One of foremost challenges that the Nawaz government would have to face is to make peace with the Pakistani Taliban, who after the killing of their senior leader Waliur Rehman in a US drone strike on Wednesday, have retracted their talks’ offer.
But the PML-N, which is perturbed over the development, says it would engage the Hakimullah-led Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) in peace dialogue soon after the formation of its government.
After prime minister-in-waiting Nawaz Sharif declared that his government would feel no hesitation in talking to the Taliban, the PML-N has started work on peace talks’ plan with the help of influential religious-cum-political leaders like JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Maulana Samiul Haq, head of JUI-S.
The PML-N had reached out to these two important figures known for their clout among the Taliban cadres even before the formation of its government in Islamabad.
However, the killing of TTP’s number two leader Waliur Rehman, who was said to be in favour of talks with Pakistani authorities, has caused a set back to efforts of the PML-N, especially after the announcement by Taliban about the withdrawal of the talks offer.
The PML-N leadership would now review its strategy and chalk out the plan afresh to extend an olive branch to the TTP and for that, Fazlur Rehman and Maulana Samiul Haq along with some other influential religious leaders would be tasked with persuading the Taliban to enter peace talks, sources in the PML-N said on Friday.
They said the PML-N leadership would also take the army leadership on board on its plan to hold talks with the Taliban.
The PML-N leaders acknowledged that the TTP’s retraction of talks offer had caused worries for them, but they also said that it was not a setback and despite the development, the future ruling party would continue with its efforts for peace in the border regions.
Senator Mushahidullah Khan, PML-N secretary information, told Pakistan Today that although the TTP’s withdrawal for talks was a serious problem, the people must remember that the PML-N had yet to form government.
“Technically, it was not a ‘no’ by the Taliban to the PML-N as we are yet to form our government. When we have our government in place, we would try all out to reach out to the Taliban for peace talks. There are different mechanisms that will be used,” he said.
Khan said some people could also help in facilitating talks with the Taliban and they would be asked to do so.
The PML-N secretary information also criticised the US for its drone policy, saying after years of war in the region, it had been proved that Washington’s policies had failed. “They (Americans) will have to change their policies, we will ask them to stop the drone strikes,” he said.
According to sources, the PML-N leaders, despite their resolve to enter into peace dialogue with the Pakistani Taliban, also realise that there were serious difficulties in pursuing talks with the TTP.
“PML-N leaders know very well that it would be a daunting task to hold talks with the Taliban, the people who don’t even accept the constitution, but they also believe that dialogue is the only way out of this quagmire,” a source said.
Some PML-N leaders, in their conversations with media, also dropped hints at the difficulties in holding talks with the TTP.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Khurram Dastagir Khan said, “The PML-N has yet to embark on a serious course to achieve peace and we know the grave challenges that lie ahead. There are several militant groups out there and it’s difficult to determine who would be there interlocutor.”
“Now the announcement by the Taliban to withdraw their peace talks’ offer has aggravated the situation and made it further difficult to pursue the path of dialogue. I won’t say that TTP’s announcement is a set back, but it has certainly made our task difficult.”