Terrorist Attacks Hamper Peace Dialogue

TALIBAN  By Sajjad Shaukat

Debate continues between various political and religious leaders in relation to peace dialogue with the Taliban. 

In this regard, after obtaining consensus of the mainstream political parties in the All Parties Conference (APC), held on September 9, 2013, the government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had decided to start peace process with the militants, especially of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The TTP had also welcomed the government’s offer.

But, TTP insurgents did not stop their subversive acts.  On September 15, this year, Maj-Gen. Sanaullah Khan including a lieutenant colonel and a soldier were killed in a landmine attack in Upper Dir. TTP spokesman claimed responsibility in this respect. In the same month, the terrorist attacks at All Saints Church, Qissa, Khwani bazaar in Peshawar, and the bus explosion on Charsadda Road killed several innocent Christians and Muslims. All these brutal incidents shocked the whole nation as well the political parties. It is due to these incidents that the present regime has become reluctant to start a peace process with the insurgents.

Notably, Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on September 16, that no one should have any misgivings that the Pakistan Army would let terrorists coerce them into accepting their terms through peace process. He clarified that the Pakistan Army had the capability and determination to fight terrorists in accordance with the will of the nation.

In his recent statement, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pointed out that the Taliban required to lay down their arms to reach the agreement. Both Gen Kayani and PM Sharif agreed to reject any pre-conditions by the insurgents.

Although PM Sharif still wants to act upon the dialogue-option with the Taliban, yet after the latest terrorist acts, he has also approved amendments in the anti-terror laws to cope with menace of terrorism. So, there is no civil-military difference regarding peace process, as some hostile elements propagate. 

As regards Taliban, on the one side, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid assailed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for changing his mind and giving precondition of laying down weapons, saying that his government was not serious about holding the dialogue, while on the other, he welcomed the suggestions of Pakistani Ulema (clerics) and various religious seminaries regarding a ceasefire prior to peace talks.

However, differences still exist between political and religious parties regarding peace talks with the militants in wake of their confused perceptions. In this connection, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) convened all parties’ conference on October 4 and in its joint declaration, urged the government to immediately announce a team to start talks with the Taliban. At the same time, the participants expressed serious concern over terrorist incidents in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, demanding the federal government to extend full support to the provincial government so that it could take concrete steps to protect people and properties. But Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples Party did not attend the conference.

Meanwhile, Chief of PTI Imran Khan who strongly favoured peace process with the Taliban, and even suggested to open an office for them has become reluctant. Taking note of TTP’s ploy, Imran Khan said on September 3, “If talks failed, an operation should be approached.” Even, Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman who has supported dialogue with the Taliban, has no clear stand in this regard, after the perennial wave of terror-assaults. Earlier, Chief of JI, Munawar Hasan who also supported peace talks, stated that he was willing to act as a mediator between the government and the TTP, but there are many groups of Taliban, and with whom he or government will have peace talks.

Nevertheless, some political circles stress upon the government to implement the decisions taken in the all parties’ conference, while some opine that government should call another all parties’ conference, and review its earlier decision about dialogue with Taliban.

It is mentionable that in the recent years, terror-attacks by the militants on the installations of Pak Army, Air Force, offices of the ISI, Rangers, Police and assaults on Army outposts including ruthless beheadings of innocent civilians and prominent figures were conducted especially by the TTP insurgents and its umbrella militant outfits which also targeted the places of worships of Shias, Ahmadis, Sufis, Christians and Sikhs.

Based in Afghanistan, American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have perennially been supporting bomb blasts, suicide attacks, abductions, target-killings, ethnic and sectarian violence in various parts of the country through TTP, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have connections with each other including some Baloch feudal lords (Sardars) who want to fulfill the secret strategic designs of US, India and Israel at the cost of Pakistan, China and Iran. Besides martyring several personnel of law-enforcing agencies and security forces in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Karachi, these foreign-backed entities kidnapped and massacred many Punjabis and Pushtuns including Chinese and Iranian nationals.

Besides facing political instability, financial losses and social strife, Pakistan’s more than 40,000 people were killed, and 8,000 personal of the security forces sacrificed their lives in coping with these stateless actors in order to maintain the security of the country.

In fact, various segments of society have no trust, particularly on the TTP which sometimes, agrees for peace talks, and sometimes rejects the same as part of its duplicity. Similarly, sometimes, they claim responsibility for their heinous acts and sometimes, deny the same. For example, recently, they denied attacks at the Peshawar church, but now accepted their involvement. Their acts of sabotage have resulted into image-distortion of Pakistan, Islam, worst law and order situation—sense of insecurity which has made the whole nation paranoid with fear and terror. However, even in case of talks, the government must not follow policy of appeasement, as the militants are blackmailing the entire nation through subversive activities.   

Nonetheless, a majority of people demands to use force against the Taliban instead of option of talks because their continued terrorist attacks have hampered peace dialogue.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

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