For a Government as well as a soldier peace is the ultimate desire. No war plan is complete that fails to see through and beyond the end game. And all horrors of war must culminate into peace and that is what the 16th Century jurists believed that end of war must bring peace under conditions acceptable to both sides irrespective of winners and losers. The message was lost to the World at Versailles in 1918 and while signing the peace treaty unwittingly laid the foundation for WWII.
The recent peace initiative launched by the Government is a welcoming step towards a stable Pakistan. War against terrorism has been a long drawn affair, stretching the military to its maximum; with unabated hostilities and the results are far from the horizon. TTP is also feeling the pressure with no outside recognition and an uncertain future both for the Front as well as its leadership. The intransigent attitude of the TTP will surely put them in hot waters as soon as the coalition forces vacate Afghanistan and Pakistan Army de-inducts from FATA. Post Dec 2014 period will seriously challenge the raison d’etre of TTP in FATA even within its own ranks and may lead into infighting for control over constituencies , resources etc. The inherent mistrust among the tribes, hitherto dormant due to a united front against the so-called infidels, will resurface to every ones bane inviting surgical strikes by Pakistan military to eliminate the left overs. Thus the future of a stable Pakistan as well as survival of TTP cadres depends on the success of the planned peace initiative. Failure now means more fighting this time in North Waziristan; especially around Mirali and Geriyum, a new wave of suicide attacks/bomb explosions throughout the country and loss of thousands of innocent lives; with economy getting worst.
Before going into a dialogue motion both sides must set the rules of engagement e.g. should dialogue be directly between the Government and TTP or a Jirga will be formed to act as an intermediary between the two sides. In FATA a traditional Jirga with equal and sincere representation has always being the most effective way to resolve disputes. Will the dialogue be held under environment of peace or hostilities, in other words should we follow US-Taliban model or cap all hostilities during the period of dialogue. Situation between US and Afghan Taliban is different as US is an occupying force in Afghanistan thus fighting and dialogue is going side by side; however, situation in case of Pakistan and TTP is different. The people of Pakistan deserve peace before anything else. How to mitigate and continue the peace process under drone strikes will remain a key issue for the ultimate success. TTP needs to be taken into confidence on this issue and Confidence Building will only be strengthened if Pakistan vigorously and sincerely takes drone issue to UN. Should the dialogue remains restricted to TTP of FATA or Swat Taliban should also be included who have taken refuge in Afghanistan and are not very responsive to TTP. Swat Taliban seems to be least interested in peace deal as evident from shahadat of General Sana Ullah (though owned by TTP (FATA) but then they also owned attack on Malala and later retracted); they are working on a foreign agenda against Pakistan’s interests. Moreover, Swat is not part of FATA as such Swat Taliban may be dealt separately. No military build up from both sides and repositioning during period of dialogue just to reinforce Confidence Building; this can be ensured through Jiraga members. Importantly, the Government has to evolve rules to keep media speculation in check as well as to discourage peace initiative detractors (this can only happen if media avoid detractors may it be their own anchors). Government may hold an in camera briefing for the media stake holders and explain the sensitivity of the issue and request for a more mature media coverage after getting necessary clarifications from Ministry of Information. Even ISPR may be barred from giving any independent statement on the subject. As against a running commentary one may keep the process more discrete and only the final outcome be made public for debates, views etc.
The dialogue may not have pre conditions and let the Jirga decide the agenda after getting input from the two sides. Agenda points may include cross border terrorism, terrorist sanctuaries, South Africa type reconciliation process or the concept of Pashtunwali, introduction of Political Act in FATA, revival of Masharans / elders, revival of Political Agent and his authority, gradual de-induction of Army first to main bases in FATA, and subsequently to respective peace locations stretching till end 2014, opening of schools/colleges without gender bias, no check posts by either side and free flow of traffic and business be allowed, actions against violators of peace environment during the dialogue, undertakings for free travel/safety/security of Jirga members, revival of development works under Government, release of prisoners and many other issues deemed appropriated by the two sides as well as the Jirga.
Issues like constitution, disarmament, FATA Act 1903, war lords etc will automatically get addressed when political parties set its roots in FATA. The crux of this whole exercise including the political dispensation is the dissolution of TTP. Is the stage set for discussing this crucial issue during the Jirga or should one wait till after 2014? Or should this matter be linked with the phasing out of Pakistan Army from FATA? One needs to tread this issue with great care and caution. Militant commanders draw their strength from the concept of TTP; will they be willing to forgo this pedestal of power? Any quick solution to this jigsaw puzzle may compromise the whole peace initiative and the interested parties may prepare themselves for the bitter end at the peril of great distress and agony to Pakistan and its citizens.
The success of this peace drive depends on the sincerity of the Government (this includes security forces) and willingness of the Taliban for peace. This may be the last opportunity for the TTP for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, thereafter the initiative will be with the Government of Pakistan and its people. An all-out offensive should then be launched after Dec 2014, so that one should own it as Pakistan’s war. Million dollar question is that Pakistan is assisting Afghan Taliban for negotiations with US and Afghan Government, reciprocating the same what assistance Afghan Taliban will provide to Pakistan to establish peace in FATA?