Govt’s dialogue with TTP irks senators

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From Senior Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Senators sparred over state’s negotiations with outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and demanded clarity from government over matter.

Institutions that overlook country’s national security briefed an important meeting a day earlier at Prime Minister’s Office, with high-level political leadership in presence.

In session of Upper House of Parliament, Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said a session on negotiation with TTP took place at PM’s Office yesterday in which representatives of some political parties were present but not everyone was invited.

“This session took decisions related to talks with TTP. Therefore, there should be clarity and house should be informed that which committee’s session was it?” Senator Ahmed questioned.

“Was this a session of a parliamentary committee? If not, then where does Parliament stand on this matter?” JI Senator wondered.

Senator slammed government and asked it whether Parliament was a mere “rubber stamp”.

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said Parliament is “always used as a rubber stamp”. “There will be no use of presenting TTP agreement before Parliament if government finalises it as agreement cannot be amended later,” former Senate Chairman said.

In response, Azam Nazeer Tarar, who is law minister said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has made it clear that negotiations will be in line with Constitution.

“Talks with TTP will be held in consultation with Parliament and Parliament will be part of it,” he said.

PML-N Senator Irfan Siddiqui said negotiations with TTP did not start two-and-a-half months back, but they were initiated during previous government’s tenure. “Are negotiations taking place somewhere else or are they taking inside country? We did not know even that, but now details are being unveiled gradually.”