Future of the Peace Talks with TTP

Since the beginning of the insurgencies in the northwestern parts of Pakistan, the security establishment has conducted intense military operations on one hand and attempted peaceful negotiations on the other. There have been several attempts of peace talks in the past undertaken alongside the hard core military strategies of the Pakistani security forces. However, these talks did not attain long-lasting and sustainable results due to a number of reasons. Most recently, the establishment launched negotiations with the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban, in which Afghanistan’s administration is playing a mediatory role. Despite several positive gestures from both sides, there are a number of national and international constraints which bring these peace talks into a very complex and ambiguous position. Such circumstances minimize the chances of a result-oriented outcome of the talks.

In a situation when the Afghan Taliban govern Afghanistan and the US allied forces have exited the land-locked country, a fruitful negotiation with the TTP is the need of the hour. However, Pakistan faces severe international pressure in this regard and comes across a number of hurdles when dealing with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Pakistan has been put under monitoring several times under the banner of the FATF and has been blamed for insufficient measures against terrorist organizations. Currently, the TTP is declared a banned organization by the government of Pakistan. One of the major demands of the TTP negotiation team is that this ban be lifted. It also demands for a safe settlement of their armed groups on Pakistani territory.  Keeping the militancy of the past and pressure of international organizations in mind, it will be nearly impossible for Pakistan to fulfil the mentioned demands. Further, the US will have a strong influence on the talks as it has pushed Pakistan on ‘Do More’ numerous times in the matter of dealing with terrorist organizations.

Similarly, the deepest and most impactful relation and alliance is that of the common ideology and shared sentiments. The TTP and the Afghan Taliban have a close and strong bond of religion, ideas and brotherhood. Although it is a fact that the Afghan Taliban are pushing the TTP for a peaceful settlement with the Pakistan, yet they will never want to fully weaken their ideological ally. Currently, the Afghan regime is politically isolated; therefore, it is greatly dependent on Pakistan. Keeping its weak, isolated and dependent position on Pakistan at the forefront, the Afghan Taliban have no other choice but to compel the TTP on the table talks. But one thing is for sure, that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan will definitely want engagement with the other regional power in order to decrease its dependency on Pakistan, which is directly proportional to its independence in decision making. The statement of Mullah Yaqoob, the Afghan Defense Minister, regarding interaction with India is a major example in this regard. Once the Taliban minimize dependence on Pakistan, they may think otherwise regarding the matter of TTP.

There are several factions within the TTP which believe in an extreme approach against Pakistan. For instance, Abdul Wali aka Omar Khalid Khorasani holds a strong influence on certain groups of the TTP and is one of the founding members of the organization; he is known for his strong opposition towards the recent talks. Although he remains silent at this time, he has always advocated a harsh approach against Pakistani security forces.  Similarly, a number of fighters have detached from the TTP and are allied with the Islamic State of Khorasan IS-K. Overall the IS-K will never want a constructive peace deal between Pakistan and the TTP, as it would leave the hard core Salafi group extremely vulnerable.    

More importantly, there are several internal constraints which will be prove to be major obstacles for a permanent settlement between the TTP and Pakistan. For instance, the Pakistani Taliban’s conditions of reducing the number of the security forces in the tribal areas and a reversal of the FATA Merger, are matters which cannot be addressed in a black and white manner. Pakistan has a number of strategic, social and political objectives; therefore, it can neither reduce its troops nor reverse the merger. Moreover, there are certain political forces and public voices which have their concerns about the recent peace talks between TTP and security establishment. These aspects may be barriers in concluding a long term and effective peace deal with the TTP, and things will become clearer in the coming weeks.

Future of the Peace Talks with TTP

About Barkat Ullah 9 Articles
The author is doing his master’s in international Relations. He resides in Islamabad and has a wide experience of writing for newspapers.

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