Imran Khan on Taliban's team!
The Pakistani Taliban said that cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan would be one of five members of a committee set up to hold talks with the government.
The announcement came on Saturday days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif named a similar team to facilitate dialogue with the extremists, who have waged a deadly insurgency since 2007.
"The committee members will hold talks with their interlocutors in the government's team on our behalf and put forth our point of view," Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told AFP.
Khan is joined by the chief cleric of Islamabad's Red Mosque, Maulana Abdul Aziz, and three senior religious party leaders: Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, Mufti Kifayatullah and Professor Ibrahim Khan.
Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, has been a vocal supporter of negotiating with insurgents.
Commenting on reports that the outlawed TTP has nominated him for negotiations, Imran Khan has said the militant group should select its own representatives for the peace talks.
He said in a statement issued on Saturday that the PTI had full faith in the four-member committee formed by the government for the talks.
However, PTI's information secretary Dr Shireen Mazari said the party hadn't been contacted by the Taliban to ask its chairman to become a member of its committee for peace talks with the government.
"I will continue to be part of the committee if the government shows sincerity in looking into (Taliban) demands -- and of course the major demand is enforcement of Sharia law in the country," Mazari added.
Sharif came to power last year pledging to reach out to the Taliban and engage in talks to end their seven-year insurgency.
But he has been criticised for failing to set a strategy to respond to a surge in militant violence which has resulted in 114 deaths since the start of the year, according to an AFP tally.
On Wednesday, he named a four-man committee under his special assistant Irfan Siddiqui to assist in dialogue efforts with the Taliban.
In his address to parliament Sharif called on militants to stop attacks, "because terrorism and talks cannot go side by side".