• Pakistan-Taliban dialogue process kicks off

      August 31, 2013
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      ISLAMABAD: The much-awaited dialogue process has started between Pakistan and Taliban.The Taliban, while confirming the initial contacts between them and the Government of Pakistan, said that the talks encompassing a range of issues, including prevention of sectarian violence and snapping of ties with al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), were held.

      A senior government official on condition of anonymity told BBC that benefit in terms of the dialogue had started trickling down in advance. The government had already completed much homework on this count. The official, however, declined to provide more details that talks had started passing on what sort of benefit. The killing of the second top leader of the banned TTP, Maulvi Wali-ur-Rehman, in a US drone strike had caused harm to the dialogue process and its negative impact had now been dispelled. The talks-specific contacts had been restored again after many endeavours.

      A leading Taliban leader, on the condition of not being named, told BBC that the elementary talks took place on a good number of issues, including prevention of sectarian attacks in Pakistan and breaking relations with outfits like al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ).

      This is the first time that the PML-N-led government had confirmed its contacts with the Taliban.Observers are of the opinion that it appears from “benefit accrued” that the government has succeeded in persuading Taliban for suspending their activities to some extent. But it seems that the contacts are in an elementary stage because the government is evolving a comprehensive national policy on counter-terrorism.

      Officials said that consultation was continuing with all the major parties with regard to this policy and it would be given a final shape and announced within a few weeks.

      The government sources said a dialogue would be their first option. Western diplomats in Islamabad say Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani agree over it that talks can be held if the militants agree on respecting the sovereignty of Pakistani state, law and Constitution and ceasefire.

      One diplomat said, “This is red line the violation of which is not acceptable to both the sides. Cracks had already appeared in Tehreek-e-Taliban before the offer for talks was extended to them.”

      The chief of Punjabi Taliban Asmat Ullah Muawia had welcomed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s offer for talks on August 22, but the central TTP leadership was not happy over it. Janood-e-Hifsa is not only an ally of the TTP which has shown a soft corner for the government but Maulvi Nazir-led network in South Waziristan, Gul Bahadar-led network in North Waziristan and Haqqani network are such groups which are pursuing different policies with regard to Pakistan.

      It may be recalled that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said in his address to the nation following assumption of office that the government had more than 100 options to deal with the menace of terrorism. But prudence demanded that such an avenue be adopted that no more loss of innocent lives took place.

      Citing extremism, the PM had further said, “I want end to game of blood and fire as soon as possible. No matter this end is achieved on negotiating table through reconciliation or use of full state force. All the institutions of the country are united on this national cause without any split or division,” he added.

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