Peace with TTP at what cost? | By Tariq Aqil


Peace with TTP at what cost?

THE Taliban victory in Afghanistan was greeted with applause and praise by Imran Khan who after the hasty withdrawal of the American forces opined that the Taliban have “broken the shackles of slavery” The PTI and its Chairman have always supported and agreed with the political agenda of the Taliban and have always advocated peace talks and a negotiated settlement with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

Immediately after the fall of Kabul the PTI government initiated a dialogue with the TTP to convince them to lay down arms and stop their acts of terrorism against the state institutions but the talks remained inconclusive and the TTP intensified their armed incursions from their safe havens in Afghanistan.

In recent times the social media has again buzzed with news of negotiations with the TTP. The powerful establishment appears to be in favour of such talks but the PPP and the ANP, partners in the ruling coalition have their reservations and have demanded a debate in Parliament to eventually lead to a parliamentary oversight of any negotiations with the Taliban.

Marium Aurangzeb, the Federal Information Minister, during a recent press conference confirmed the reports of the current peace talks between the government and the banned Tehreek-i-Pakistan or TTP.

The demands of the TTP are nothing new. They are adamant that the Pakistan army must withdraw from the tribal areas, the merged tribal areas with the KP must revert back to their old positions as federally administered areas and the immediate enforcement of the Islamic Sharia through the Nizam-i-Adl regulations in Swat and Malakand and subsequently in the entire country.

As a gesture of goodwill and to appease the Taliban the present government has already released a number of high ranking TTP militants and has agreed to give safe passage to TTP leaders for entry into Pakistan in exchange for the TTP agreeing to a ceasefire and joining mainstream politics in Pakistan.

Hoping that the Taliban will give up their political agenda and lay down arms is nothing but a pipe dream.

Pakistan is a sovereign and constitutional democracy and an independent modern state and as such no militant group or leader of any armed insurgent faction has the right to dictate where the government can base its army units.

It must also be noted that the TTP as of today is a motley group of a rag tag armed militants numbering around 4000 persons under the protection of the Afghan government.

This group of blood thirsty religious fanatics has extinguished the life of over 800000 Pakistanis including 8000 personnel of the defence forces.

It must not be forgotten that the “Shariah Nizam-e-adl Regulation, 2009 to provide Nifaz-e-Nizam-e-Shariat-Mohammadi through courts of law in the Provincially administered Tribal Areas under an agreement with the TTP have already been enforced in Malakand.

It should also be noted that Pakistan is an Islamic Republic and no laws can be passed against Quran and Sunnah.

All penal laws and personel laws are in accordance with Islamic provisions. The frequency and ferocity of armed incursions by the TTP has increased after the Taliban takeover in Kabul and the increased attacks on the Pakistan army definitely shows that the government of Pakistan has started peace talks after accepting the power and increased presence of the TTP in Pakistan and the growing losses have become too costly for the country.

The TTP launched 282 attacks on the Pakistan army in 2021 and in the first three months of 2022 ninety seven soldiers of the army were martyred in clashes with the TTP.

In April 2022 the TTP had the audacity to attack a Pakistani army convoy and martyr seven soldiers and this was a part of the Taliban spring offensive called “ALBadr” Starting peace talks at a time when there is a great spike in terror and violence sends a clear signal that the TTP is now militarily stronger.

The TTP will now gain greater confidence when the state has started peace talks after the launch of their spring offensive.

Today the state of Pakistan is in a very strong position against the Taliban as compared to the period of 2006-2014 when the Taliban ruled the roost and the state had lost its writ in certain parts of the country.

Now the Taliban do not command the space, support or backing of the people and the media that they did previously and it will not be possible for them to operate in Pakistan if a proper check is kept on them.

The government of the day now is in a position to force the Taliban to abide by the law of the land and missing this opportunity will be a criminal act.

Any truce with the Taliban will only be temporary and will definitely prove counterproductive in the long run.

Peace with the Taliban is fraught with grave risks and dangers. If the TTP is recognized as a legitimate political force they will be free to operate in the country, reorganize themselves, garner more recruits, train and equip their fighters, mange mass support in the people and the media.

The resurgence of the TTP will enable them to launch their political agenda of religious fanaticism bloodshed and obscurantism.

—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.


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