The Pakistan government is likely to set up a new negotiating team that will include army representatives to make the "second phase" of peace talks with the Taliban more productive and result-oriented.
Government negotiators today travelled to Akora Khattak in the country's restive northwest to work out the modalities for the "second-phase" of the peace talks. During the meeting, the proposal to set up a bigger and more powerful negotiating team was discussed. The Taliban committee expressed their agreement with the proposals put forward in the meeting. The proposals included the inclusion of representatives of the federal government, army and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in the committee. The inclusion of Taliban shura members in the Taliban committee was also been recommended.
Sources hinted that such a proposal is being worked on.
Asked if the new peace committee will include representatives of the army and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, a top official in the federal government said "may be", without giving further details.
Government committee coordinator Irfan Siddiqui, in a conference aired live on TV, said the dialogue process had entered a new phase. "We have entered the second phase and discussed moving the dialogue process further. The first round was about making contacts, working on the framework for the dialogue process. We have finished that," Siddiqui said. "Now we are into decision making round, our Committee felt and had informed the Prime Minister that in this new phase, to make the dialogue more productive, more result oriented, we may have to make some changes," he said.
Siddiqui said the Taliban committee had expressed the desire to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and that they will be facilitated.
Taliban committee member Maulana Samiul Haq welcomed the "ceasefire" announced by the government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). "The government and Taliban need to stop blaming each other and identify the enemy," Haq said. He said the committees had opened the door for dialogue and it was no up to the stakeholders to make a decision.
Reacting to the reports of getting the army involved in the peace talks, opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah said inclusion of any army officer in the government committee to hold talks with the Taliban will be dangerous.
Shah said that army was meant to obey government's order and armed forces' involvement in peace talks with terrorists would produce very dangerous results. He said a retired army man could be included in the committee if it was as important.