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Scattered Negotiations

The central question facing the nation today is whether its current strategy of initiating talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan – a banned outfit – would yield the necessary gains of bringing peace to the country? More specifically, will the offer of dialogue actually lead the TTP to cease its relentless campaign of terror against the Pakistani state, which has resulted in 40,000 lives and 6,000 security personnel? The answers seems implausible, from the outset. Quite clearly so far, the militant outfit has refused to bite the dialogue bullet, and hence, would joining hands with the militants rightfully spell out Pakistan’s definition of an ‘all-inclusive’ approach towards diffusing internal threats? After all, peace dialogue with the enemies of the state is never an auspicious belief to lay federal faith in.

“We demand rewriting of Pakistan’s Constitution, while the military says any talks with militants must be within the ambit of the Constitution. We will not budge an inch from our demand. We will withdraw support from any Taliban commander who compromises on this demand.”

With greater reference to TTP's stance on these negotiations, the above mentioned statement came from the outfit's other half – The Mohmand Agency chapter – later last year, seemed to collide with its central leadership’s image of availing the negotiations opportunity, with the state. However, the presence of such free and fearless circulation of self-favoring conditions, reflect towards the braver ground rising beneath the Taliban, while the country survives its frail dialogue offering.

This combined national approach towards disempowering the militant group which only eyes the factors which cushion the Taliban agenda and not necessarily the ones which may tone down its hunger for dominance, gives a clear indication of what Pakistan’s diagnosis of TTP’s riotous assault on home soil is all about. It can be safely said that this is a product of colliding ideology, and it would be foolish to believe that a formal meeting would shake off all the differences, especially when we consider the entity in question.

Formed in 2007 and loyal to Al-Qaeda, could a war simply based on ideological incompatibilities with the state ever possibly serve as a rational justification towards the prolonging of a Taliban Jihad, which resulted in hundreds of attacks and threatened all possible avenues of peace and stability in the nation? Perhaps, not.

On the other hand, following the latest installment of suicide bombings from TTP – the twin suicide bomb attacks on Peshawar’s historic church, the police station in Qissa Khawani bazaar and three preliminary acts of violence during late September last year – a golden opportunity is at offer for the Nawaz leadership this year. The state can aim to translate rising public hatred for TTP’s relentless killings into a grand fight for national freedom. On-ground realities suggest the militant organization aiming to cement itself from a position of strength in the dialogue, bringing its set of determined conditions under the state’s scrutiny while forcing it to declare ceasefire without paying heed to the idea itself. Hence, if TTP remains physically dominant and peace-talks catch any momentous effect in the near future; temporary discontinuance of the current trend of bombings may play as the ultimate bargaining chip from the militant end – nothing beyond.

The example of the Sri Lankan government in their civil-war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) focuses on the most basic and effective political model, which is a large scale terrorist organization’s defeat by the state military after a violent campaign that held the nation hostage for 26 years. For Pakistan to even match hopes for similar action against TTP, the civil-military bureaucracy has to function as a unified power in the process of national security. The suggestion asks for a mile more than mutually inconsistent views hailing from two separate institutions of thought on a matter of top priority.

Moreover, the APC’s persistently coined ‘consensus’ does not qualify as something of exact substance outside the closed doors of the meeting in the first place. No critically articulated agreement was passed in light of seeking approval from the parliament – which on record has never favored talks with the banned militant outfit – in order to initiate legitimate peace-seeking attempts with Taliban. Supposing, that on a glorious night, the peace-dialogue with the TTP is considered the most effective path forward, all supporting partners in the process would inevitably, violate article 256 of the constitution, which states “No private organization capable of functioning as a military organization shall be formed, and any such organization shall be illegal”. A case for Taliban’s incapability of functioning as a military organization would have to be formulated in order to prove the group’s legitimacy before the court – certainly not worth the trouble.

Thus, Pakistan needs to examine on-ground realities outside the restrictive frame of peace-seeking proposals to the Taliban as buying time with the militants is not the way forward. At the moment uncompromising hostility and massive killings deliver TTP’s response to a humble dialogue offer.

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