Pakistan's incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif reaches out to 'Godfather of the Taliban' Sami ul Haq for help in negotiations with Islamists

During the election campaign, Mr Sharif said he would 'withdraw' the country from America’s war on terror

Pakistan's prime minister-elect is pushing ahead with plans to try and negotiate a peace settlement with the country’s militants and has asked a man known as the "Godfather of the Taliban" to act as an intermediary.

A week before he is due to be sworn in, Nawaz Sharif and his senior officials have approached a hardline Islamist leader and politician, Sami ul Haq, and asked him to act as his envoy and make contact with the Taliban insurgents.

Mr Sharif is likely to receive backing for the proposed negotiations from Pakistan’s Islamist political parties and his rival Imran Khan. The former cricket star’s party is poised to form a coalition government in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and has also asked Mr Haq to approach the militants.

Mr Sharif hopes to restore security in Pakistan as he tries to end crippling power shortages and boost the long flagging economy. Khurram Dastgir-Khan, a senior member of Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party (PML-N) said the next government will pursue a broad range of counterinsurgency efforts.

“This is an issue we will be dealing with,” said Mr Dastgir-Khan. “Not just through the use of force, but also negotiations, how the tribal areas will be governed, and how Pakistan’s civil-military relationship can be improved to bring all sides on the same page.”

During the recent election campaign, Mr Sharif announced he would negotiate with the Taliban and “withdraw” the country from America’s so-called war on terror. Mr Khan was even more outspoken about his readiness to negotiate and his nominee for the position of chief minister of KPK, Pervez Khattak, recently went as far as to say his party had no “enmity” with the Taliban.

“Some kind of talks with the Taliban will definitely take place because the political parties who talked about talks have been elected,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political and strategic analyst.

He added: “The problem is that the PML-N has no idea what the Taliban’s condition for talks will be. In the past, the Taliban has refused to recognise Pakistan’s constitution and laws.”

Critics of negotiations have warned that truces with the Pakistani Taliban have been tried several times before, only for them to fail and embolden the militants. In 2009, when the Pakistani Taliban rampaged across the northwest Swat Valley, the then government capitulated to a peace deal that was broken within weeks, during which time the militants acquired even more territory.

It is also unclear what position Pakistan's powerful army will take. In recent weeks, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has stressed that the fight against militancy is Pakistan’s own. The army has said that it would be open to negotiations with the Taliban if they first put down their arms.

“We do not yet know what the army makes of these overtures to Mr Haq but we do know that having had its fingers burnt in the past over peace deals with the Taliban, the military will want Sharif to come up with a really fool-proof plan to ensure that Kayani and his men don't land up with egg on their faces yet again,” said Farzana Shaikh of Chatham House in London.

She added: “I imagine, therefore, that any negotiations with the Taliban that start with demands for the imposition of sharia law will be given short shrift.”

Mr Haq heads a religious seminary, Darul Uloom Haqqania, where many Taliban commanders studied. It granted an honorary doctorate to Mullah Mohammed Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban. Because of this Mr Haq is often called the "Godfather of the Taliban", though some have questioned whether he still retains extensive leverage over the militants.

In comments to the Pakistani media, Mr Haq said he is happy to try and negotiate. Yet he said his involvement was dependant on the willingness of the military for the talks to go ahead.

“Before accepting the role of go-between, I’d need an assurance that the future prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and Pakistan army are on the same page on the issue,” he told the Express Tribune newspaper.

He added: “It is essential that the civilian and military leaderships take a unanimous decision on the issue of peace talks with the Taliban. Meaningful talks cannot be pursued if the two stakeholders have divergent or conflicting approaches to the issue.”

On Tuesday, the Pakistani Taliban took responsibility for an attack earlier this week that killed five policemen traveling in a van in the northwest province of KPK. Ehsanullah Ehsan, the Taliban’s spokesman, said his group would continue to attack those that oppose his organisation.

Suggested Topics
Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week