November 21, 2021


Beyond the reality that such negotiations are in fact underway, the terms under which these are being held as well as the possible concessions that are on the table need transparency

Earlier this month, the government announced a complete ceasefire with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, revealing that talks with the banned militant outfit were under way in line with the Constitution. The announcement of a month-long ceasefire was also confirmed by the TTP in a statement. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry also announced that the interim Afghan government was facilitating the negotiations, adding that the ceasefire could be extended depending on the outcome of the talks.

This may not have come as a total surprise – at least not for everyone. There had been talk of such negotiations for days, and important government figures including the president, the prime minister and the foreign minister had gone beyond hinting that such developments were more than mere possibilities.

Be that as it may, the secrecy of the process has raised many pertinent questions. Beyond the reality that such negotiations are, in fact, under way, the terms under which these are being held as well as the possible concessions that are on the table need transparency. And not just transparency. Given the scale and the impact of the terror attacks by the militant organisation, the citizens at large are entitled to a say in the process that can only be ensured through a broad political and social inclusive dialogue on the same.

There are countless victims of terrorism in the country. They include ordinary citizens, prominent political and social persons and soldiers. Thousands of precious lives have been lost in an insane bloodletting perpetrated by terrorist groups such as the TTP. There is much at stake here. The future, yes, but also a troubled past, embroiled in pain, loss, fear and anger. Without addressing both simultaneously, it is impossible for the people to come to terms with a new arrangement, even one that promises peace.

After the Supreme Court recently summoned the prime minister, the families of the Army Public School massacre are once again the centre of attention – a sad reality of the times where a tragedy such as the APS attack continues to remain confined to a yearly remembrance on December 16. This week, in our Special Report, we try to go beyond the news, to explore the underlying sentiment in the wake of the recent developments.