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Any Deal with TTP to be Subject to Parliamentary Approval

Interior minister claims at press briefing ongoing negotiations will only be conducted in accordance with Constitution

by Newsweek Pakistan

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah addresses a press conference with Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb. Photo courtesy PID

The political leadership of the country was on Wednesday reassured that the military’s ongoing talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) will be in accordance with the Constitution and any “deal” will be subject to parliamentary approval.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the country’s senior political leadership met military officials at the Prime Minister’s House for a “national security meeting” on the ongoing dialogue with the extremist group. The meeting had been demanded by the Pakistan Peoples Party with the support of its coalition partners over reports that the military was negotiating with the TTP without parliamentary approval.

In addition to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen. Nadeem Raza, the meeting was attended by all the services chiefs and Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum and Peshawar Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, who has been leading the talks. From the political side, former president Asif Ali Zardari; Awami National Party’s Ameer Haider Hoti; Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement’s Mohsin Dawar; Balochistan Awami Party’s Khalid Magsi, and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah were all in attendance. Several members of the prime minister’s cabinet, including Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Sanaullah, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Miftah Ismail also attended the meeting.

The statement said that Lt. Gen. Faiz and Lt. Gen. Nadeem had briefed the meeting on the progress in the talks, stressing that the negotiations were being held within the framework of the Constitution. They also that the TTP had been informed that its desire for the reversal of the tribal areas’ merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was non-negotiable, adding that other demands were still under discussion. It said the military officials had vowed to successfully concluding the dialogue at the earliest.

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

The participants were also briefed on Pakistan’s efforts for peace in Afghanistan. “It also hoped that Afghanistan’s soil would not be used against Pakistan,” read the statement, adding the meeting had been informed that Islamabad had restored peace in the country after several years of conflict. It noted that the military officials had confirmed the Afghan government was playing the role of a mediator in the talks.

According to the timeline of the talks presented to the meeting, negotiations with the TTP began in October 2021 on the demand of Afghan Taliban. Initially, a month-long ceasefire was implemented, but could not be extended after the militants refused to continue talks over claims that Pakistani authorities were not fulfilling their commitments. The process was then revived in April, resulting in the Pakistani Taliban announcing a ceasefire ahead of Eidul Fitr. That ceasefire is still in place, extended indefinitely while talks continue.

Earlier reports had suggested the TTP was seeking the withdrawal of security forces from the erstwhile tribal areas; reversal of their merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; release of detained fighters; and compensation for the damages to the area. By contrast, Pakistan is demanding the dissolution of the terrorist organization, laying down of arms, and respect for the Constitution,

In a press conference after the meeting, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the participants of the meeting had been assured that peace would be secured through the talks. The interior minister went on to say that the government planned to call an in-camera session of Parliament to take lawmakers into confidence on decisions related to national security. Echoing the press release, he stressed that the talks would only take place in accordance with the Constitution and with the full approval of Parliament.

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