ISLAMABAD: A two-member Taliban committee, consisting of Professor Muhammad Ibrahim and committee coordinator Yousuf Shah, has left for North Waziristan to convey viewpoint the government’s committee to the Taliban leadership.
According to reports, the Interior Ministry provided two helicopters for the visit of Taliban’s nominated committee members to Waziristan.
“I can confirm that the government has provided a helicopter in Peshawar to Professor Muhammad Ibrahim Khan and Maulana Yousuf Shah to fly to North Waziristan to meet the TTP’s top leadership,” a top government official, requesting not to be named, told a private TV channel.
“They have already been sent on their way to North Waziristan,” he said.
The two members would meet the TTP leadership at an undisclosed location in the tribal areas and would apprise it of the first round of talks with government negotiators, the channel quoted a source as saying.
Yousuf Shah is a spokesman for Maulana Samiul Haq, the coordinator of the TTP committee.
Earlier, Yousuf Shah said that the committee had contacted the Taliban leadership and possibly it could not go to Waziristan for talks. He said that the government had assured them of providing a helicopter to go to Waziristan but now it was not needed as the talks could be held at any nearest place.
He had also said that things would be clear in two or three days.
“Maulana Abdul Aziz is a member of the Taliban committee and will remain so.”
The two committee members would apprise the Taliban leadership about their first meeting with the government’s committee.
Negotiators from both sides formally met on Thursday for the first round of peace talks aimed at ending the militants’ bloody seven-year insurgency.
The two sides laid down a roadmap in form of demands from both sides for future deliberation, with the government insisting that any negotiations be held within the framework of the constitution of Pakistan.
The peace process was dealt a blow on Friday when a member of the three-man TTP committee – chief cleric of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz – rejected the condition of holding talks under the constitution.
Aziz said the Taliban do not recognise the prevailing constitution and that it should be replaced by the teachings of the holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
The firebrand cleric said he would only be part of further negotiations if a clause is included about the imposition of Islamic law in the country.
Asked about Aziz’s statement, the government official told the TV channel that the government had only come to know of this through the media and that no formal message regarding Aziz’s demand have yet been communicated to them by the TTP negotiators.
The government committee is headed by Irfan Sidduqi, who is also the prime minister’s special assistant on national affairs.
Aziz’s move threatened to further undermine the talks – the government side had already voiced doubts about the composition and authority of the TTP’s representatives.
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