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Tuesday February 07, 2023

Dealing with the TTP

By Editorial Board
November 08, 2021

According to rumours doing the rounds, there may be some form of negotiations going on with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, ostensibly to allow the establishment of peace in the country. It is not clear precisely who is leading these talks, but one would assume that this has been given some thought, given past ‘deals’ with such elements and the repercussions of these. In the past too, the Pakistan government negotiated deals and agreements with the Taliban only to see them being broken within months. Also in the past, key Taliban leaders such as Noor Wali Mehsud and other senior members of Taliban splinter groups had turned down talks with the Pakistan government saying that they wished only to establish Shariah in the state. If the rumours are correct, it is unfortunate that people are not being told more about a matter which has a huge impact on their lives and that there has been no discussion in parliament or in the media about these developments. Pakistan’s leadership needs to remember from its past and its failed attempts to deal with the TTP through talks in the past as well as the harm that this caused the country.

There are also other issues, which need attention. Parents of the children massacred at the APS school in Peshawar in December 2014 have already spoken out strongly against any accord with the TTP saying that these were the people responsible for the death of their children. There are also other victims of the TTP who are equally angry. In this setup we need to see what happens and when, if anytime in the near future, the basic outline of this deal ought to be made clear and the matter explained to the people of Pakistan in terms of just how many Taliban prisoners are to be released, who they are, if they are really people of low rank, as is presently being claimed, and what is to be done to punish those TTP leaders who have been guilty of grave acts of terrorism that killed hundreds, if not thousands of people in the country over the years.

This is a serious matter. It is understood that the talks began soon after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, but were broken up after Prime Minister Imran Khan chose to discuss the deal on Turkish television. We assume this will not happen again and that before any Turkish television or any other news channel, the people of Pakistan and political parties in the country will be taken into confidence so that consensus can be built. We also reiterate – as we did in the deal with the TLP – that not much good has ever come out of appeasing militants in this country. The state of Pakistan must ask itself: does it really wish to accommodate an extremist, violent, banned terrorist outfit that has killed its children, its armed forces, its citizens?

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