PESHAWAR: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s “political shura” and negotiations committee met at an undisclosed location in North Waziristan Agency for the second consecutive day on Sunday and produced as many as fifteen demands to be put forward to the government’s negotiation committee.
Media reports said the Taliban shura had been meeting since Saturday under its deputy ameer, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani. Professor Ibrahim Khan and Maulana Yousuf Shah who are in Waziristan for a meeting with the Taliban shura are likely to convey these points to the committee formed by the government for mediation. The points are as follows: Stop drone attacks; introduce sharia law in courts; introduce Islamic system of education in both public and private educational institutions; free Pakistani and foreign Taliban held in jails; restoration and remuneration for damage to property during drone attacks; hand over control of tribal areas to local forces; withdrawal of army from tribal areas and close down check posts; all criminal allegations against the Taliban be dropped; prisoners from both sides be released; equal rights for all, poor and rich; families of drone attack victims be offered jobs; end interest-based system; stop supporting the US on the war on terror; replace the democratic system of governance with the Islamic system; end all relations with the US.
During the second round of talks, the political shura of the TTP formally presented these conditions to its representatives. The conditions include holding negotiations within limits of sharia, withdrawal of forces from conflict areas and release of captured Taliban accomplices from Pakistani prisons. The session also discussed the option of ceasefire along with other key issues. The Taliban-nominated committee is likely to put forward TTP’s demands after reaching Islamabad.
Earlier on Saturday, Taliban central shura met at an undisclosed location in North Waziristan under Taliban deputy ameer Sheikh Khalid Haqqani. Professor Ibrahim, Maulana Yousaf and Maulana Haseeb informed the TTP about the demands of the government committee, following which the TTP put forward its own set of demands. According to sources, negotiations between the committee members and Taliban could last two to three phases.
The members of the Taliban negotiations committee Professor Ibrahim and Maulana Samiul Haq’s special representative Maulana Haseeb had reached Miranshah on a helicopter provided by the government. They were there briefed by the political agent after which the three leaders proceeded ahead. Taliban’s political shura assured complete security to the committee members.
The session will continue for next two days and Maulana Samiul Haq is also expected to join it. Sources said that the Taliban had asked Maulana Samiul Haq to join the meeting in North Waziristan. The maulana could leave for North Waziristan today (Monday) to inform the Taliban leadership about the government’s demands. He has expressed his hope for success of the dialogue process and also appealed to all countrymen to pray for the success of the peace process.
The Taliban commanders and the members of their committee kept changing the venue of their meeting amid continued flights of unmanned US drones in the tribal area, a private TV channel said on Sunday. The Taliban shura and the committee members had to change the venue many times due to the drone flights.
The government’s peace efforts suffered a major setback on Friday when Maulana Abdul Aziz, a member of the Taliban mediation committee, sought assurance that sharia would be implemented in the country, as a condition for continuing to be part of the negotiations. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Friday the cleric stated, “Until an assurance on enforcement of Islamic law, I will neither meet Taliban nor join the dialogue process.” The Lal Masjid khateeb said that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) team of negotiators was constituted with the aim to hold negotiations, but the government’s demand that the negotiations be held within the limits of 1973 Constitution will delay the process.
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