ISLAMABAD: Negotiators for Pakistan’s government and the Taliban met for more than three hours Thursday in the first round of talks aimed at ending the militants’ bloody seven-year insurgency.
The two sides gathered in Islamabad for a preliminary meeting likely to chart a “roadmap” for future discussions, amid deep scepticism over whether dialogue can yield a lasting peace deal.
Irfan Siddiqui, the government’s chief negotiator hailed the meeting after it had finished, saying that the Taliban committee had “responded to us beyond our expectations”.
“We are really happy that the Taliban committee has responded to us beyond our expectations and they have heard our reservations and told us their reservations with an open heart,” Siddiqi told reporters on Thursday evening.
“We share the common goal of making this country peaceful in accordance with Islamic teaching. And I thank the Taliban committee for meeting us,” Siddiqui added.
Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, the Taliban’s chief negotiator, said his side would hold discussions with the Taliban leadership and a second round of talks would be held after they had responded.