Sunday January 29, 2023

Searching for justice

By Editorial Board
November 13, 2021

While Pakistan brokers a one-month long ceasefire with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has for years been regareded Pakistan's biggest terrorism challenge, the parents of the massacred students of the Army Public School in Peshawar continue to shed tears. The prime minister has been summoned to court over the matter and told that beyond compensation for the families, major efforts should be made to lodge FIRs against those responsible for the horrendous attack that left a nation shaken. But now it seems the government of that nation is willing once again to talk with the TTP, with the assistance of the Afghan Taliban, and agree to a peace deal with them.

There are many aspects to this. Working out deals with the TTP have failed in the past again and again, and this would be the seventh attempt to reach any agreement. We also need to recall that this militant outfit has killed scores of soldiers in the operations against them and in targeted attacks on military and police check posts across the country. Is this then a group we wish to broker a deal with – without taking everyone into confidence? Perhaps the government needs to take the matter to parliament, as is being demanded, so that there can be further dialogue and further discussion on the entire issue. Through such a dialogue, issues such as that of justice for the slain APS students and others killed by the TTP in parks, in hotels, in recreational places, and in attacks on the police and the military could also come under discussion. The parents of the APS students have expressed dismay over the agreement and the failure to apprehend the leaders of the TTP responsible for the attack on the school. They seek not compensation or even revenge – but only justice.

The country needs to decide what justice means – and perhaps the best place to do so would be parliament. The parents of the APS students need peace and some form of closure which may only come to them if the persons responsible for the attack are brought to justice. Men like Ehsanullah Ehsan still remain free – happily tweeting away as the massacred children's parents look on in despair. Even as the government talks to the TTP, it must consider these factors as well as the possible benefits of reaching a peace deal with the Pakistani Taliban. We have been told that geopolitically this could be of some benefit, at least in the short term. But we also need to think about morality, about the nature of our state and our society, about the perceptions of the world at a time when Pakistan remains on the FATF grey list, and the sentiments of people within the country – as well as the current nature of a group which could once again gain strength in the garb of 'peace'.