Govt, TTP agree to extend truce
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.