Pakistani Taliban begin to review Sharif’s offer (Roundup)

Islamabad, Jan 31 (IANS) Pakistani Taliban went into a marathon session Friday to review the dialogue offer by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a Taliban leader said.

The Taliban’s political council, tasked to take political decision, started deliberations Friday on the government’s offer and come up with its own stance, media reports quoted a Taliban leader as saying, according to Xinhua.
Qari Shakil Ahmed Haqqani, a Taliban commander from Mohmand Agency tribal region, is presiding over the eight-member political council’s meeting. The council’s decisions will be forwarded to the central leaders.
Maulvi Fazalullah, chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is likely to chair the meeting of the 16-member central council at an unknown place Saturday to take a final decision, the TTP leader was quoted as saying.
Pakistani officials say Fazalullah operates from eastern Afghanistan after he has regrouped his fighters in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province.
The prime minister Wednesday offered talks to the Taliban and constituted a four-member committee to initiate the process.
He presided over the committee’s first meeting Friday and gave some guidelines to its members. Official sources said that Sharif directed the committee members to speed up the process.
The committee comprises Adviser on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui, former ISI official Major Muhammad Amir, senior journalist Rahimullah Yousufzai and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and former Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar would assist the committee and the premier would oversee it. Sharif will personally monitor the process and one member of the committee will keep him informed about the progress.
The prime minister told the panel that the terms of the dialogue process must be according to the laws of Pakistan.
The committee was given absolute power to seek assistance from any religious or political party, media person or army official in its attempt to make the dialogue process successful, some media reports said.
The prime minister assured the committee members of government’s all-out support and said they will get all the required logistic and administrative assistance.