After a two- hour meeting between the government appointed committee for peace talks and the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) nominees on Saturday, a venue was decided for direct talks. Maulana Samiul Haq, member of the TTP committee told the media later that the venue would not be disclosed but since both sides had agreed on it talks would begin in a few days directly with the TTP shura.
The TTP had earlier demanded the creation of a peace zone in the tribal areas so that talks could be held without the fear of being targeted which more or less seems to be acceptable to the government.
He did not confirm if the talks would be held in Bannu which was one the venues under discussion. The TTP had earlier given a list of non-combatants mostly women and children which they wanted released.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who is the focal person for the talks was in attendance and he had said earlier that the direct negotiation with the TTP would begin soon. Both the government and the TTP had called for a ceasefire earlier this month, though terror attacks have not stopped, notably the suicide strike on the Islamabad district and sessions court on March 3. While the TTP has said it was not responsible, another group called the Ahrar ul Hind has claimed it was behind the attacks.
The government has appointed a new committee with three bureaucrats, only retaining Rustom Shah Mohmand, former ambassador to Kabul, from its first committee. The question of releasing prisoners, compensation and rehabilitation and foreign militants in the tribal areas are the key points of negotiation. It remains to be seen if the TTP which has agreed to talk within the framework of the Constitution and has called
for a ceasefire can keep all its factions together. In the past peace deals have been signed but fallen apart, finally resulting in military operations.
Keywords: Pak govt-TTP talks