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November 9, 2013

A talk with three mystery negotiators

November 9, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The three-member team of independent negotiators, which was to fly to Miranshah a day after Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by the US drone to sabotage the dialogue process, was confident that 80 percent of the militant groups would enter into a dialogue.
They even had the information that Hakimullah was more than willing to get into the talks process and had even hinted that he would even consider personally representing the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the talks, which were to be held in Bannu.
This correspondent had the opportunity to meet the three members of the team, whose names are not being disclosed, a few days before they were scheduled to fly to Miranshah.A copy of the government letter was even shown to The News, which they were supposed to carry with them to formally get the two sides to the table.
The team members had confided to this correspondent how they had worked hard to first assess the intentions and sincerity of the two sides and then pave the way for the initiation of the dialogue process.
While their contacts in North Waziristan and some other parts of the tribal areas were engaged with different groups of the militants, including the TTP, the three-member team had hours long meeting with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and a top military commander.
In their meeting with the interior minister, these negotiators had expressed their apprehensions about the sincerity of the government in general and military in particular.
They had referred to the incidents of Lal Masjid and the Swat Operation but they were assured by the interior minister that the government was sincere and wanted the resolution of the issue through peaceful means.
The three-member team was fully satisfied with the assurances of the minister and his body language. The military commander, a serving lieutenant general accompanying the interior minister, had also assured the team of Pakistan Army and ISI’s complete support to the

dialogue process.
Such was the satisfaction level of the team that after their meeting with the government they had contacted their key Ulema leaders and told them that they trusted the interior minister and found him true to pursuing the dialogue process.
The team members had expressed the same feelings in their meeting with this correspondent. When asked about the possible response of the militant groups and TTP, they were upbeat and sure that 80 percent of the militant groups would back the dialogue process.
One of the team members was even contacted by The News a few hours before Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by the US drone. The purpose of this contact was to know if the team’s next morning departure was confirmed. The team member said that everything was ready and they were leaving for Miranshah the next morning.
But to their frustration, on the eve of their visit to Miranshah to formalise the contact between the two sides and kick start the dialogue process, the Americans sabotaged the whole process by killing Hakimullah, who was ready to talk with the government.
The same evening after the media broke the story of Hakimullah’s killing, this correspondent again spoke to one of the three team members, who had no doubt that this was all done by Washington with the intention to derail the peace process and fuel terrorism.

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