The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has allegedly proposed to hold peace talks with the government. Although the government has denied any such effort, I can’t help but wonder – if such talks did in fact occur, will they prove to be successful? History tells that peace accords like <i>The Shakai Peace Agreement</i> (2004), <i>Sararogha Agreement</i> (2005) and <i>Wana Agreement</i> (2007) only gave time and opportunity to militants to reintegrate, reevaluate and operationalize acts of terrorism with greater synchrony.
In my view, TTP’s fight is power driven unlike the Afghan Taliban’s movement which is liberation driven. Thus, one wonders why TTP wants to negotiate with the government now, after wreaking havoc at the cost of innocent lives. One factor could be the diminishing support from the locals of FATA. For instance, the sermon delivered Abu Zar (a militant from Myanmar), in Waziristan during the Friday prayers received an inhospitable response from the tribesmen.
Another factor could be the lack of leadership. The TTP no longer seems united, especially after the controversial “contest” for the post of chief after the alleged killing of Baitullah Mehsud in 2009. As a result of losing their founder, ideological conflicts could be seen within the group, as it was reported a couple of months back that Fazal Saeed Haqqani who trained and led TTP commanders in the Kurram Agency, split from the founding group on the subject of bombing mosques and civilians. He then formed a group of his own called <i>“Tehrik-e-Taliban Islami”.</i> A split between the organization shows some fragments of the group tilting towards fighting the state to achieve political ends while others are out on the mission to impose <i>sharia</i>. There are infightings over who wants what and these two factors show that the group is losing its essence.
Should the Pakistani government decide to engage in talks with the militants, they must keep their previous record into account. They must also keep in mind that the relationship between the two will always lack trust, given the unpredictable nature of the latter. It is possible that the militants are looking to raise their stakes in the “peace talks”, by demanding the government to cut alliance with the United States and allow free movement ofTTPmembers in the country. These demands are unlikely to be met by the government as they will not only come under pressure by the United States (already pressurizing Pakistan to do more) but also by the people of Pakistan who have lost their loved ones at the hands of the militants.
The element of surprise gives these militants an upper hand. Calling upon the government for peace accords and breaking them depends upon their flow of events. Who knows whether they have parted ways due to conflict or divided only to re-unite.
Peace does not come without losing something to the other side. In this case, the TTP does not have much to lose; rather the Pakistani government is the one who will lose out domestically and internationally in order to make peace with the militants.