ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) was informed on Wednesday that negotiations with the banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were being held in accordance with the Constitution, and any final decision as a result of the talks outcome will have ownership and approval of the Parliament.
“Any final decision as a result of talks with TTP will be taken in the light of the Constitution with the nod of the Parliament, guideline by the Parliament and with consensus between the civil and military leadership,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said after a meeting of the PCNS.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired the meeting, which was attended by Defence Minister Khwaja Asif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Naval Chief Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi, PAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Nadeem Ahmed Anjum, Corps Commander Peshawar and ex-ISI chief Lt-General Faiz Hameed, opposition leaders in the National Assembly and Senate, parliamentary leaders of political parties in two houses and other members of the committee.
Two ex-federal ministers and PTI leaders, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, members of the Parliamentary Committee, were also invited, but they did not turn up. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is also a member, could not attend the meeting as he was in Larkana. Sources said that PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha, however, did not receive an invitation for the meeting.
Director General ISI and corps commander Peshawar briefed the parliamentarians on progress in talks with the TTP. They told the meeting that the Afghan government was mediating and facilitating the talks between a team of Pakistan government and the TTP.
They apprised the parliamentarians of background of the talks with the TTP and progress made so far in talks in different phases. The meeting also apprised the parliamentarians about external and internal threats faced by the country and preventive measures taken about it.
The meeting was informed that a committee comprising civil and military leaders are part of the team of Pakistan and it was holding talks with the TTP, as per the Constitution. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan told a media briefing that during the meeting, it was decided that talks with the Taliban would move forward with the Parliament’s ownership and talks for peace were being executed under the Constitution. “It is the basic principle that talks with the TTP will be held under the Constitution,” he said.
He said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would brief an in-camera session of parliamentarians on talks taking place with the TTP. “The prime minister will take the Parliament into confidence on talks with TTP at an in-camera session,” he said.
The senior parliamentarians were informed that Pakistan has played very responsible and positive role for peace and stability in Afghanistan and would continue to perform the same constructive role in the neighbouring country. During the briefing, it was also maintained that nobody would be allowed to use Afghanistan’s soil for carrying out terror acts in Pakistan.
The meeting was also informed that the world community also recognised efforts and sacrifices of Pakistan in the war against terrorism. “It was due to unprecedented sacrifices given by the armed forces that the writ of the state, restoration of peace and routine life were restored in the country,” the statement by the PMO said.
The military leadership apprised the parliamentarians that at present there was no organised TTP network or structure left in the country. The statement said that the civil leadership expressed satisfaction over the strategy to tackle security issues, process of dialogue with TTP and other problems.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, in the first week of this month, had confirmed that talks were being held between the Pakistan government and TTP, with facilitation of the Afghan government.
After that, the senior PPP leadership, at the party’s meeting, demanded that the elected representatives should also be taken on board on talks and that the Parliament should take all the decisions.