The outlawed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) has backed out on its earlier offer to engage in peace negotiations with the government of Pakistan, following a missile attack by a US pilotless plane in the country’s tribal region in North Waziristan a couple of days back, killing Waliur Rehman – the number two in TTP command.
There have been heated rounds of debate on many forums on whether these bird-look-alikes controlled and operated by satellite-backed state-of-the-art technology are in any way helping to quell the problem of militancy and terrorism or what is being termed by some analysts as its antithesis, believing the drone attacks are only adding fuel to the already raging fire.
The recent drone attack and the withdrawal of Taliban talks offer has sparked a fresh discussion in various circles and media, particularly, in the backdrop of US President Barack Obama’s announcement of their new policy on the use of drones.
It is important to mention here that as Pakistan prepared to go for its historic democratic transition of government, the TTP weeks before the May 11 polls declared democracy un-Islamic and also issued threats to a few political parties of the country, apparently for holding secular views. The parties that suffered the most in the ensuing deadly attacks were Awami National Party (ANP) followed by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
Was the drone attack timed to sabotage the Taliban peace talks, for which a consensus had almost evolved in Pakistan? If we consider this theory as true, then a question arises, whether or not it is in Pakistan’s interest to sit at the table with the armed-to-the-teeth group that doesn’t even give a slightest damn to the government’s writ or the country’s constitution.
Those who believe drone attacks are wrong because they are tantamount to violating the territorial integrity of Pakistan will have to come up with a strong justification for the presence of militants along the tribal region of the country – because the dangerously armed TTP is also a culprit of the same violation if not worse. The TTP men has not only killed thousands of Pakistani civilians as well as security personnel in deadly attacks, they have also been proudly claiming their full credit without any semblance of qualms.
Some major political parties of Pakistan and other analysts have also been strongly endorsing the idea of engaging in talks with the TTP. They believe that a negotiated settlement of the issue is the only solution to the problem at hand that is getting worse with time.
If it is really so, then who exactly should Pakistan government hold talks with? What would be the terms and conditions of such talks? Will these talks make the Taliban budge even a single inch from the position they have always dedicatedly and firmly clung to in terms of their set of beliefs and resolve to push their agenda?
Mazhar Bughio can be followed on Twitter @mazharbughio