ISLAMABAD: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that all decisions related to the issue of terrorism must be made by parliament amid the country’s ongoing talks with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Bilawal, who is also the foreign minister and has mentioned on several occasions that he has been personally affected by terrorism, said the party would reach out to its allies to build a consensus on the way forward.
“PPP held a high-level meeting to discuss the issue of terrorism, particularly in light of recent developments in Afghanistan, with the TTA (Tehreek-i-Taliban Afghanistan) & TTP. PPP believes that all decisions must be taken by parliament,” he tweeted, without making an overt reference to the negotiations with the banned group.
Senior party leaders — Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Murad Ali Shah, Sherry Rehman, Khursheed Shah, Faryal Talpur, Nayyer Bukhari, Najmuddin, Faisal Karim Kundi, Humayun Khan, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Yasin, Chaudhry Manzoor, Nadeem Afzal Chan, Akhunzada Chattan, Rukhsana Bangash, Nisar Khuhro and Farhatullah Babar — attended the meeting which was chaired by Bilawal and former president Asif Ali Zardari.
Akhundzada Chattan was also a part of the Pakistani tribal delegation that flew to Kabul to join negotiations early this month.
In a statement issued after the Saturday meeting, the PPP said the party had reiterated that all decisions must be taken by the parliament, and thus, the parliament must be taken on board.
The Afghan Taliban’s interim government is facilitating peace talks between Islamabad and the TTP whose leadership is already in Kabul.
Last month, the government and the TTP had agreed to extend a ceasefire, this time, indefinitely and continue negotiations to find an end to the nearly two decades of militancy in the tribal border region.
Later, a 50-member tribal jirga had also joined the talks. A Pakistani official in Kabul had told Dawn.com at the time that the talks had “entered a serious phase” with some progress.
A Dawn editorial at the time had said that if the TTP’s demands were to be met, it would amount to a surrender of the state’s authority over parts of the erstwhile tribal belt where the militants are active.
“Militant groups should not be allowed to dictate to the state where security forces can and cannot go. Moreover, the merger of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2018 came about as part of a constitutional process, and cannot be undone to accommodate the TTP’s whims … considering this chequered history, prospects of a durable peace with the militants are bleak,” it had said.
The PPP has previously opposed talks with the TTP during the tenure of the previous PTI government and questioned why parliament was not taken into confidence. PPP Chairman Bilawal had termed the talks a “betrayal of the blood of martyrs”.