ISLAMABAD: While the Pakistani government’s point-man for Taliban talks expects a ‘positive development’ in the peace initiative, at least one of government negotiators doesn’t have high hopes.
Major (retd) Muhammad Aamir, who was informally negotiating on government’s behalf, has already excused himself from the process. Yesterday, a member of the government’s four-member negotiating committee didn’t mince his words while voicing his pessimism.
“Frankly speaking, I do not see the possibility of success [the way things stand at this juncture],” he said on condition of anonymity.
He also disclosed that he did not know of any effort to salvage the stalled dialogue. “No one told me that [a second face-to-face] meeting with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is going to take place,” he said responding to a question.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan claimed at a news conference on Friday that the government had made a fresh move to revive the dormant process — and that direct talks with the TTP would take place soon.
“I’ve learnt this from media reports,” said the negotiator. However, he said, if the interior minister said that the government was going to revive the process, “then there must be something that I don?t know of”.
While the dialogue process has been on hold for six weeks, some officials have been in contact with the Taliban behind the scenes during that time, Nisar said, adding that, “the government wants to have formal talks and is striving to ensure that the next round is meaningful and result-oriented”.
Asked about the reasons for the deadlock in talks, the government negotiator said: “I think the Taliban infighting and the delay in release of non-combatant prisoners are the main factors behind the current impasse. The question about release of civilians from their [TTP] captivity would have come after the government had fulfilled the Taliban demands.”
“Professor Ajmal is perhaps in their captivity and the [sons of former governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer and former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani] are in the captivity of some other outfits. But we could have asked the Taliban for their release.”
He said if the talks failed the government could launch a military operation against the Taliban. “But even if this dialogue process breaks down here, it would have to be revived at some future stage because there is no other option for durable peace,” he added.