On a day when six Frontier Corps soldiers were killed in a bomb blast near Hangu, the government-appointed committee and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) nominees met at Akora Khattak near Peshawar to take the peace dialogue forward.
On Tuesday Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had given the go ahead for talks to continue after the government-appointed committee briefed him on the state of affairs. Security officials said the six soldiers were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast by terrorists.
The device was planted at a roadside on the route of the security forces convoy in the Warmagai area.
The government appointed committee had said that terror attacks could come in the way of talks but met the TTP nominees to chalk out a future course of action. Earlier, last week, the government and the TTP had called for a ceasefire to create a conducive atmosphere for the dialogue.
Akora Khattak is the seat of Maulana Samiul Haq of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Samiul Haq (JUI-S), a TTP committee member and both the committees reviewed the situation and said it was time to enter a more decisive phase of the talks. The talks had entered a crucial phase now, according to the Maulana. The TTP committee is likely to have a meeting with Mr. Sharif as desired by it and Maulana Samiul Haq reportedly said that the TTP would have to ensure that there are no acts of terror. Pointing to the continuing attacks he said that some other forces were at work to sabotage the talks.
The TTP had denied it was responsible for Monday's attack on the district and sessions court in Islamabad which killed 11 persons including an additional sessions judge and some lawyers. A little known group Ahrar-ul-Hind had later claimed it was behind the gun and bomb attack.
Peace talks had hit a roadblock after the execution of 23 Frontier Corps men by the Mohmand Agency faction of the TTP and an earlier bombing of policemen in Karachi. However, the dialogue process is stuttering forward against all odds at the behest of Mr. Sharif despite widespread criticism and calls for a decisive military operation.
Rustom Shah Mohmand, a member of the government appointed committee, told The Hindu on the phone, that the meeting was satisfactory and the talks were entering a new phase. "We will now have to confront and discuss substantive issues and it's time to induct people from the government who can take decisions."
He said the talks so far had achieved some objectives. The TTP was willing to negotiate within the ambit of the Constitution, it was not insisting on the enforcement of the sharia and it had called a ceasefire to which the government too had responded. These were positive achievements and the committee feels the government would have to appoint a new group of people from the army, ministry of interior and other agencies which can take the dialogue process forward.