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Talks between Pakistan, Taliban fail to take off

world Updated: Feb 05, 2014 07:32 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times

The much-anticipated peace talks between Pakistan government-appointed negotiators and Pakistani Taliban panel failed to take off on Tuesday.

The four-member government committee, which was set up by prime minister Nawaz Sharif refused to meet the Taliban-named intermediaries on grounds that the TTP team did not have a clear agenda for the meeting.

The government representatives asked for explanation of certain unidentified issues before the dialogue process formally began.

In response, the TTP side said that the government committee for peace negotiations should have come to the meeting even if it was for two minutes.

The confusion and delay marred the day one of the peace talks as both sides blamed the other for not starting the talks and it took the personal intervention of PM Sharif to get things back on track.

By the end of the day there was hope of a resumption of the process when both sides expressing their desire to move ahead, despite obstacles being placed in their way. The Pakistan government is under pressure from the military to abandon talks and move ahead with a military operation. Already there are reports of bombings and the heavy movements of troops in the Waziristan area in preparation of a massive military operation.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), however, has said that it is interested in talks. Its spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, told local TV channels that the TTP was interested in a “sincere dialogue that was not guided by America or other outside forces.”

On Tuesday evening, after some confusion over whether talks would begin or not, Maulana Sami-ul Haq, the leader of his faction of the Jamiat Ulema Islam party told the media in Islamabad that he was aware of many quarters being opposed to the talks but that he would do all in his power to make them successful.

Sami-ul Haq and two other religious figures —one the Imam of the Lal Masjid and another from the Jamaat-e-Islami party, agreed to be intermediaries for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.