Pakistan and TTP’s Peace Talks

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A state’s behavior is always unpredictable and no one can ascertain its exact future intentions; it will always pursue its interests. Pakistan has recently decided to hold talks with the Taliban. The Pakistani Taliban (TTP), has been a serious threat to Pakistan for more than a decade. They have conducted a large number of deadly attacks on Pakistani security agencies and the common people. After conducting several successful intense military operations against them, the Pakistani authorities have decided to settle their matters with the Taliban in a peaceful manner.   

In the past, Pakistan attempted several times to make peace with the various factions of the TTP,; unfortunately, those attempts failed due to a number of reasons. It was either the terrorists or certain Pakistani political parties who created hurdles in those talks. For instance, the Pakistani establishment made an effort to make a peace deal with the Swati Taliban, in which late Maulana Sofi Muhammad of TNSM (Tahreek Nifaz–i-Shariati Muhammadi) mediated between the two parties. Unfortunately, the outcomes of those talks were not as desired, as the Taliban were seriously involved in violating the terms and conditions of the peace agreement. Similarly, the provincial government of the Awami National Party (ANP) and the central government of Pakistan at the time, the Peoples Party (PPP), also committed some delays in decision making which further worsened the situation; resultantly, the negotiations failed and the security forces launched a successful military operation against the terrorist outfits.

However, the question is, why is it necessary to talk with the TTP terrorists again, at a time when they are on a weak footing and Pakistan holds a strong ground against them. There are a number of factors that help make sense of this.

After 15th August this year, when the Afghan Taliban came into power, many adhered to wrong speculation that the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan would crush the TTP as they are opposing entities. But the reality contrasts with the assumptions, as the Afghan Taliban not only have cultural, religious and social ties with the TTP, but the latter greatly assisted the former in the war against the Western forces. Moreover, during the Taliban raid on various prisons a few months ago in Afghanistan, several hundred terrorists of TTP were freed, strengthening the TTP’s position to a great extent.  The Afghan Taliban is not ready to launch military operations against the TTP as both groups enjoy cordial relations with one another. Moreover, the Afghan Taliban are facing multi-dimensional security, economic, political and diplomatic threats. Such circumstances would keep the new regime from taking such decisive military actions. Therefore, the smart approach is to engage the TTP in talks, through the Afghan Taliban for fruitful proceedings.

The war on terror was purely a United States’ initiative; unfortunately, Pakistan was dragged into the war, despite the fact that there was neither any Pakistani involvement nor any Pakistani facilitation in 9/11. The country then witnessed two decades of violence, the loss of more than seventy thousand civilians and security personnel, an immense decline in economy and disastrous situations in almost every sector of life. But the situation has greatly shifted now. America had intervened in Afghanistan in an ultra-aggressive mode and lost ground. The United States concluded a peace deal with the Taliban it once labeled as terrorists, fundamentalists and human rights violators. Moreover, this is an era of economic interdependence, multilateral trade and globalization, where no state can either afford or want a constant war. In such a situation, Pakistan definitely needs to resolve the issue permanently with the TTP once and for all. For getting the desired results in terms of sustainable economy in the future, from CPEC and increased Chinese economic influence in the region, it is extremely important for Pakistan to conclude a long lasting peace deal with the TTP.

For those who are opposing the peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, it is necessary to understand that it is a completely different and miscalculated approach to analyze the situation from an ultra-urban setting. It makes no sense to refuse peace talks with TTP while living a luxurious life in Islamabad, Karachi or Lahore, enjoying the protocol of an MNA or the political party leadership. The leadership of these left wing parties neither know nor feel the exact situation of those areas which are always near the border and are exposed to terrorist attacks. In a situation, when the life of common people and security personnel are at constant risk and there are no other viable options, it is best to make a peace deal with the TTP. Moreover, Pakistan is enjoying the upper hand against the terrorists as they were successfully evicted from the country; therefore Pakistan can gain maximum from these peace talks and can permanently settle the TTP’s threat.           

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About Barkat Ullah 7 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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