Peace talks: a disastrous experiment

These conditions, if met, would render the sacrifices of 50,000 civilians and 10,000 security personnel in the war on terror wasted, leaving this country with a TTP-proposed government

The first round of talks between the government formed committee and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) committee, and the latter’s meeting with TTP representative Khalid Sheikh have finished. The TTP committee has told the media that the talks went well but the increase in suicide attacks and the target killings of civilians and security personnel paint a gloomy and different picture.
The federal government and TTP apologists have always claimed that the talks are for peace within the country. Really? Were the suicide attacks on polio workers and hand grenades being hurled at a cinema in Peshawar for peace? Do Pakistanis need that kind of peace? The TTP disowned and condemned the attacks, apparently to kill two birds with one stone: to continue the talks process only in name so as to be protected from US drones and kill those who were ever involved in any action against them. This provided every opportunity to TTP apologists to blame the attacks on a ‘third’ force. 
This time, there has been no US drone strike or the targeting of any notorious terrorist figure during the talks so far. Then why are civilians and security personnel frequently being attacked? TTP apologists have no answer to this. The TTP has ultimately lost patience and has claimed Thursday’s Karachi suicide attack. TTP apologists will certainly not be affected by this confession as their conscience has been dead a long time. They love their life and this world so much that they cannot even blame the terrorists for pushing the so-called talks towards failure.
Their brutal and barbaric acts indicate that the dialogue process between the government and the TTP is inching towards collapse. 
There have surfaced, through the Pakistani and the foreign media, the three preconditions by the TTP for the talks. These conditions, if met, would render the sacrifices of 50,000 civilians and 10,000 security personnel in the war on terror wasted, leaving this country with a TTP-proposed government. The conditions include the release of all TTP prisoners from Pakistani prisons, the withdrawal of security forces from the tribal areas and the handing over of the administrative control of FATA to the local tribal people.
These are just the preconditions at the very onset of the talks. It is believed that there are more than 4,000 TTP inmates in Pakistani prisons. Suppose they are all released but the talks fail — would our security forces be able to catch them again? Have we ever contemplated how the state of Pakistan will handle the situation if half of them then return as suicide bombers? This time, the infamous Lal Mosque cleric, Maulvi Abdul Aziz, threatened the state of Pakistan when he said that the TTP has 500 female suicide bombers in a bid to have all the TTP’s conditions met. 
The writ of the government has been established in the majority of FATA’s Agencies after long bouts of fighting and great sacrifices by the security forces. The troops’ withdrawal clearly means the establishment of TTP rule and none of the laws of the state of Pakistan can be applied. They have already destroyed hundreds of girls’ schools there and the fact that they have no respect for women is no secret.
Talks with these preconditions never produce results. Unproductive Indo-Pak talks are a glaring example. The TTP preconditions for the talks portray the same picture. The TTP preconditions are nothing more than an effort to revive and strengthen the militant organisation. The federal government is fully aware of this tactic but it is still taking forward the talks process, seen as an attempt to protect its leaders from terrorist attacks and buy some time for the government. This practice is very dangerous because it can compel the hapless and helpless masses to turn to the terrorists to save their lives by assessing the power of the TTP and the inaction of the government.
The word ‘Pakistan’ means the land of pure people. Are the terrorists ‘the pure people’? The terrorists’ brand of religion and their acts are anti-Pakistan and anti-Islamic. Pakistan and the terrorists cannot coexist. Pakistan has no place for the terrorists. The TTP preconditions for the talks imply that they want their demands fulfilled by force and on every level. The federal government’s so-called peace talks initiative is a disastrous experiment and sets a precedent that the state will hold talks with those forces that are capable of killing maximum civilians and security personnel. It is time that the federal government and TTP apologists decide whether they want Pakistan to be the land of the pure or the land of the terrorists.

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