For more than five years, Pakistani Taliban forces have been battling with the government in an attempt to establish a strict Islamic ruling, and now peace talks have finally begun between the two parties in an attempt to resolve the issue.
Since 2007, the Taliban forces have campaigned against the official governing body’s ruling yet it was current Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, who has succeeded in opening the peace talks in Islamabad.
With the first meeting held in the first week of February, representatives from both sides discussed how best to end the violence in the South Asian country.
In a statement after the first meeting on Thursday 6th February, which lasted over three hours, the two sides stressed their commitment to dialogue.
“Both committees concluded that all sides should refrain from any act that could damage the talks,” it read. “Both condemn recent acts of violence in Pakistan, saying such efforts should not sabotage the talks.”
Militants from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been waging an insurgency inside Pakistan since 2007.
More than 100 people, including soldiers, died in Taliban attacks across the country in January. Thousands have been killed since the TTP came to the fore in 2007.
Despite Thursday’s meeting supposedly acting as a ‘broad roadmap’ for future contacts, many in the country doubt that talking to the insurgent group, that stages almost daily attacks, will succeed.
Several earlier efforts at striking peace deals with the militants failed to end the violence for long, only allowing them to regroup, recruit new fighters and strike back with renewed vengeance.
As the sides prepared for talks this week, a suicide bomber killed eight people near a Shi’ite Muslim mosque in the city of Peshawar. The Taliban have tried to distance themselves from the attack but the bombing reinforced doubts about the talks.
Joining chief negotiator for the government, Irfan Siddiqui, was veteran journalist, Rahimullah Yusufzai; former ambassador, Rustam Shah Mohmand; and a retired major from the ISI intelligence service, Amir Shah.
The three-man TTP team comprised Mr ul-Haq, known as the ‘Father of the Taliban’; the chief cleric of Islamabad’s Red Mosque, Maulana Abdul Aziz; and the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami party, Ibrahim Khan.
Pakistan’s Terms and Conditions
The five conditions set out by Government representatives prior to the talks:
• All talks be held within the framework of the constitution
• The scope of the talks should remain confined to areas affected by violence, not the whole country
• All hostilities should cease during talks
• The Taliban should clarify the role of a separate nine-member committee that they have established
• The talks should not be protracted