Govt-Taliban dialogue process kicks off
31 August, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The much-awaited dialogue process has started between Pakistan and the Taliban.
Taliban, while confirming the initial contacts between them and the government of Pakistan, said on Friday that the talks encompassing a range of issues including prevention of sectarian violence and snapping ties with al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were held.
A senior government official on the condition of anonymity said that benefit in terms of these dialogues has started trickling down in advance. The government had already completed much homework on this count.
This is the first time that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government had confirmed its contacts with the Taliban. Punjabi Taliban (Janood-e-Hifsa) Chief Asmatullah Muawiya had welcomed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's offer for talks on August 22, but central leadership of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was not happy over it.
Janood-e-Hifsa is not the only ally of TTP, which has shown a soft corner to the government but Moulvi Nazir-led network in South Waziristan, Gul Bahadar-led network in North Waziristan and Haqqani network are such groups, which are pursuing different policies with regard to Pakistan from TTP. But it seems that not all the TTP is as enthusiastic as Muawiya is.
In a carefully worded statement the next day, the TTP said that although Muawiya 'is respectable for us', he now has no formal relationship with the group and the leadership council would 'soon' select a new head of its Punjab chapter.
In a terse rejoinder just hours afterwards, Muawiya told the Associated Press that the TTP had 'no capacity' to expel him because the Punjabi Taliban was a separate group with its own mechanism to decide on the leadership and other matters.