Barter peace with a piece of land: Surgical strikes or tactical strikes in North Waziristan have been suspended?
Agha Iqrar Haroon
Now Pakistan as a State has a clear resolve that Peace Talks are must with Taliban. This is a big and positive development that Parliament has been taken into confidence about what leadership in power is thinking to resolve the issues. Some political philosophers believe that peace talks are the only key for peace. Some political scientists are of the view that peace talks are impossible with extremists who follow a set of religious beliefs and they fight for their beliefs because they will never change their beliefs and will never leave their path of armed resistance. However, you can change your beliefs and follow the beliefs of extremists for fixing a peace. “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies” said Moshe Dayan an Israeli military leader and politician in one of his interview in Newsweek (17 October 1977). Palestine is a perfect example for negotiations, dialogue, peace talks where peace has never been obtained during the last half a century because both parties are fighting for their religious beliefs not only for a piece of land.
When I wrote my article dated Jan 20, 2014 titled “Blast Near GHQ Rawalpindi: Killing Spree –: Taliban strike Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi within 24 hours of their last attack on Army in Bannu”, majority of my friends were annoyed with me. They had serious reservations about my headline, intro and even content of my article. My friends who know me from Government College Lahore (way back 1982) used indecent phrases for me by calling me on phone (old friends have this right actually–smile). Those who worked with me in The Nation, Frontier Post and The News asked me “Are you ok?” etc etc. My readers, my colleagues and my friends and those who know me were shocked that why I appreciated Taliban so much and praised them. However my seniors with whom I had been working called me and appreciated me about my honesty and my insight about the entire issue engulfing terrorism in Pakistan.
I had gut feeling that government would move backward and action against Taliban would be suspended, stopped, postponed if ever any action would be initiated by security agencies. I had feelings that government would go for dialogue and negotiations with Taliban instead of announcing “War” against them. Why government is not ready for war against Taliban? This question is complex and does have a set of answers. I was waiting for the decision of Parliament about how to tackle terrorism, so now I am writing when Pakistani Parliament has formed a four-member committee comprising of Maj. ® Amir, an old friend of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and close ally of Taliban and of course a former member of ISI team handling Islamists in the region, Rustam Shah Mahmond who is also known for his contacts with Taliban leadership, Rahimullah Yousifzai, a senior journalist and Irfan Saddique, a known right wing journalist who is also an advisor to the prime minister for security issues. This is a positive development that all members of this committee belong to one sect—the same sect –Taliban belong. This is also very positive that they all are close to Taliban so they are in better position to negotiate, discuss and talk about sensitive issues with higher level of confidence on each other.
This committee was formed hurriedly and some hours before the speech of Prime Minister to parliament on Jan 29, 2014. Rahimullah Yousifzai when contacted told that Prime Minister contacted him today morning and informed about his role in the committee and committee was announced on the floor of the house after some hours. This committee will work for providing a bridge between Taliban leadership and higher authorities of government of Pakistan.
Taliban leadership has accepted this committee for negotiation and appreciated that government had come on table for talks. Taliban announced their eagerness for talks with a statement that Taliban attacked at Rangers headquarters today in Karachi. What a perfect strategy of Taliban—pushing State to the wall and putting more pressure on security agencies to accept their demands.
Why government is following the path of dialogue and negotiations with Taliban? This question has multiple possible answers or propositions including:
States is scare with the power of Taliban who can attack anybody, anytime and anywhere. They are spread all over the country and government has no available data about them. Intelligence sources claim that 25,000 trained, armed and committed Taliban are living in urban areas of the country.
Saudi Arabia has successfully managed to negotiate with Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Army as broker for Taliban for providing a chance to Taliban to enter into main stream politics by stopping armed resistance.
Right wing Pakistan Muslim League of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif was supported by Taliban during 2013 general elections when Taliban allowed only right wing parties for campaigning and attacked left wing parties during campaigning and killed their leaders. Taliban have high hopes that Mian Nawaz Sharif government will help them to install Shariah in some parts of the country. Therefore government is thinking to provide physical space to Taliban (as previous government did by allowing Shariah in Swat valley) and buying peace from them. This time government can offer tribal areas for installing Shariah laws.
Government wants to give a chance to Taliban to talk and believes that Taliban will not accept constitution of Pakistan and then government will be in position to attack them and there is possibility that right wing parties like Imran Khan, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Munawar Hassan will support government.
Government wishes peace a chance and honestly believes that Taliban will accept the writ of the State of Pakistan.
Government and security agencies are victim of “Fatigue” and do not want to engage in war against Taliban.
There are serious threats to the families of politicians from Taliban and out of fear negotiations are going to be held.
Government has felt that security forces are not capable to win this war and Taliban are much better in the field comparing to our security agencies.
Since there is no timetable or conditions are fixed for talks therefore Taliban have moral right to keep attacking our security forces, public, schools, hospitals, graveyards, shrines and anywhere they wish to attack. There is one positive development out all exercise, ambiguity is now disappearing and clarity is coming up in position of government and Taliban for each other.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has informed security forces that no decision on launching an offensive in Waziristan would be taken without consensus of all stakeholders and any such decision would be taken in the best national interest. Therefore surgical strikes or tactical strikes in North Waziristan have been suspended. The PM said this during a meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif who called on him at the Prime Minister’s House on Tuesday. This indicates that civil and military leadership is on one page—-Negotiate peace with Taliban.