the government’s demand.
According to the statement, the two sides regretted the “unabated ‘anti-peace activities’ in the country” avoiding the label the acts as terrorism. It said that such actions would have a negative impact on the ongoing peace efforts.
Referring to the Karachi bombing, the government negotiators said that it would become difficult to pursue peace talks if such incidents continued to happen. “We have clearly told the Taleban committee that talks cannot take place if the TTP doesn’t cease attacks,” Siddiqi said.
He conceded: “We haven’t been able to offer concrete results to the nation after 15 to 20 days of talks. Conversely, around two dozen terror attacks have occurred during this period which claimed over 100 lives.”
The Taleban intermediaries expect progress over the next few days. “Currently, there is no ceasefire, but we hope some progress will be made in two or three days,” Maulana Yousuf Shah, the Taleban committee’s coordinator, told The Express Tribune.
The Taleban intermediaries also admitted that the recent attacks would have negative impact on the peace process. They said that the government should also publicly announce that it would not carry out any ‘provocative’ activity. They added that it was necessary for durable peace that both sides did not use force.
“The first priority is establishment of peace in the country. Negotiations should not be through the media,” Maulana Samiul Haq told journalists after the meeting.
According to the statement, the government negotiators reiterated their stance that more confidence-building measures would follow only after complete cessation of hostilities in the country. —