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March 2, 2014

Secret diplomacy by Nawaz, Nisar led to ceasefire

World

WD
Web Desk
March 2, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan did it for Pakistan but secretly. In the government only two men — Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and the interior minister — knew precisely what was going on in the background to get the announcement of a ceasefire from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
On Friday night Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told me that the ‘great news’ of a ceasefire from the TTP would “Insha’Allah” be announced on Saturday.
Apparently, the dialogue process had been derailed recently after the Mohmand Agency faction of the Taliban owned up to the killing of 23 FC men, but the peace efforts continued behind the scenes under the supervision of the interior minister.
On the last two occasions, it was proved that internal and external elements opposed to the peace process had succeeded in derailing the peace process.
First, the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud and second the calculated announcement of the killing of FC men on the eve of a possible announcement of the ceasefire by the TTP had derailed the peace process.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had indicated in one of his statements that every time there was a chance of a breakthrough, some untoward incident occurred and derailed the whole process.
The prime minister had learned that such a dialogue process could not proceed in public and through the media. Sharif continued to bet on his key lieutenant Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who this time decided to keep things away from the media glare.
Through his sources and some sincere mediators, including a few belonging to both the committees (the government and Taliban committees), Nisar kept on pursuing the dialogue process clandestinely.
The behind-the-scenes role of the Taliban committee led by Maulana Samiul Haq was very constructive and helpful to get the ceasefire announced by the TTP.
On different occasions, the interior minister had been sharing some selected information with the PTI chief Imran Khan

but on the condition of maintaining secrecy.
Chaudhry Nisar precisely knew what was going on in the TTP ranks. He knew that most of TTP groups, including the most influential ones of Waziristan, were ready to announce a ceasefire.
While most of the people including those in parliament and even in the government were foreseeing the expected launch of a full-fledged military operation in North Waziristan, Nisar was pursuing hard to get the ceasefire announced from the TTP because he knew the possible fallout of the operation.
Recently, the interior minister indicated to this correspondent that he was informally meeting the two committees again with the condition that nothing should be revealed to the media.
So the two committees, which were publicly not in contact with each other since the announcement of the 23 FC men’s killing, met Chaudhry Nisar.
Nisar and the members of the two committees resolved to get the impossible done. Some government committee members and some Taliban committee members had their contacts with the TTP. Their sincerity to make the peace process a succeed ultimately paid off.
Through the Taliban committee members, the TTP was assured that neither the government nor the security forces were involved in the extra-judicial killings of the Taliban.
They were also conveyed that the security forces and agencies had categorically denied having non-combatant men, women and children in their custody.
The sincerity and seriousness of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan to get the issue of terrorism and extremism resolved through the dialogue process was already conveyed to the TTP through different independent sources including highly respected religious scholars.
Chaudhry Nisar and the members of the two committees have done a remarkable job to get the one-month ceasefire.
Now is the time for the real parties — the government, the army and the TTP — to sit and talk face to face to further the peace process. This would only be possible if the media is kept out.