ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government is planning a fresh round of talks with Taliban negotiators at the weekend, officials said Friday, despite the militants’ refusal to extend a ceasefire called to help peace efforts.
Talks to end the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) bloody seven-year insurgency have been under way since February, with little clear progress made so far.
On Wednesday the militants said they would not extend the ceasefire they began on March 1 to help talks, complaining of a lack of movement from the government side.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said in a statement that he has called a meeting with the TTP’s talks committee to decide how to proceed.
He said only dialogue could overcome reservations and objections, but warned there was little chance of progress without a ceasefire.
“If Taliban have certain objections, we also have reservations,” he said, adding the government pushed forward the peace process against serious logjams.
“(But) I don’t think the talks process will move forward in the absence of a ceasefire,” said Khan, who has been an ardent supporter of the talks.
He will meet the TTP’s three-man talks committee, led by Maulana Sami-ul-Haq.
Members of the government negotiating team are also likely to attend Saturday’s talks, a senior official told AFP.
The government freed 19 tribesmen last week and on Sunday Khan said 13 more of what he called “non-combatant Taliban” prisoners would be released to help the peace process.
Talks were a key campaign pledge for Sharif before he was elected to office for a third time last year, but some observers have cast doubt on their chances of success.