Towards a familiar cul de sac


The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) seems unsure if it will continue with the detente it has brokered with the government. The one month ceasefire has expired with no renewal so far in sight. There is deep suspicion in the ranks of the TTP about the government’s sincerity. The TTP’s demands of releasing non-combatant prisoners and removing the army from FATA have had a mixed response. The government has accepted the military’s advice pertaining to partial rejection of the former and total rejection of the latter demand. As far as the demand of releasing non-combatant prisoners is concerned, the TTP list has grown from 300 to now 800. Some 11 Mehsud prisoners have been released by the government yesterday, that too without the quid pro quo of the release of prisoners by the TTP. And a faction of the TTP has issued the threat of pulling out all the stops to attack the government if it does not get its way.
Sources contend that the ceasefire has been achieved by diverting the energies of the TTP towards the greater game in Afghanistan and not through any genuine compromise. If this is how things are being dealt with, the expectation that Pakistan would eventually distance itself from Afghanistan’s internal politics seems more distant than ever. It does not seem we are sincere to the idea of an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned solution. It is turning out that the assurances we have been giving to the international audience of our intent to first put our house in order messed up because of our fingers in the Afghan pie, were mere rhetoric. It now also seems the lessons we should have learnt about the homegrown terrorism that has literally torn the country apart have quickly been forgotten in the renewed push for a (Taliban) government in Kabul of our choice. As the time draws near for the US-led NATO forces’ withdrawal from the region, our policy of intervention through proxies in Afghanistan is gaining traction. Deflecting the TTP’s attention from Pakistan by getting them engaged in Afghan affairs expects us to allow the organization to retain control over the sanctuaries established to recruit, train and export terrorists across the border. So instead of getting rid of the terrorists we are helping them to entrench themselves deeper. The rising political temperature in Afghanistan marked by a series of deadly attacks on the eve of the presidential elections in Afghanistan is being linked with the (temporary?) silencing of the guns in Pakistan. If that be the reality, Pakistan’s future seems to be returning to a familiar cul de sac.  *

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Aaj Kal