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Nisar to meet TTP, govt teams in joint session soon

24 February, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will hold a joint session with the members of the two committees for talks with the Taliban, in a day or two to deliberate upon how to resume the suspended dialogue process, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, the government is in constant touch with the top Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership about the negotiations with the TTP representatives and the retaliatory aerial bombardment of the militants' sanctuaries in the tribal areas.

Source told that the interior minister was quietly but continually in contact with PTI Chairman Imran Khan about this situation, and a broad consensus exists on the steps being taken by the government. "Chaudhry Nisar has been regularly talking to the PTI chairman and explaining the circumstances. The PTI is completely on board."

The government source refuted the impression that Imran Khan has gone abroad just to be away from the tricky situation when the aerial bombing continued, and said the PTI chief was flying back home tonight.

He was appreciative of the PTI's national policy on the issue.Senior PTI leader Javed Hashmi said the other day that his party would stand with the government and the State if a military operation was launched against the terrorists. There have been no condemnatory statements from any PTI leaders about the aerial strafing.

Another source said that indirect contacts of some top government leaders, especially the interior minister, with the Taliban committee did exist although the parleys were faced with a deadlock after the execution of 23 Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel and continuing aerial punishment by the government. At the same time, the talks with the TTP are on hold for the time being, he said.

The source spelt out points vis-à-vis the dialogue process and the hammering of the Taliban's hideouts by the jets and gunship helicopters. He said it was not possible for the government to continue talks while the TTP persisted with terrorist attacks.

"No terrorist strike will go un-responded," the source said. "What the government has been constrained to do is just retaliation and reaction to the TTP attacks on us."The second point the source elaborated was that the government and the Pakistan Army would try their utmost to end terrorism through peaceful means as they don't want to appear as being against the dialogue process.

He said that the government wishes the religious lobby to take the blame for the failure of the parleys if they collapse because on its part it was endeavouring sincerely for the success of the negotiations.

The third point dwelt on by the source was that as the talks have hit a bumpy road, the government was utilizing this time to create fissures and divisions within the terrorist groups. It is no more establishing contacts with some of them as it previously did.

The fourth point was that the military option would not completely solve the problem on a permanent basis. The source said although the Afghan Taliban vanished within no time due to the US bombing of Afghanistan after the 9/11 episode, the militants were fighting with the American forces for the next 10 years. As the Americans partially leave Afghanistan, the Taliban's presence remains quite significant there. There is also a lesson for Pakistan in it, he said.

The source said that the bombardment of the militants' hideouts would undoubtedly incapacitate the Taliban, but the militants would continue to exist in different parts of Pakistan. "There are no quick fixes; it will be a long drawn out battle as we will be confronted with indefinable targets."

He conceded that neither the Pakistani society was prepared for such a protracted war nor were the police and security forces geared up for it. "In this scenario, we have to play out the option of dialogue. At the end of the day, parleys will have to be held on our terms."

The source said although no high profile target was hit during the current aerial punishment, several terrorists have been killed. "This has forced the Taliban to hide in mouse holes."He said that when Britain and Sri Lanka were faced with the rebellions of the IRA and Tamils respectively, a remarkable political consensus existed in the two countries about the policy of their governments. It was only due to this exceptional agreement that London and Colombo finally succeeded in resolving the longstanding problems, he said.

"Sadly, in our case some political parties are showing a penchant to exploit the situation to their advantage and are busy in point scoring," the source said.He said the talks would resume only if the TTP announced to stop terrorist attacks and implemented such a ceasefire.

End.

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