After the shocking claim made by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Mohmand Agency faction on Sunday that it had killed 23 Frontier Corps men in its custody, the four-member government-appointed committee decided not to meet the Taliban nominees on Monday as scheduled.
In a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office, Irfan Siddiqui, who is coordinator of the government-appointed members, said that there was no point in meeting the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)-nominated committee, till discussions were held with the government on this matter. Prof Mohammed Ibrahim of the TTP committee reportedly regretted the meeting not taking place and said that the matter should have been discussed.
On Sunday night, the chief of the Mohmand faction Omar Khalid Khorasani issued a statement where he claimed the killings of 23 men held in custody since 2010 from a check post in Shongari. The letter did not specify when the killings took place. It also asked for the release of the Taliban prisoners.
Rustom Shah Mohmand, on the government side, said that if the Taliban was killing people in its custody as it has claimed, then talks would be difficult. The committee wanted a clarification on whether the TTP endorsed the statement of one its factions. The Mohmand's chief's claim is vague and the umbrella TTP group has to come out with a response on this, he said. Depending on that the future strategy will be worked out.
He also said that even a call for ceasefire from the TTP will have to be scrutinised carefully. There were rumours on Sunday that the TTP shura had met and a ceasefire call would be forthcoming. Instead all that came out was the Mohmand chief's statement.
For the third time after the talks were initiated, the TTP or its faction has claimed responsibility for its actions. It was behind the bomb blast targeting a police bus in Karachi in which 13 people died.
The Taliban's Peshawar chief had claimed the attacks on Shias in a hotel in Peshawar and said that Mast Gul of the Hizbul Mujaheedin was in charge of that attack.
Meanwhile, the killing of the 23 security forces personnel has drawn widespread condemnation and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a statement said it was a heinous act and would pose hurdles to the peace talks.
Security officials said that the killing of 13 policemen in Karachi and Frontier Corps men in captivity were blatant acts of terror and highly condemnable and provocative. The official said the TTP has accused the security forces of killing its men in custody, which was a baseless allegation and mere propaganda to justify dastardly acts of terror.