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Pak PM and army chief not to meet with Taliban team

By Raza Ruman
Islamabad, Feb 7 (Pak Destiny) Neither the army nor the government is ready to entertain the request of Taliban committee to arrange its members meeting with the chief of army staff Gen Raheel Sharif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“There can be no meeting between the representatives of terrorists and the army chief,” the sources said.
“PM Sharif will also avoid entering into another controversy. He will prefer asking his team to satisfy the Taliban committee and make an excuse on his behalf,” the sources said.
Earlier, negotiators for the Pakistani government and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) met Thursday for a first round of peace talks aimed at ending the militants’ bloody seven-year insurgency.
The two sides gathered at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad for a preliminary meeting to chart a “roadmap” for future discussions, amid deep scepticism over whether dialogue can yield a lasting peace deal.
Following the meeting which lasted almost four hours, Maulana Samiul Haq read out a joint statement to the media.
According to the press release, the two sides met under a cordial environment.
The government committee demanded that talks be held within the framework of the constitution, and that the scope of the peace talks be limited to only the insurgency-affected areas of Pakistan.
The government committee also said that all activities which may affect peace efforts should immediately be stopped, and that talks should be smoothly concluded in a short timeframe.
Referring to the 10-member Taliban monitoring committee, the government negotiators sought clarification regarding scope and authority of both TTP teams.
On the other hand, the Pakistani Taliban committee urged the government to clarify the mandate and level of authority of its four member committee, and its ability to implement a peace pact.
The Taliban team demanded that their meetings be held with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the army chief and the DG ISI.
The government’s negotiators include Irfan Siddiqui, special assistant to the prime minister and coordinator of the committee, Rustam Shah Mohmand, a former Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan, Peshawar-based journalist Rahimullah Yousufzai and retired Major Amir Khan.
Negotiators from the TTP’s side include Maulana Samiul Haq, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Professor Mohammad Ibrahim. – Pak Destiny

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