Pakistan begins talks with Taliban

The first meeting held Thursday.

Pakistani government negotiators have held the first of a series of scheduled peace talks. The meeting held on Thursday.

A Taliban member, Maulana Abdul Aziz, prayers leader of Islamabad’s “Red Mosque”, had said the talks would be held at an undisclosed location.

It was be the first meeting between the two sides since the committees were set up last week.

The talks, earlier scheduled to hold on Tuesday, could not meet after two members of the five-member Taliban committee refused to join the process.

The Taliban have not included any of their members in the team and had formed a team of religious and political leaders.

The Taliban had named a five-member intermediary team that comprised Jamaat-e-Islami leader Professor Mohammad Ibrahim, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiul Haq, JUI-F politician Mufti Kifayatullah, Red Mosque Islamabad’s prayers leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan.

Two members of the team, JUI-F’s Mufti Kifayatullah and PTI’s Imran Khan, had declined to be part of the Taliban committee.

The four-member government’s committee had sought some clarifications about the powers of the Taliban team and whether members of the Taliban’s political council would meet the government’s negotiators.

Maulana Aziz said the Taliban negotiators would decide when and where to meet the Taliban representatives after the first round of the talks with the government’s team.

He said they either meet the Taliban leaders or invite them somewhere near Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

According to him, the Taliban has not yet conveyed their demands to the negotiators and the team could ask to give them written documents.

“The Taliban leaders have told us they are waiting for meeting with us,” the senior cleric said.

Coordinator of the government dialogue team, Irfan Siddiqui, said the government team wanted to have certain unidentified issues cleared before the dialogue process formally begins.

The government set out five conditions, including ending hostilities, saying a “journey for peace” had started.

(Xinhua/NAN)


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