Sharif wants early start to Taliban talks

Islamabad, Jan 31: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Friday met members of the committee formed to hold talks with the Taliban and instructed them to initiate peace talks immediately, a media report said.

The four-member committee, which includes journalist Rahimullah Yousafzai, former ambassador and expert on Afghanistan affairs Rustam Shah Mohmand, former ISI official Amir Shah and Irfan Siddiqui, columnist and special assistant to the prime minister on national affairs, was formed Wednesday.

The panel met Sharif to discuss the dialogue strategy, Geo News quoted sources as saying. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar was also present at the meeting.

The prime minister said he wanted to make efforts to restore peace and directed the interior minister to keep him informed about the progress of the team.

Sharif also asked the panel to open communication channels with the factions that are ready to take part in the dialogue process.

The report, quoting informed sources, said it was decided in the meeting that the committee should be able to exercise autonomy during talks with the Taliban.

IANS