The Parliamentary Committee on National Security on Tuesday formally approved ongoing peace talks between the military and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and approved the formation of a Parliamentary Oversight Committee to ensure the process is conducted in accordance with the Constitution.
According to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the in-camera meeting was chaired by P.M. Shehbaz Sharif and was attended by senior political leaders, parliamentary leaders, and the top military leadership, including Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum, Peshawar Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed; as well as the chief ministers of all provinces—barring Khyber-Pakthunkhwa, as the PTI reportedly chose to boycott, with neither C.M. Mahmood Khan, nor Opposition Leader in the Senate Waseem Shehzad participating.
“The meeting, while endorsing the importance of the ‘grand reconciliation dialogue,’ declared that today’s session is a first step towards that end,” read the statement. It said the meeting was briefed on national security issues and the recent talks with the banned TTP, adding, “The participants reiterated that Pakistan has made remarkable achievements against terrorism and extremism which have been recognized globally.”
The meeting, said the P.M.’s Office, also paid tribute to the sacrifices rendered by the nation and the security forces in establishing the writ of the government across the country. “The meeting reiterated that under the Constitution of Pakistan, the use of force is the sole prerogative of the State,” it said, adding that the meeting acknowledged the sacrifices of the victims of terrorism, including students of Peshawar’s Army Public School, but made it clear that the state of Pakistan was, is, and would remain the guardian of the sacrifices of its martyrs and the families of the victims.
Paying tribute to the tribal people, the meeting’s participants acknowledged that their sacrifices and key support had led to peace and stability after immense hardships and sufferings. According to the statement, the meeting was informed that effective and practical operations of the security forces are part of the strategy of clearing, holding, construction, and transfer of powers to the civil administration. The participants emphasized that the State was committed to empowering these areas and their well-being in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan.
It said the briefing had stressed that with the support of the Afghan government, and led by civilian and military officials, the Pakistani government was negotiating with the banned TTP within the framework of the Constitution of Pakistan to reinforce regional and internal peace. “The meeting stated that the final results would be implemented after the completion of the procedure within the parameters of the Constitution of Pakistan and the approval of the Government of Pakistan,” it added.
In a media interaction after the meeting, Senator Kamil Ali Agha said the Army had given a detailed and satisfactory briefing on national security and taken Parliament into confidence on the prevailing security situation. He claimed the Pakistan Army had given all powers to Parliament with regard to policies on national security.
Agha also claimed that talks would only be held if the TTP agreed to dissolve its organizational structure and accepted the Constitution.
In addition to the peace talks, per sources, the participants were also briefed on the internal and external challenges being faced by the country, as well as the situation in neighboring Afghanistan and ongoing efforts for border management. The committee was also informed that there is no organizational structure of any armed terrorist group in the country and intelligence-based operations are underway against the remnants of the terror outfits.