Talks with TTP, Learning from the Past Mistakes
December 16, 2011
After 10 years of deadly war in Afghanistan, the United States and its allies finally come to a conclusion that there is no military solution of Afghan deadlock. Americans are striving hard to negotiate with Taliban but no extraordinary success has been achieved so far.
Pakistan realizing this fact, that there is no military solution to this problem and have taken decision in the APC to negotiate with Pakistan based Taliban and decided to give peace a chance. Pakistan has signed many peace deals with the Pakistani Taliban in past. Keeping in mind previous bitter experiences Pakistan Government and military should devise a comprehensive strategy to make these talks fruitful and establish peace in volatile trial areas.
Now the issue is to identify the core group for talks. Because after the sustained military operations by the Pakistan armed force and continuous drone strikes mainstream leadership of TTP is on run, hiding in Afghanistan or in FATA. There are many splinter groups now, which are operating independently.
Pakistan government should take tribal elders of the area into confidence and Local people should also be on board, only then we can expect any long term peace and stability in FATA.
Other important issue in talks would be “agenda setting”, it means we have to analyse possible demands by the TTP. First, they may ask the government to allow them to enforce their own style “Sharia” in FATA. Secondly, cessation of military operations, third, release of their cronies in Pakistani custody, fourth, they may also ask the government to allow them to take part in Afghan war against Americans, and lastly they may ask for millions of rupees in compensation of their losses in last ten years.
After these demands ‘ball will be in government’s court’. Now the question is can government allow them to impose their own style rigid Islam in FATA and subjugate people of these areas again. Government should never allow such zealots to enforce their own style of Sharia in tribal areas. If it is popular demand of the people then government can introduce Swat like Islamic courts for speedy justice. Well Educated religious scholars can be inducted to run the affairs in FATA. But giving power to such uneducated, backward and amateurish people like TTP will backfire and plunge the region into further instability and turmoil.
If they ask for pause in military operations then government should take this thing in way that such pause will not give them chance to regroup or recover from the losses. Military must continue intelligence based operations to continuously keep them under pressure. Major concern for Pakistan would be to stop them from taking part in war against foreign forces in Afghanistan. It would be difficult for Pakistan to stop these groups from crossing Afghan border. Americans would definitely increase their drone strikes against these people, cross border raids in hot pursuit may also increase in future. In such conditions there would be immense pressure on Pakistan to take on these groups or face isolation in the world. It is crucial for the Pakistani decision makers to play their cards wisely and come up with an amicable solution of this quandary. Pakistan government and military commanders must consider all these issues and also prepare for their implications. Any dialogue process should be long-lasting and should protect rights of the local population and national interests of Pakistan.