Sunday, 2 February 2014

Taliban name Imran, Sami on their team



Taliban name Imran, Sami on their team
Other committee members for talks with govt are Maulana Abdul Aziz, Prof Ibrahim, Mufti Kifayatullah
Taliban name Imran, Sami on their team


PESHAWAR/MIRANSHAH - The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan on Saturday said PTI Chairman Imran Khan would be one of five members of a committee set up to hold talks with the government.The announcement came days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif named a similar team to facilitate dialogue with the extremists.“The committee members will hold talks with their interlocutors in the government’s team on our behalf and put forth our point of view,” TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told AFP.Imran Khan is joined by JUI-S chief, also referred to as the ‘father of the Taliban’, Maulana Samiul Haq, chief cleric of Islamabad’s Red Mosque Maulana Abdul Aziz, Professor Muhammad Ibrahim of Jamaat-i-Islami and Mufti Kifayatullah, a former lawmaker of JUI-F.Imran Khan’s spokesperson, Shireen Mazari, said: “Our position is very clear. We have full confidence in the committee formed by the government.”Maulana Aziz, told AFP the committee was a ‘noble cause’. “I will continue to be part of the committee if the government shows sincerity in looking into (Taliban) demands - and of course the major demand is enforcement of Sharia law in the country,” he said.Maulana Samiul Haq and Professor Ibrahim have already confirmed they will be part of the Taliban’s team.To positively respond to the government’s committee, the banned TTP’s Shura held several sessions of talks in the last two days to decide names for its team, sources said. However, TTP will make a formal announcement on Sunday (today) after the final consultation session. Three days back, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a four-member committee from the government side. They are: Muhammad Amir, former intelligence agency operative, senior journalists Rahimullah Yousufzai and Irfan Siddiqui, and former ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand. Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will assist the committee and Nawaz Sharif will oversee it.According to TV reports, the TTP Shura has expressed its reservations over the inclusion of former ISI official Major (r) Muhammad Amir and former ambassador Rustam Shah Mohmand in the four-member government committee.Earlier in the day, media reports said Maulana Aziz had refused to take part in negotiations with the TTP. Former ISI official Amir had requested him to be part of the talks. Later he also denied ever contacting the Maulana.Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Ismail has said that the party members were not prepared mentally for the news that Imran Khan would be part of TTP’s team for negotiations. He said the confidence reposed by Taliban in the PTI chairman does not mean that Imran Khan was an accomplice of them. He said a meeting of PTI’s core committee had been summoned on Monday (tomorrow) and the decision would be made after consultation with the party members. According to another report, Imran Khan has asked TTP to nominate its own people to hold peace talks with the government team.Prime Minister Sharif set an open mandate for the negotiators to initiate talks with the TTP. He asked the militant group on Friday to follow suit and form its own negotiating team. He maintained that there was only one precondition for talks – no terrorist attacks during negotiations.Amidst growing speculation about a military offensive against the Taliban following a series of attacks on security forces, Sharif sprang a surprise when he announced the formation of the committee on January 29. TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid welcomed the offer of the peace talks soon after Sharif announced the committee in the National Assembly.Meanwhile, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) head Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Saturday called for steps to remove obstacles ahead of peace talks. Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, Maulana said tribal traditions also needed to be understood regarding talks.To a question about conflicting views of the committee’s members, the Maulana stressed that there shouldn’t be any difference of opinion on the serious process of peace talks. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had implemented the resolutions passed by the Parliament in this regard.

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