ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government is in no mood to accept the proposed demands of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for a peace deal, mainly due to the fact that conceding to these demands tantamount to surrendering the authority of the state to the militants.
According to well-informed government sources, there is a consensus among the top military and civilian leadership of the country that accepting the TTP demands would essentially amount to admitting defeat of the state against al-Qaeda-linked extremists.
The TTP has let loose a reign of terror in almost every nook and corner of Pakistan since 2007 in a bid to pressurize the PPP government to concede to its two basic demands of making Shariah the supreme law of the land and to end all ties with the United States.
In its latest move which comes in the wake of the brutal assassination of the ANP leader Bashir Bilour, the TTP has repeated almost the same demands, knowing well that the ANP was now pressing for a decisive military action against terrorist sanctuaries in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and adjoining tribal regions.
While claiming that there is no divide in the Pakistani Taliban, the fugitive TTP Ameer Hakimullah Mehsud said in a video released on December 28, 2012 that his group could be open to talks with the government, but rejected the idea that his men should give up their guns before such negotiations. Appearing alongside his No 2 Commander Waliur Rehman and the TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, Hakimullah Mehsud said in his 40-minute video that democracy was against Islam and al-Qaeda was an ally worth dying for. “We believe in dialogue but it should not be frivolous. Asking us to lay down arms is a joke”.
“If Pakistan is serious about negotiations, it will have to give up US slavery. We will then be ready for negotiations”, Mehsud said in the video. The timing of the tape is quite significant as it has emerged after a spate of high-profile terrorist attacks claimed by the TTP in recent weeks, including a fidayeen attack on the PAF air base inside the Peshawar airport, the murder of Bashir Bilour and the hostage taking of 22 Pakistani soldiers.
But the government circles say neither the political nor the military elite was in a mood to bow to the Taliban tactics by even considering the so-called TTP demands. These circles say the Taliban were not interested in a ceasefire, they simply wanted the state to surrender to their terror spree which was out of question. Even otherwise, they add, it is a well-known fact that all such peace deals in the past had miserably failed in bringing peace and stability to the region.
The government sources reminded that the history of so-called deals with the Taliban elements fighting the Pakistani state was not very encouraging, chiefly because the talks were not conducted from a position of strength, coupled with the fact that the militants were not sincere in a ceasefire.
Soon after assuming power in KP following the 2008 polls, the ANP had struck a peace deal with Maulana Sufi Mohammad and imposed the Shariah law in the Swat Valley. The peace deal struck by the only secular party of the province brought the jailed Sufi back to help broker another deal with Mullah Fazlullah.
The ANP government had maintained at that time that the [April 20, 2008 and the May 21, 2008] peace deals with Sufi and Mullah Fazlullah respectively were meant to restore normalcy Sufi and his son-in-law had renounced the use of force to achieve their goal of enforcement of Islamic laws besides pledging to respect the institutions of the state.
In return, the government withdrew all the pending cases against Sufi and Fazlullah. However, the extremists used these deals to their own advantage by extending their area of influence and strengthening them in the valley. This finally prompted the government to order a massive military operation against the militants on May 8, 2009 until normalcy returns to the Valley.