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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Talks with TTP to be held within ambit of Constitution: Rana Sanaullah

Military top brass reassures any deal made with the terrorist group would be subject to parliamentary approval.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday said that negotiations with the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) would be held under the Constitution of Pakistan.

He was addressing a press conference alongside Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb following an in-camera meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) – the first meeting between the national political leadership and the military –presided by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“It has been decided that an in-camera parliament session will be summoned and leader of the house, the prime minister, will take the house on board. The members will be apprised about the briefing. Under the guidance and ownership of the parliament, the ongoing talks will be taken forward,” Sanaullah said.

“It has been decided in principle that the negotiations would be held under the Constitution. This is the basic principle. Peace will be attained under the law and under the Constitution,” the minister stated.

Dawn reported that “the military has reassured the political leadership that no extra-constitutional concessions would be given to the banned TTP in the ongoing dialogue and any deal made with the terrorist group would be subject to parliamentary approval.”

The military leadership said, “the TTP had been told that reversal of tribal areas merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was non-negotiable though they indicated that other demands were under discussion.”

Read more: Talks between the Government of Pakistan and the TTP

In a statement issued after the meeting, the PM Office stated: “The decision will be made in the light of the Constitution of Pakistan with the approval of the parliament, the guidance provided for the future and the resulting consensus.”

“The political leadership expressed satisfaction over the strategy and progress made in dealing with the issue.”

The meeting was arranged after protests by the major partner in the ruling coalition, PPP, for not being taken on board about the talks.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), which had resigned from the National Assembly but has representation in the Senate, was not invited to the meeting, along with PTI’s leader and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Faiz Hamid – who has spearheaded the TTP talks – and ISI Director General Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum briefed the meeting participants.

Negotiations with the TTP began in October 2021, resulting in an agreement on a one-month ceasefire. But in December, the terrorist group said the Pakistani authorities were not fulfilling their commitments, pulled out of the talks, and refused to extend the ceasefire.

Emboldened by the Taliban’s support and patronage, “TTP this year carried out nearly 46 attacks, mostly against security forces, in which 79 people were martyred,” in order to pressure Pakistan’s armed forces.

In April, the negotiations were secretly revived, leading to the TTP announcing a ceasefire on the occasion of Eidul Fitr. The ceasefire kept on extending. Currently, a three-month cessation of hostilities is being observed.

During the talks, “Pakistani authorities are asking for dissolution of the terrorist organisation, laying of arms, and respect for the Constitution, whereas the TTP is seeking withdrawal of security forces from the erstwhile tribal areas, annulment of the 2018 merger of tribal agencies with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, release of its fighters, and compensation for the damages it suffered. The group has, however, softened its demand for imposition of Shariah to some extent.”