Lal Masjid cleric likely to stay on in Taliban peace panel
Posted on Feb 08 2014 | IANS
Islamabad, Feb 8 : Cleric of Islamabad's Lal Masjid and member of the Pakistani Taliban-nominated peace talks committee, Maulana Abdul Aziz is expected to continue his role in the peace process after he threatened to walk out Friday if he was not assured that Sharia or Islamic law will be enforced in Pakistan, media reported Saturday.
Maulana Yousuf Shah, who is the contact person for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told Dawn News that the chief negotiator of the TTP peace talks committee Maulana Samiul Haq spoke to Aziz and "it was likely that the chief cleric of Lal Masjid would continue to work with the TTP committee".
"I will neither meet Taliban nor will join dialogue process" unless given an assurance by government on this count, The Nation quoted Aziz as saying at a press conference Friday.
Aziz said that Pakistan's constitution should be replaced by the teachings of the Quran and the Holy Prophet.
"That should be the law in Pakistan and until the committee brings this point on the agenda, I won't be part of negotiations," he was quoted as saying.
According to Dawn Online, Shah said that the possibility of a meeting of the TTP negotiators with the leadership of the banned outfit would become clearer in two days' time.
No time or venue has been fixed for a meeting with the TTP leadership, Shah said, adding that the committee could also seek assistance from the federal government in arranging it.
After meeting the TTP leadership, they would put forth their point of view before the government negotiators, he said.
The nine-member 'monitoring' committee of the Taliban includes Qari Shakil Khan Haqqani, Umar Khalid Khurasani, Qari Bashir, Azam Tariq, Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and Asmatullah Muavia.
After the peace talks between the TTP negotiators and the Pakistan government-appointed committee kicked off Thursday, hopes of a positive outcome were virtually dashed following Aziz's threat to walk out.