A parliamentary committee has authorized Pakistani military leaders to hold peace talks with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said.
He said on Saturday that military leaders would update the committee on any progress in the talks and the matter would then be debated in parliament.
The talks would be held solely under the Constitution of Pakistan, he said, adding that nothing beyond the Constitution would be negotiated and no such deal would be reached, the Dawn newspaper reported.
On June 22, the military had reassured political leaders that no extra-constitutional concessions would be made to the banned TTP as part of the ongoing dialogue and that any deal reached with the terror group would be subject to parliamentary approval.
The assurance was given by the military leaders during a meeting held with political leaders at the Prime Minister’s House, according to the report.
It was the first meeting between the national political leadership and the army, which is negotiating with the TTP in Afghanistan with the help of the Afghan Taliban.
The meeting was called after the Pakistan People’s Party, a major partner in the ruling coalition, filed a protest for not being taken on board the talks.
In October last year, then Prime Minister Imran Khan revealed talks were underway with the TTP.
He said the talks with the militants were taking place in Afghanistan and the new Taliban leadership was helping the process, according to the report. The TTP has been involved in violence for more than a decade. So far, all efforts to end the violence have yielded no results.
Pakistan shares a long and porous border with Afghanistan, which traverses mountainous terrain and is largely unpoliced. The Durand Line was drawn by British leaders in 1896 and is contested by Afghanistan, which is also resisting Pakistani attempts to erect a border fence.
The closing of the 2,640km land border with Afghanistan began in March 2017 after a series of attacks across the porous border.
According to the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies database, the TTP has carried out nearly 46 attacks this year, mostly against security forces, in which 79 people have been killed.
The negotiation process was secretly relaunched in April, leading to the TTP announcing a ceasefire on Eid ul Fitr in May. As things progressed, the ceasefire has been steadily extended and currently a three-month cessation of hostilities is being observed.
Pakistani authorities demand disbandment of terrorist organization, laying down of arms and respect for the Constitution, while TTP demands withdrawal of security forces from former tribal areas, reversal of 2018 merger of tribal agencies with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the release of its fighters and compensation for the damage suffered.
The group has, however, to some extent relaxed its demand for the imposition of Sharia laws.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)