Dialogue on counter-terrorism strategy
Posted by Javed Iqbal
Monday, July 15, 2013 – Countering terrorism is one of the main operational tasks, Pakistani security apparatus is undertaking since last over a decade against militants of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Though, there has been concentration of the jobless former Mujahedeen (later turned militants) along the Pak-Afghan border, who fought against the former Soviet Union, but, they never attacked Pakistani installations, its security apparatus or the Government.
It was only after 9/11, once Pakistan decided to become part of global campaign against terrorism under U.S and tried to flush out them from Tribal areas of Pakistan, that, these non-state elements started organized attacks against the security forces of Pakistan. In the so far fight against fugitive elements, re-named themselves as TTP in 2007, Pakistani casualties have reached to 42,000 with over 5000 personnel of security forces, who embraced shahadit. There have been many efforts of peace through dialogue between TTP and Government, but, at the end, no peace deal could ever succeed.
Why have there been failure in reaching over a long-term peace through dialogue is the biggest question to be answered. One leading and most acknowledged viewpoint is that, TTP comprises of obstinate elements, whose primary demand is that, Pakistan should stop supporting the U.S led ISAF in Afghanistan, before sitting across the table for negotiations. However, for Pakistan, perhaps it is difficult to pullout itself from this international obligation. Nevertheless, there have been many peace deals between TTP and Governments, which means there are reasons other than this common perception too, which indeed, slabs the peace process from taking place.
In this regards, there have been many conjectures that, United States and NATO is the major hurdle in striking a peace deal between the Government of Pakistan and Tehrik-e-Talban Pakistan (TTP). This argument is supported by the fact that, US visualizes that, if TTP ends its terrorists attack against the state of Pakistan and its institutions, it will re-direct focus of its attack on US and NATO forces alongside the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan. The view get strength from the fact that, U.S opposes all peace deals, took place between Pakistan Government and militants (later become TTP), right from 2004.
According to a recent report of Amir Mir, (the News International, February 6, 2013), “U.S warns Pakistan against signing peace deal with TTP.” The crux of the report is that, through its highest diplomatic channels, President Obama has warned Pakistani civil and military authorities against striking a deal with TTP.
The report also warned that, any deal with Pakistani Taliban at this stage “could invite the wrath of the US and might result in the suspension of military and economic assistance.” This harsh warning came amongst the rumours that, Pakistan is striking a secret deal with TTP, which offered dialogues with Government at about the same time. Perhaps, owing to US warnings, the Government of that time did not strike a deal with TTP. Later on, the frustrated TTP leadership also denounced the offer after the killing of one of its senior member Waliur Rehman, in a CIA driven drone attack. As indicative from the track record of US drone attacks, any TTP militant, who desired to broker a deal with the Government or military establishment was killed, anyhow.
In the so far history of Pakistan’s fighting against terrorism, the militants of TTP have proved deadly for the state of Pakistan and its armed forces. They have reached over to military installations; Army, Navy and Air Force. They have targeted Government installations and did not spare the innocent civilians’ including the Muslims while offering prayers. How can they label themselves with the Islam and Islamic ideology? What type of Islam, they are preaching. Indeed, from their behavior and anti-Islamic acts, one can easily find out that, their all acts are against the basic essence of Islam. Then the question arises, what are their motives. Evidently; anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam. Then whose purpose TTP is fulfilling? Surely, not Pakistani ones. We have to find the forces behind these militants and can we combat them or fight them indefinitely.
As evident, Pakistani security, forces are combating terrorism of TTP and its allies as a continuous process since last one decade. TTP is a non-state actor, fighting against the well-trained and well-equipped Army. Whereas, the Army and other security forces are facing budgetary constraints, there is no dearth of finances and sophisticated weaponry to TTP. The question arises, after all, who supports them with un-interrupted finances and weaponry. Surely, those forces and powers, who want them to fight against the state of Pakistan and do not bother them in Afghanistan. What to talk of TTP, even Afghan militants have been motivated to launch regular and irregular attacks along the Pak-Afghan border.
Once Pakistan has all the evidences as to who promote terrorism in the country and through whom, then, why should the stakeholders remain dormant. The best way forward is create awareness among the people, especially the affected areas and engage them through dialogue process. The youth being used as tool have to be made aware about the conspiracy of global powers and its consequences. After all, “There comes a point in any serious peace process when the enemies have to become partners; you have a common aim and you have to decide how to get there. That is what happened with the IRA and the British government.
The British government had to do things that it would not naturally do, but which helped the IRA to persuade its radical wing that it was worth negotiating. There were people on the radical republican wing who were outside of the peace process and the IRA then became the group who knew who those people were.” The people at the helm of affairs should find a place for the dialogue and negotiations with militants (TTP in this case) in the National Counter Terrorism Strategy, being formulated since last few years. Fighting terrorist blindly would increase their strength and influence, which is the desire of TTP sponsors.(Dr Muhammad Khan)