Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Letting off the proscribed Taliban movement of Pakistan

On October, 04 Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan disclosed a staggering development in Pakistan’s policy during an interview with Turkish Radio and Television Cooperation (TRT), that his government is going to put forward an amnesty offer to the outlawed outfit of Pakistani Taliban. He said since the group is not a monolith, “some of the factions want to talk to the government for some peace and reconciliation, and we are in talks with some of the groups”.

The premier also divulged that these parleys are being held in Afghanistan and the Afghan Taliban are interlocutors. The government move is being highly slammed by the Opposition parties especially the PPP and PMLN asserting that the ruling body has expediated the advancement without taking the Parliament into confidence on such a sensitive and pivotal matter.

The banned organization has launched several blood-shedding brutal attacks in the country, killing about 80,000 peoples, including the Army public school attack of December 2016 and haven’t terminated blitz on security forces yet. So, the talks without consulting the Pakistani society and their representatives are like twisting the knife in wounds. As the information minister said the TTP members who want to shun the path of inhumanity should be given a chance to return to mainstream usual life.

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Sheltering the executive’s step toward pardoning the Taliban, Interior minister sheikh Rashid Ahmed uttered that the offer was only for “Good Taliban” not those who were involved in the Peshawar onslaughts and other vicious ventures.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is the deadliest militant umbrella organization in Pakistan. Instituted in December 2007 under Baitullah Mehsud, primarily comprising the Pashtun Islamist armed groups who generally regard themselves as Mujahideen.

Having links with the militants of Al-Qaeda and even with the Afghan Taliban, the conglomerate keeps the Ideologies of Wahabism, Islamic Fundamentalism, Pashtunwali, Sectarianism, and separatism. Pakistan has lost many lives in the Khyber insurgency war in northwest Waziristan against the TTP, of which the operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Rad-ul-Fasaad were the weighty components.

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Resultantly the outfit became a less potent threat to Pakistan security as Michael Semple (a fellow at Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice) writes that “reported terrorism-related fatalities in Pakistan fell to 3682 in 2015, down from a peak of 11,704 in 2009(SATP)”.

In the hindsight, looking at the history of the reconciliations as DIIC (2013) report states that Since the formal peace deals of 2004, 2005, and 2008 there have been no peace talks between the TTP and the Pakistani government until 2013.

In 2014 under former prime minister Nawaz Sharif there the talks started but due to extravagant demands and TTP’s high-profile attack on Karachi airport in June 2014 made the negotiations unachievable goal. One thing that history suggests is that the Taliban are not acceptive with regards to the term of the negotiation rather aversive in nature.  The state must not forget the hard lessons, history taught us.

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The lacking on the part of the government is that they haven’t made the policy plain to the Pakistani people and opposition leaders like What are we putting forward? what are the want of the Taliban? and what is the process? The government is equating the US-Afghan Taliban analogy with Pakistan-TTP conflicts but this logic is dangerously superficial. As the United States was the foreign force in Afghanistan and the Afghan Taliban were the indigenous fighting for the homeland. The situation is downright opposite in our case.

Pakistan’s strategy is to identify reconcilable elements within the TTP and dispatch the foot soldiers. If they are ready to lay down arms, renounce violence, and commit to the constitution then the government will award them the status of normal citizens of the state.

Consequently, the amnesty offer could be the recipe for disaster, the government “has opened itself up to two-front offensive”. Internationally US attempts to scapegoat Pakistan and now at home the government has indulged itself in the new matter which obviously has an impact on Pakistani politics and its world image.

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The pardon will further legitimize the TTP’s extremist viewpoints, creating an even more conducive environment for jihadist perspectives. The inclusion might reduce the public space and scale of women’s and minorities’ rights. Additionally, the splinter hardline groups who do participate will be posing more threat to the state as the Frankenstein comprising numerous sub-groups.

Regionally, mainstreaming of Afghan Taliban and now TTP (their anti-Hazara, anti-China, anti-secular education) will flame hyper-violence. The organization can morph into a hybrid entity with political and military duties. Moreover, Pakistan may face political and economic isolation, scarcity of further investments, and even sanction from the Western world. US recent bill to reassess the country’s role in the Afghan War is just a glimpse.

In last the government must equally appraise all the positives and the negatives of the deal and must explicate the rationale, advancements, and methodology of the talks with TTP.

Author: Waqar Ahmed

He is a student of International relations with a keen interest in foreign policy and great power politics

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