A parliamentary committee has authorised the military leadership of Pakistan to hold peace talks with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said.
He said on Saturday that the military leadership would inform the committee about any progress in the talks and the matter would then be debated in Parliament.
The talks would be held only under the Constitution of Pakistan, he said, adding that neither anything over and above the Constitution would be negotiated nor any such agreement would be reached, the Dawn newspaper reported.
On June 22, the military had reassured the political leadership that no extra-constitutional concessions would be given to the banned TTP in the ongoing dialogue and any deal made with the terrorist group would be subject to parliamentary approval.
The assurance was given by the military leadership at a meeting held with the political leaders at the Prime Minister's House, the report said.
This was the first meeting between the national political leadership and the military, which has been negotiating with the TTP in Afghanistan with the help of the Afghan Taliban.
The meeting was arranged after the Pakistan Peoples Party, a major partner in the ruling coalition, lodged a protest for not being taken on board about the talks.
In October last year, then-prime minister Imran Khan revealed that talks were underway with the TTP.
He said the talks with the militants were taking place in Afghanistan and the new
Taliban rulers were helping in the process, the report said. The TTP has been involved in violence for more than a decade. So far, all efforts to end violence have not yielded any results.
Pakistan shares a long and porous border with Afghanistan, which runs through mountainous terrain and is largely unpatrolled. The Durand Line was drawn by the British rulers in 1896 and is disputed by Afghanistan, which also resists Pakistani attempts to erect any border fence.
The fencing of the 2,640-km land border with Afghanistan began in March 2017 after a spate of attacks from across the porous border.
According to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies database, the TTP this year carried out nearly 46 attacks, mostly against security forces, in which 79 people were killed.
The negotiations process was secretly revived in April which led to the TTP announcing a ceasefire on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr in May. As matters progressed, the ceasefire kept being extended and currently a three-month cessation of hostilities is being observed.
Pakistani authorities are asking for the dissolution of the terrorist organisation, laying of arms, and respect for the Constitution, whereas the TTP is seeking withdrawal of security forces from the erstwhile tribal areas, annulment of the 2018 merger of tribal agencies with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the release of its fighters, and compensation for the damage it suffered.
The group has, however, softened its demand for the imposition of Shariah laws to some extent.
(With PTI inputs)