ISLAMABAD: The government representatives for peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban held comprehensive consultations with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Zahirul Islam in Islamabad on Monday with the aim to fine-tune the talks agenda.
The face-to-face talks, according to well-placed sources, are expected to take place today (Tuesday) in the volatile tribal region of North Waziristan. Sources said that the main issues which members of the government’s nominated committee would raise with their counterparts as confidence-building measures include permanent or extension of the existing ceasefire besides the release of some high profile people kidnapped by Taliban.
Federal Secretary Habibullah Khattak led government negotiating committee that held consultations with Interior Minister and DG ISI included, Additional Secretary to Prime Minister, Fawad Hassan Fawad, former ambassador and PTI representative Rustam Shah Mohmand, and Arbab Arif. “If the weather remained clear on Tuesday (today) the negotiators of the government committee and Taliban coordination committee will be flown into the tribal area,” the sources said, hinting that talks will possibly take place in Mir Ali town.
“Though, Mir Ali has been chosen as a place for meeting but the venue can change at any moment considering the sensitivity of the matter,” it said. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was in Amsterdam ahead of the March 24-25 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, told media persons that the government team will held direct talks with the TTP in North Waziristan tomorrow. Talking about the mediation with the Taliban he said “The government direct talks with the Taliban leadership would take place tomorrow with all sincerity,” Sharif reportedly said.
Well-placed sources told Daily Times that Dr Ajmal Khan, Vice-Chancellor of the Islamia College University, Peshawar, who is in Taliban captivity for more than three years would possibly be released as a goodwill gesture by Taliban. Khan was kidnapped by Taliban on September 7, 2010, when he was on way to office from his home. Khan had said in his first video released the same year on October 17 that he was abducted for being a cousin of Asfandyar Wali Khan, the leader of Awami National Party.
The government, according to sources, has been convinced to a greater extent that TTP has no links with violent acts which occurred across the country after their declaration of a unilateral month-long ceasefire. Since the TTP announced ceasefire, sporadic violence surfaced in several cities, including Peshawar, Islamabad, Quetta and Karachi.
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