Taliban peace talks ‘stuck in blind alley’

* Nisar says army not an obstacle but dialogue cannot move forward in prevalent atmosphere of conflict * Even supporters of negotiations are now playing ‘double game’

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said on Friday that the dialogue process with the Taliban could not move ahead in an intensive atmosphere and amid contradictory statements.
Nisar asserted that the Pakistan Army was not an obstacle in the negotiation process, but talks could not proceed in the prevalent atmosphere of conflict. The minister said he would present a report to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his return from London, stating that in view of the present situation, and in an atmosphere of strain, the dialogue process could not be taken forward. “At the start, there were people who were opposed to the dialogue process and we listened to them and tolerated them as it is part of democracy,” he said, adding that however, now even those people who were supporters of dialogue are showing contradiction in their stance.
On the issue of release of non-combatant Taliban prisoners, he said they were released in consultation with the military authorities. Nisar said there had never been any deadlock in the peace process with the TTP since the process started. The interior minister said that it was decided during the last meeting with the Taliban committee that the next meeting should be decisive and that both sides’ agenda and demands should be put on the negotiation table. 
Nisar expressed optimism about development in talks with the Taliban and said a meeting would be held soon to review the dialogue process. “Pakistan will become peaceful because of the efforts made by the incumbent government,” he added. Chaudhry Nisar Ali said the government was sincere in the dialogue process and there was no delay on its part. He said that positive progress had been made in the ongoing talks with the Taliban. “Date for the next meeting was to be fixed by the other side (Taliban). However, there is no hitch from the government or military side,” he informed. 
He denied any deadlock in the dialogue with Taliban. He said soon there would be key developments in negotiations between Taliban and government committees, saying that the release of non-combatants would make the talks purposeful and yield more results. Nisar said the safeguards and objections of the Taliban and government can only be addressed on the dialogue table. He added that some forces want to sabotage the dialogue process through terrorist activities. 
The minister said the dialogue process was a sensitive and complex issue but every day contradictory statements were being made about it. “Those who were supposed to assist in the dialogue process are making one statement in indoor meeting and saying something else at the public meetings,” he stated. Nisar said after the announcement of a ceasefire for the first time, there had been decrease in violence. He said there was a time when five to six bomb explosions were taking place every day, but now many days pass without a bomb blast. 
Nisar said dialogue process was the only way to handle these matters and there had been positive progress which led to reduction in violence. Because of the whole process, contacts have been established with the Taliban, and the government came to know about their thinking, views and demands, he claimed. He said nobody initiated dialogue in the last 12 years. The minister said he wanted the next meeting of the Taliban-government committees to be decisive, saying both sides should put their complete agendas on the table.

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