Bilawal forms three-member body to engage other parties over TTP talks

Committee consists of Qamar Zaman Kaira, Sherry Rehman and Farhatullah Babar

In continuation of the party meeting on Saturday to discuss the issue of terrorism in the country, particularly in the light of recent developments in Afghanistan involving Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday named a three-member committee to engage other political parties for taking up the issue in parliament.

The committee consists of Qamar Zaman Kaira, Sherry Rehman and Farhatullah Babar. It may be mentioned here that after an in-depth discussion on the issue the other day, the party had reiterated its position that parliament alone was the best forum for a conversation on the issue.

A series of meetings were recently held between representatives of Pakistan and the outlawed TTP in Kabul to broker a peace deal, with the Afghan Taliban government acting as a mediator.

Last year, the two sides had agreed to a ceasefire but talks failed. The talks, also held inside Afghanistan, broke down due to a disagreement over the release of TTP prisoners held by Pakistan, according to the media.

However, last month, a tribal jirga, consisting of elders, politicians and others from the erstwhile tribal areas, had also visited Afghanistan and met TTP leaders, and the flurry of meetings led to the TTP announcing an indefinite ceasefire.

The development did not sit well with the PPP, as the party had previously opposed talks with the TTP during the tenure of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and questioned why parliament was not taken into confidence. At that time, Bilawal had termed the talks a “betrayal of the blood of martyrs”.

On Saturday, Bilawal tweeted, “PPP believes that all decisions must be taken by parliament. Will be reaching out to allied parties to create consensus on the way forward.”

The day also saw the PPP leadership meet at Zardari House in Islamabad to discuss in detail the issue of terrorism, particularly in the light of recent developments.

The meeting was attended among others by Yousaf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Faryal Talpur, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Syed Khurshid Shah, Sherry Rehman, Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Faisal Karim Kundi, Humayun Khan, Nadeem Afzal Chan, Akhunzada Chattan, Rukhsana Bangash, Nisar Khuro and Farhatullah Babar.

A senior PPP leader said there appeared to be wheels within wheels in the state apparatus, and it was extremely risky for national security to conduct such a serious exercise without informing parliament, political parties and other stakeholders.

Moreover, Farhatullah Babar said the meeting reiterated the party’s position that all decisions must be taken by the parliament and thus, the parliament must be taken on board.