ISLAMABAD: The unilateral ceasefire by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has brought a temporary relief from violence across the country, but the larger picture of freeing people from the scourge of terrorism remains as blurred as it was before.
Not surprisingly, the local Taliban elements have punished many people in the tribal areas as well as beyond in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province who opposed them or had failed to follow their orders and instructions. Having an effective network of spying, Taliban have zero tolerance for their adversaries. They have carried out exemplary punishments to people who failed to meet their demands.
Fearing that any word of criticism would reach the ears of the Taliban, people in the tribal areas avoid talking against them in public.
“They have their informers everywhere and whosoever says anything against them, their informers bring it in notice of their leaders, who further take action against them,” said an elderly person of Daur tribe, hailing from Mir Ali town in North Waziristan. While the TTP runs the day-to-day affairs of people in the tribal region, including settlement of their decades-old disputes related to civil and criminal matters, they have also established their niche in the adjoining areas by targeting people who refuse or ignore their demands.
In the last few months, several people, including doctors and businessmen, were targeted in Peshawar and other parts of KP who refused to pay ransom demanded by the Taliban. They communicate their orders and instructions to the masses through pamphlets, letters and phone calls.
A number of interviews conducted by Daily Times with tribesmen from the tribal areas living in Islamabad and Peshawar revealed that if the Taliban want to convey a general message or order to be followed by any community, they distribute pamphlets. If they warn any individual, they send a letter or make a phone call.
Since the initiation of talks with the local Taliban, several observers believe that the government has not clearly expressed its objectives, which it aims to achieve from engaging them in talks.
“The government needed to have adopted a strong position. It should have sent a strong message clearly declaring establishment of government’s writ, end to terrorism, and general amnesty for the Taliban who renounce violence as preconditions for talks,” says Mehmood Shah, a retired brigadier and defence analyst. “We have not heard from the government so far that it has stressed these issues,” he said, adding that the government had not even thought about the security of its nominees before sending them for talks with armed Taliban fighters who took them to a remote area in Orakzai Agency for a meeting with their leaders.
The ongoing conflict in the tribal areas has brought about major social, political and economic changes in the tribal society and parts of KP, with people still trying to adjust their lives in accordance with the new developments.
“Music is strictly forbidden in public gatherings. People have to think twice before inviting musicians to ceremonies, like weddings,” said a resident of Mir Ali.
Several Pashto singers, musicians and dancers were killed by the Taliban since the war on terror commenced in the region, with many more fleeing for safe abode outside Pakistan to avoid the wrath of the Taliban.
By granting respite to people through a unilateral truce, the TTP has proved its point that it holds the key to peace in Pakistan.
For a time being, they have linked the cessation of violence to several demands, including release of their combatant and non-combatant members allegedly imprisoned by the state, and giving them free space to operate in South Waziristan Agency.
If one of these demands cannot be met in the next few days, the ‘talk mantra’ cannot move forward. This was the message that has been conveyed to the nation by the state and the Taliban negotiators after they held their first direct talks with the Taliban.
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