A key parliamentary committee of Pakistan on Tuesday gave formal approval to the government for holding talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and decided to constitute a steering committee for the talks with the banned group.
Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) noted that the Shehbaz Sharif government is negotiating with the TTP within the framework of the Constitution of Pakistan to maintain internal and regional peace, Geo News reported.
According to the statement, the final outcome of the discussion with TTP will be implemented after the completion of the procedure within the limits of the Constitution of Pakistan and the approval of the Pakistan government.
The committee also approved the process of negotiation and also agreed to form a parliamentary oversight committee which would be responsible for overseeing the process within Constitutional limits.
This meeting comes as the proscribed TTP has stated that it would not budge from its demand for the reversal of the merger of Pakistan's erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) with the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In an interview published on YouTube, the chief of the outlawed group Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud said that negotiations between the TTP and the Pakistani government were in progress but no major breakthrough had been made.
This remark comes on the heels of the meeting between TTP and a delegation of tribal elders in Kabul to negotiate an extension of a truce with the Pakistani Taliban. The outlawed group are a separate group but allied with the Afghan Taliban, who grabbed power in Kabul last August, after the US drawdown.
"Our demands are clear and especially the reversal of Fata merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is our primary demand which the group cannot back down from," Mehsud was quoted as saying by Dawn in the video interview.
"The talks have yet to reach a conclusion," said Noor Wali. The head of the outlawed group confirmed the Afghan Taliban were facilitating the negotiations, adding that if the Pakistani government showed "seriousness", then a breakthrough in talks would be possible.
Notably, Pakistan Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had recently ruled out the reversal of the FATA merger with Khyber which was done through a constitutional amendment in 2018.
Earlier, TTP had on June 2 announced an "indefinite ceasefire" in view of the "substantial progress" made in talks with the Pakistani government during a round of meetings in Kabul. The announcement had after a 50-member Pakistani tribal jirga -- including a federal minister, representatives from the KP government and tribal elders -- joined the peace talks.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Pakistan has increasingly complained of attacks across the border from Afghanistan, an issue that has become a source of diplomatic tension.
Regional experts say the rise of TTP enabled by the Afghan Taliban's steadfast support will expand the threat of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, including against civilian targets.
Since its founding in 2007, the TTP has emerged as the most influential and violent anti-Pakistan terrorist outfit in South Asia. Unlike its Afghan namesake, the TTP does not enjoy favourable relations with Islamabad.
Despite the organization's pledges to the contrary, international observers have expressed concerns that the Taliban could once again transform Afghanistan into a safe haven for international terrorist organizations, as had been the case prior to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. (ANI)