ISLAMABAD: JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday conveyed his main concerns to key federal ministers about the current peace talks between the Taliban and government representatives, sources privy to the meeting told Daily Times.
Quoting some unnamed diplomatic sources, the Maulana feared a military-op in the volatile North Waziristan and parts of some restive tribal areas after the April 5 Afghan presidential elections culminate. The two federal ministers, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, considered key elements of Prime Minister’s kitchen cabinet, called on Maulana Fazlur Rehman at his Islamabad residence amidst rumors that the JUI-F felt frustrated over the non allocation of portfolios to two of its ministers inducted into the cabinet a few weeks back. But a close confidant of Maulana opined that at no point their party thought over ditching the government coalition over the issue of portfolios as they remained focused on the greater national issue of peace talks with Pakistani Taliban.
Sources in the JUI-F, however, believe the way Fazlur Rehman’s arch rival Maulana Sami ul Haq has occupied the centre stage at peace talks with Taliban, has sent ripples through the party’s ranks. During the meeting, the Maulana felt that the main stakeholders — representatives of about 3.5 million tribesmen living in the seven tribal regions—have been ignored in the dialogue process, confided a close confidant of the Maulana.
The Maulana said that while pursuing the talks with the bad Taliban, the government should also have taken on board the good Taliban, like, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and slain Mullah Nazir’s groups. Though, endorsing his stated position that negotiations with the militants through a tribal jirga system was a better option, the Maulana said that by directly involving the state, the government has unduly elevated the stature of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a conglomerate of several militant outfits operating in the tribal areas as well as beyond the Durand Line in Afghanistan.
While promising his party’s support for current peace talks with the Taliban, he identified several ambiguities in the dialogue process. “By directly involving government representatives in the talks with Taliban, you have elevated the position of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and brought them at par with the state,” the Maulana was quoted by a top JUI-F member as saying.
Dar and Rashid, the most trusted nominees of PM Nawaz Sharif, met the Maulana in a bid to remove his apprehensions about the much delayed allotment of portfolios of federal minster and minister of state to JUI-F. They assured the Maulana that a notification in this regard would be issued soon. The JUI-F’s nominee for the slot of federal minister is Akram Khan Durrani, a former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, while for the position of minister of state (MoS), it had nominated Abdul Gahfoor Haideri. Haideri will possibly get the slot of MoS for inter provincial coordination.
The Maulana also raised the issue of madrassa reforms complaining that the government was totally ignoring the religious seminary education system, and had not allocated any mentionable amount for this purpose as was earlier promised. “We are ready to introduce modern science subjects in the curriculum, but the government should show its resolve on the issue,” he told the two ministers, who in turn promised to convey his sentiments to the prime minister for necessary steps. They assured to get back to him on the issue of madrassa reforms soon after getting the necessary instructions, it was learnt.
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