Govt, TTP agree to ex­tend truce

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

The com­mit­tees rep­re­sent­ing the govern­ment and the Tal­iban agreed to ex­tend the cease­fire and take mea­sures to speed up the di­a­logue process.

At a joint meet­ing, presided over by In­te­rior Min­is­ter Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and at­tended by mem­bers of the com­mit­tees of the govern­ment and the out­lawed Tehreek-i-Tal­iban Pak­istan, the two par­ties agreed to carry for­ward the peace process. Talk­ing to re­porters af­ter the meet­ing, the head of the TTP com­mit­tee, Maulana Samiul Haq, con­firmed that the cease­fire would con­tinue be­yond March 31, the date set by them. But he did not say whether the cease­fire was still "tem­po­rary" or "per­ma­nent".

He said the in­te­rior min­is­ter had sought three days to spec­ify the 'prac­ti­cal steps' to be taken by the govern­ment. Ac­cord­ing to sources, the al­lu­sion was to re­lease of non-com­bat­ants be­long­ing to the TTP.

The sources said the min­is­ter was likely to con­vene an­other meet­ing of the two com­mit­tees in a few days and present views of the govern­ment and other stake­hold­ers. Then the Tal­iban com­mit­tee would meet the TTP shura and the venue and time for an­other round of di­rect talks would be de­cided.

Maulana Haq said the agenda for the next round of talks would be fi­nalised soon. He was op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture of talks and said people should sup­port ef­forts for restora­tion of peace. Doubts about the fate of the talks must not be cre­ated, he said, adding that there was no rea­son for de­spon­dency.

The sources said the re­lease of hun­dreds of pris­on­ers, in­clud­ing some high-pro­file people, and set­ting up of a "peace zone" to al­low free move­ment of the Tal­iban were the main de­mands of the TTP. They said the govern­ment was un­likely to ac­cept the de­mand for es­tab­lish­ment of a peace zone be­cause it would mean al­low­ing cre­ation of a state within state. But they said com­mence­ment of the process of re­leas­ing pris­on­ers from both sides could move things fast. A source told me­dia per­sons that the next round of talks would take place next week at a new venue. The agenda for this cru­cial round would be fi­nalised shortly, he added.

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