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Taliban form committee for talks with Pakistan government

Sunday, 2 February 2014 - 10:06pm IST | Agency: PTI

The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) today named a 10-member committee led by commander Qari Shakil to hold peace talks with the government.

The central 'shura' or council of the TTP constituted the committee, whose members include Punjabi Taliban chief Asmatullah Muavia, Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and Umar Khalid Khurasani, head of the militant group's chapter in Mohmand tribal region.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the government's focal person for the troubled peace process, described the announcement by the Taliban as a "positive development".

The government earlier named a four-member committee comprising senior journalists, a former ISI official and a former ambassador for the talks.

However, Khan said the dialogue may formally start some issues are explained by the Taliban.

In a statement, he said it was a matter of "great satisfaction that both sides have announced their negotiating teams after many years and this reflects that both sides want to make peace through negotiations and dialogue".

Khan said the government's committee was given the full mandate and authority to hold dialogue. However, the Taliban need to explain the mandate and powers of their committee and how far the militants would follow decisions made by it, he said.

The government would decide its way forward and make an announcement after consultations with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

He thanked Islamic clerics who raised their voices for peace and assured them matters would be taken forward under their guidance. He acknowledged the role of the clerics in evolving consensus for peace to end bloodshed going on for years.

Khan appealed to religious scholars from all schools of thoughts to unite and guide the government at a very critical stage for Pakistan. The proposed talks are a very complex process and the political and religious leadership have to play their role to make the process successful, he added. P

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