ISLAMABAD  - PTI chairman Imran Khan and JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman have refused to act as Tabiban representatives in peace talks with the government citing different reasons.

However, the other three members of the team named by the TTP will hold a preliminary meeting with government committee today afternoon in Islamabad to chart a “roadmap” for talks.

Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) said Monday they “appreciated” the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) request for Imran to be part of their five-member negotiating team but declined the offer, saying Taliban should select their own representatives for talks.

Fazlur Rehman of Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) said they were not consulted by the government over initiation of talks and formation of four-member government peace committee, adding that non-acceptance of their demand to use the platform of a national jirga has diminished the prospects of talks’ success.

Apart from Imran and Fazl, the Taliban had nominated Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) chief Samiul Haq, former chief cleric of the Lal Masjid Abdul Aziz, Professor Muhammad Ibrahim of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Mufti Kifayatullah as their representatives. The government team comprises PM’s Adviser on National Affairs Irfan Siddique, veteran journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, former ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand and former ISI officer Major (r) Amir Shah.

The three members of Taliban’s nominated committee, who have accepted the offer to negotiate peace on their behalf, held their first meeting in Islamabad on Monday and discussed ways to move forward and the issues involving the dialogue.

The meeting was chaired by JUI-S chief Samiul Haq, who is also known as father of the Taliban because he has been heading Darul Uloom Haqqania in Akora Khattak, which along with other JUI-S seminaries, was used for training the Taliban during Soviet-Afghan war.

The TTP’s central Shura has also constituted another 10-man committee for monitoring the talks. Its members include Qari Shakil Khan Haqqani, Umar Khalid Khurasani, Qari Bashir, Azam Tariq, Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and Asmatullah Muavia.

Also on Monday, Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and discussed the issue of proposed talks with the Taliban. Sources said the military and civilian leaderships discussed major contours of the upcoming peace talks while Gen Raheel also briefed the prime minister about security situation along the country’s borders.

JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman on Monday announced his and his party’s dissociation from ongoing dialogue process, which according to him would prove ‘ineffective’. Addressing a press conference following a meeting of the party’s advisory committee, he said: “I pray for the success of peace talks but I don’t expect they would be successful.”

Giving reasons for their decision, he said they were neither consulted nor informed about the government’s decision to initiate peace talks. He also expressed his reservations over ignoring his party’s proposal to conduct talks through the jirga system, which he said enjoyed the trust of both sides. “Mufti Kifayatullah will not be part of the TTP proposed committee,” he said while reacting to inclusion of the JUI-F leader in Taliban’s negotiating team.

On the other hand, PTI Core Committee also met on Monday and formally announced that their cricketer-turned-politician chief will not play on the pitch decorated for peace dialogue. “While PTI appreciates the trust reposed by the Taliban, but Imran Khan cannot be a part of the TTP named committee for arbitration,” it said.

The core committee expressed full confidence on the four-member government peace team, saying its member Rustam Shah Mohmand would represent PTI in the talks. It also urged their party-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) government to fully assist peace negotiations.

It also urged the prime minister to demand the US government to end drone attacks to ensure that talks are “not droned” again as happened when TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack.

Emphasizing a timeframe for the dialogue it said, “Once talks commence, we need timelines so that results can be achieved. Time is the essence as powerful vested interests and anti-Pakistan elements will be looking to sabotage the process.” It reiterated that PTI “will support all developments towards peace within the parameters of the Constitution”.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting of the three TTP-proposed arbitrators, JUI-S chief Samiul Haq said the venue and mechanism for talks will be decided at today’s (Tuesday) meeting with government committee. To a query, he said Taliban have not given them list of their demands but their known demand of enforcement of Shariah was constitutional.

Sami said the government attitude was “very positive” and interior minister and PM himself have appreciated Taliban’s nominated committee. About timeframe of talks, Sami said they were not in a position to give exact timeline but assured that process would take weeks not months. To another question, he said Maulana Yusuf Shah would be coordinator of their team.

JI leader Professor Ibrahim on the occasion said implementation of Shariah was not just a demand of Taliban but of the whole nation. He said the solution to the terrorism could only be achieved through dialogue. He said Taliban’s dialogue team is fully authorised to hold talks.

After their meeting, JUI-S chief Samiul Haq also made a telephonic contact with Ifran Siddiqui, the coordinator-member of government team, for initiation of dialogue process and the meeting between the two sides was tentatively set for today (Tuesday), government sources confirmed.

According to media reports, Special Assistant to PM Irfan Siddiqui later said they would arrange the meeting with TTP team when asked. He said government was going for talks with all openness and they sincerely wanted to move ahead for restoration of peace. Sources said Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali will also chair a meeting of government committee today morning to fine tune their strategy for dialogue.

The Nation monitoring adds: TTP spokesman said on Monday the militant organization will soon propose two new names, after Imran Khan and Fazalur Rehman refused to act as their representatives for talks with the government, a private TV channel reported. He said the names of senior journalist Orya Maqbool Jan and Ansar Abbasi – which were previously considered for the Taliban committee – were also being reviewed for nomination. The spokesman regretted JUI-F chief’s decision of not becoming part of the dialogue process, adding that Fazl does not even have confidence in his own self.