LAHORE - Taking yet another hard line on the issue of holding negotiations with the Taliban, PPP Patron-in Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday rejected the formation of the peace committees, saying both the sides represented the banned outfit.

“It’s Taliban talking to Taliban,” said Bilawal’s spokesperson, Fawad Ch, when asked to explain his leader’s stance on the issue in question.

Speaking through his spokesperson, Bilawal set three preconditions to hold negotiations with the TTP. “There should be no talks with the Taliban unless they surrender their arms, show adherence to the country’s Constitution and accept the rights of minorities in the lighyt of Meesaaq-e-Madina signed by Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) with the Jews, but, the government’s offer of talks with the TTP is unconditional and Article 5 of the Constitution, seeking loyalty to the state, has been compromised,” Fawad Ch said while talking to The Nation.

He asserted there was little possibility that the government team could safeguard the country’s interests given its obvious tilt towards the militants.

Fawad Chaudhry made it clear that the PPP patron-in-chief was not against negotiations with the TTP, but he was opposed only to the modus operandi adopted by the government in this regard. He said Bilawal had strong reservations over the names included in the peace committees by both the sides. “It is quite evident that the government-sponsored team comprises apologists for the TTP and the one announced by the latter also has their sympathisers and supporters in it,” he explained, adding virtually the whole affair seems like “Taliban talking to Taliban”.

In an interview with the foreign media the other day, Bilawal accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and PTI Chief Imran Khan of letting down Pakistan by not backing military action against the TTP. He came down hard on Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan on Monday when he labelled the latter as a Taliban man. “It is difficult to differentiate whether Ch Nisar is our interior minister or Taliban’s”, Bilawal remarked.

Though there seems some contradiction in the position taken by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other PPP leaders like former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Syed Khurshid Shah, his spokesperson insists that it is not the case. Speaking on the same subject, Yousaf Raza Gilani on Monday also maintained that there was no difference between the stand taken by Bilawal on the TTP issue and that of the other party men. But at the same time he also indirectly supported the peace process by saying he had asked the prime minister that while negotiating terms of peace with the TTP the issue of his son’s recovery should also be taken up with them.

Bilawal’s spokesperson explained that PPP had supported initiation of dialogue with the TTP at the APC only for the sake of creating national consensus on the matter as all other political parties wanted to try this option first. “But in the later days, the nation saw that the TTP did not respond positively to the peace offers made by the government.  Over 2,000 civilians and army men have been martyred at the hands of TTP since the talks offer”, he said while justifying the tough line taken by Bilawal on the issue of dealing with the TTP.

Not hopeful of any positive outcome of the talks, he said the Pakistan government had so far signed seven different agreements with the militants, but they did not adhere to any of these.