Backchannel contacts begin: Governor office to facilitate TTP talks
PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Engineer Shaukatullah said on Friday night that his office would serve as coordination office of a tribal jirga to facilitate negotiations between the government and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Talking to reporters after a meeting with members of the jirga led by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the governor said he had directed political agents of all tribal regions to cooperate with the jirga in its efforts for making peace with the TTP.
The 87-member tribal jirga was given the mandate to negotiate peace with militants at an all-parties conference hosted by the JUI-F in Islamabad on Thursday. Mainstream political and religious parties as well as civil society groups attended the APC which was boycotted by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf.
The parties also agreed on a five-point declaration adopted at the conference.
Governor Engineer Shaukatullah expressed the hope that the jirga’s endeavour would bring peace to the tribal region.
The meeting at the Governor’s House discussed modalities and future strategy for talks with militants. An official privy to the meeting told Dawn that backchannel contacts had already begun with the Tehrik-i-Taliban leadership and it was expected that before formal talks a major breakthrough would be achieved.
“This is a step forward and major achievement towards peace since an initiative has been made for talks,” the official said, adding that people in Islamabad were not familiar with traditions and culture of the tribal region and problems its people were facing.
The governor said he would inform President Asif Ali Zardari about the development and, if necessary, he would be requested to meet members of the jirga.
A member of the jirga from North Waziristan said there would be no problem with Miramshah-based Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur as he already had a peace deal with the government, but other leaders of the TTP might give tough time to the jirga.
Maulana Fazl praised the TTP for welcoming the APC declaration and said the group had shown farsightedness.
“I have requested the governor to extend full cooperation to the jirga to bring the Taliban and the government to the negotiating table,” he said.
The JUI-F chief said the governor had announced the setting up of a trust for welfare of martyrs’ families and given it Rs10 million.