It is high times for Pakistan to capitalise the situation and chalk-out an objective plan to bring the splinters to mainstream society by offering them incentives and jobs after a thorough process of de-radicalisation.
Albeit, both sides have confirmed the secret process of talks, still many analysts and observers doubt the sincerity of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership to surrender just for the sake of peace, as many similar peace deals were signed with TTP in past but the militants renege those deals so peace could not be restored in FATA. Do the militants really want to give peace a chance this time or is it a tactic to buy time? Even if the better sense has prevailed over some of these radicals, what will be the agenda of the talks between them? Peace at the stake of what? What could be the different dimensions of this deal, possible challenges and opportunities for the state of Pakistan? What could be the ways to come out of this imbroglio?
Ceasefire and withdrawal of troops from the area;
Enforcement of their version of ‘Islamic Sharia’ in the FATA;
Release of their leadership and cronies who are in Pakistan’s custody;
They will demand the government to keep its eyes closed on their free movement across the border to fight against allied forces.
Everyone of these anticipated demands is in itself a challenge and is out of acceptability.
Firstly, the withdrawal of forces even if TTP agrees to surrender would mean giving a free hand to these elements to regroup and resurface at a larger scale. It will also result in uninterrupted massive intrusion of external elements which actually help in recruitment, and then they finance, train, equip and identify the soft targets for these terrorists. It is an undeniable fact that unless the logistic supply or financial assistance is not crippled, no insurgency can be eliminated.
The enforcement of their Takfeeri ideology means to implement a system of brutality in which their own interpretation of Islam and ‘Islamic laws’ will make the people suffer even more than from what they have been suffering since last many years due to the unceasing inhuman and dreadful acts of this outfit. Imagine the plight of the people in a system in which there will be no schools for girls, where English language would be considered as Haram (strictly forbidden), women even if would come out of their houses at extreme necessity would shot dead and people would be beheaded frequently for committing some ‘Kufr’, and where al-Qaeda fighters would be considered as ‘sacred guests’. This system will not only blow yet again a severe damage to the already tarnished reputation of Pakistan in the comity of nations but also become a safest epicenter on the surface of the earth for international terrorists. Then the permission to promulgate this system in one specific area will not keep them confined to that particular area but this will have domino effects and they will struggle hard to spread their ‘great cause’ to mainstream Pakistani society and for that very ‘divine’ objective they can again resort for violent means if any power would dare resisted that.
Then giving green signal to them to fight against Nato-Isaf forces in Afghanistan would also have serious repercussions for Pakistan. First of all it will bring Pak-US already perilous ties to a level of hostility and antagonism. The unbridled movements of these fighters will also means more drone attacks, more collateral damage, resultantly higher level of resentment among masses, thus more recruitment of this ‘Jihad’. So, while negotiations with TTP all these dimensions should be kept in perspective.
Again the release of those fanatics who are actually pioneers of this cold-blooded and merciless group would also have irreversible implications. Who is going to control all of them after they would be set free to trap the youth for their personal objectives? There has to be a very well established mechanism for their surveillance and to make them agreed to the terms and conditions of the state.
Despite all the above-mentioned challenges there are some opportunities and positivists for the state in talks with TTP. First, it should be kept in view that military means can never solve any conflict, especially in guerilla warfare and insurgencies like this. Use of force, if inevitable, can be one of the tiers of the grand strategy to curb insurgencies but not the only option because violence only breeds violence.
Moreover, as it was witnessed that on December 18, 2011, in the aftermath of Slalah carnage a massive gathering was organised under the banner of Difa-e-Pakistan Council in which religious parties of all schools of thought expressed their loyalties for state and pledged to render all sorts of sacrifices for the defence of Pakistan along with Pakistan armed forces at the time of any critical eventuality. As some of these religious parties have somewhat ideological association with TTP-, being followers of Deobandi version of Islam, can play a crucial role of inter-lockers and mediators between state and TTP.
Likewise, after the announcement of withdrawal of troops by Obama, this is talk of the town that as Afghan Taliban will eventually be the rulers of Afghanistan and it will mean no or minimum presence of Indians there. It is now an open secret that concrete evidences have been unearthed according to which Indians are major source of finance for TTP. This is also one of the reasons that TTP has now proactively aspiring for ceasefire as they know that once aid and abet of India ceased, they will no more be capable enough to continue their lethal war against Pakistanis. So this factor should be kept in mind that TTP is badly need of reconciliation and should be brought to talks on state’s own proviso.
It is real time for Pakistan to play its cards wisely to curb this malady once for all. Pragmatic and well-nit strategy should be made and all the stake-holders especially the common people should be brought on board before these talks reach to some decisive point. Workable policies and long-term planning should be state’s very first priority to address the grievances of the people of FATA and proper education and development of the area can help to turn the dream of ‘giving peace a chance’ into reality.