Pakistan government resumes peace dialogue with Taliban

Islamabad, March 5: The peace dialogue between the Pakistan government and the Pakistani Taliban resumed Wednesday after weeks of deadlock over terror attacks.

The talks were suspended last month after the Taliban executed 23 security personnel and bombed a police bus, killing 13 police officers in Karachi.

The government and Taliban dialogue committees met Wednesday, days after the Taliban declared a month-long ceasefire and the government also suspended air strikes on Taliban positions.

The government negotiators travelled to the northwestern town of Akora Khattak, some 100 km from Islamabad, and met the Taliban intermediaries at a religious school, Xinhua reported.

Both sides agreed that the first phase of the dialogue process has been completed successfully and the dialogue has now entered the second but crucial phase, leaders of the two committees said.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting, they agreed on the need for an effective and result-oriented strategy to push the dialogue process forward.

The two committees met at the residence of the head of the Taliban committee, Maulana Samiul Haq, and issued a joint statement which said the committees reviewed the situation in the backdrop of the ceasefire announced by the Taliban and the decision of the security agencies to stop retaliatory actions.

The government team presented its views on the new strategy and said issues had also been discussed with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“The government team said we have limited time at our disposal and a new line of action is needed to take the process to the logical conclusion,” the statement said.

The Taliban committee agreed that there was need for a strong strategy to reach the goal of peace and sought a meeting with the prime minister to exchange views on the new strategy.

Coordinator of the government team Irfan Siddiqui said the members of the Taliban committee would be facilitated to have a meeting with the prime minister.

He said the two committees had discussions on how to make the second phase of the dialogue result-oriented. He expressed the confidence that the strategy for the next phase would be evolved through bilateral consultations.

Irfan Siddiqui said the second phase involved decision making and it has to be sorted out who would take these decisions.

He also said the Taliban should openly and clearly condemn all acts of terrorism that occurred after the announcement of the ceasefire.

Maulana Samiul Haq said it was made known to the Taliban that they would have to condemn all acts of terrorism after the ceasefire and that is why they have disassociated from the terror attacks in Islamabad and Khyber Agency.

He said that some third force was involved in the latest incidents of terrorism which were aimed at undermining the dialogue process. The government and the Taliban should make efforts to expose these elements, he added.