Kausar Fatima looks at a contentious issue
It is reported that the Difficult aspects of parleys with TTP are proceeding ahead between the government and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with the intention to resolve the virtual state of conflict between them. TTP has been operating on the terrorist fringe since the last fifteen years creating difficulties for successive governments of Pakistan. Pakistani security forces were consistently engaged to quell the armed disturbance created by the TTP particularly in the north-west of the country. It was also reported throughout the years that TTP acted as an adversary to the Pakistani establishment that it was covertly supported by the official and non-official elements located in Afghanistan sometimes creating bad blood between both the countries. Quite naturally the Afghan side always denied any such support rendered to the TLP but there were evident signs of collaboration.
After the fall of the Afghan government propped up by US-led coalition in Kabul, the TTP emerged as one of the leading parts of the current regime in Afghan and its leadership was publicly seen associating with the ruling group operating in Kabul. Intriguingly the incumbent Kabul regime released political prisoners held by the previous government without taking Pakistani authorities in confidence causing quite a lot of apprehensions as it was not something expected of a regime that was considered favourable towards Pakistan. Not only was this factor complicated by the issue but it soon became evident that Pakistani areas bordering Afghanistan started experiencing renewal of terrorist activities in the area.
It was widely reported that attacks against law-enforcement agencies surged compared to last year when the banned militant Islamic State group’s Khorasan chapter (IS-K) was carrying out most of such attacks. In this context it was mentioned that the TTP issued around 35 threats to attack law-enforcement agencies in the current month and the IS-K three only. The Pakistani law-enforcer pointed out that the IS-K appeared to be less of a threat in future as its roots lied in the Middle East. It was mentioned that the TTP claimed martyring over 40 security personnel during this period that were not just true but confirmed their intentions.
The current reports of the parleys have been received with plenty of skepticism as it is widely believed that even if peace efforts become fruitful they will provide only temporary or partial respite to the security institutions as it is never the intention of any fringe group to join the national mainstream against its avowed stance and it would be a folly to presume that TTP will leave its extremist agenda and radically transform itself. Keeping in view this factor, many segments of the country consider such parleys as not very beneficial to Pakistan’s cause. It is precisely due to this factor that the talks have become quite unpopular in the country. Many assert that the state must not negotiate anything less than the surrender of the terrorists as against the belief of the security institutions that put forward the stance that the group is already defeated.
There is also an additional reservation expressed in respect of the assumption that peace with the TTP will bring stability to the tribal region and help manage the borders with Afghanistan as it is strongly pointed out many disgruntled members and factions within the TTP could splinter to either form one or more new groups or join the Islamic State’s Khorasan chapter (IS-K), which has already intensified its terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. It is also pointed out that certain groups within the TTP apparatus are in alliance with Haqqani network and it is not clear that how Haqqanis can protect the interests of Pakistan.
While judging the relationship between the Haqqani network and the TTP it must be kept in view that the Haqqanis openly acknowledge the so-called sacrifices made by the TTP for the Afghan Taliban though it insisted that they would not pressurise the TTP in the ongoing talks between the group and the Pakistani government. Keeping in view the murky state of relationship between the TTP and the Haqqani network the expectations that the group will come to a mutually accepted solution with the Pakistani authorities appear simply quite overstretched a notion and cannot be relied upon.
Looking at the negotiations from the perspective of TTP they are insistent on reversing the merger of FATA that, in a way, is challenging the writ of Pakistani state and is not even worth considering let alone talking about. The TTP demand of enforcement of the Sharia in Malakand and its extension to the tribal districts clearly brings to fore the TTP’s willingness to operate a parallel administrative structure and such tendency could prove fatal for the homogeneous exercise of authority in the country. The more worrying aspect is that Pakistani security institutions are also displaying an acute insensitivity to this crucial matter without realising the harrowing consequences it may entail. Before committing any future course of action with the TTP it should be kept in view that Pakistan has achieved outstanding success in controlling and practically defeating terrorism and any peace with TTP will reverse all efforts of the last almost two decades.TW