Government, Taliban teams move one step forward

* Govt negotiators say peace talks should be held within ambit of constitution; violent attacks be stopped; scope of talks be limited to militancy-hit areas; Taliban committee should explain its mandate * Taliban team demands meeting with PM, COAS, ISI DG
Government, Taliban teams move one step forward

ISLAMABAD: The government and Taliban committees, in their first meeting on Thursday, expressed the resolve to continue dialogue and vowed that the violent acts of the recent past would not hamper the peace process.
Addressing a joint press conference after a three-hour-long meeting at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House, Irfan Siddiqui and Maulana Samiul Haq said the committees agreed that both sides should stop giving statements against each other and the process of talks should not be long, as the nation is hoping for good news. 

THE government-nominated committee consists of Irfan Siddiqui, Rahimullah Yousafzai, Rustam Shah Mohmand and Major (r) Amir, while Maulana Samiul Haq, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Prof Ibrahim are members of the committee announced by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
During the talks, the government committee said it should be conveyed to the Taliban that peace talks should be held within the ambit of the constitution and there should be end to the violent attacks in the country. It said that the talks should be held only on the militancy-hit areas and these should not be about the whole country. It also asked the Taliban committee about its authority in the presence of the nine-member monitoring committee of the Taliban.
The committee also said that there should be no activity which is against peace and security and harmful to the talks process. Reading points of a joint press release, Maulana Samiul Haq said the committees condemned the violent attacks that happened in recent days. The government committee referred to the resolve of the prime minister that he sincerely and honestly wanted talks to be successful for peace in the country. Irfan Siddiqui said they were holding talks with an open mind and heart and were hopeful that they would produce good results as the nation was praying and hoping for success of the peace process.
In reply, Samiul Haq said they welcomed the steps taken for establishing peace. He said, “We always made efforts for an end to all sort of bloodshed so that Pakistan becomes a peaceful country according to the Islamic teachings.” The Taliban committee demanded a meeting with the prime minister and the chief of army staff. It said that the government’s demands and agenda would be conveyed to the leadership of the Taliban. Samiul Haq said the talks were held in a congenial atmosphere.
He said that their three-member committee would meet with the nine-member committee of Taliban in South Waziristan. Both sides, he said, were positive about the success of the talks and the meeting was according to the expectations and aspirations of the nation. Irfan Siddiqui thanked the Taliban committee for holding the meeting and said it seemed that not two but only one committee was holding talks. “We are happy that the meeting was held according to our wishes and expectations and in an atmosphere of conciliation and goodwill.” The aim of the meeting was to rid the country of its problems and make it peaceful, Irfan said, adding, “There was not even a single moment of tension and the meeting was useful and fruitful. The meeting clearly set the objectives for the future.” 

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