The curious case of peace talks in Pakistan

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by kseeker, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. kseeker

    kseeker Retired

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    Calling the Tehrik-e-Taliban to the talks table is a bit like calling a serial stalker over for dinner. Some say it is the only solution, a necessary strategy in retaliation to that cowboy-western smoke-it-out approach favoured by a previous US president.

    Back in 2007 when lawyers marched on Islamabad streets in an uncomfortable partnership with the dark lords of the Lal Masjid, Pervez Musharraf lamented that the Americans just didn't get it. Talks with the Taliban were the only possibility of a solution. Coming from the much practiced stage talk of military man, it was hard to believe him. But today, it really doesn't have the remotest likeness to good strategy. The Taliban are calling all the shots, andquite unabashedly discussing how Mullah Fazlullah would make a fine PM for the Land of the Pure.

    Folks from the PTI suggest that ace-cricketer turned wandering man of the tribal lands turned a bit red when his name popped up on the Taliban special-invite list. Now that's what we call strategy, mixing up a good Molotov cocktail to add some more confusion to the public question of, Why are we? A small chunk of Khan's erstwhile following - whose every response to the question: Seriously, how is Imran Khan going to solve Pakistan's problems or He's a fanatic himself or he's just a raving raver, or finally, he fell off a forklift, was: he's a true patriot and who else is there?

    Give him a chance - are quietly observing the PTI's failure in responding to repeated attacks on the public and the private in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. Apart from losing vocal cords over drones over the mountainous lands, he's said very little to demonstrate that he's anti-Taliban, or opposed to bombings that splinter through marketplaces.

    The curious part of this specialist panel is that both sides seem to be on the same side, which means that on paper this could be a really productive mediation exercise; conflict resolution people, pay attention. The grand master of ceremonies, Sami-ul-Haq is one member of this esteemed group. Haq is the headmaster of Akora Khattak, a Taliban school that produced the one-eyed Mullah Omar. Haq is a classic bad boy. He loves the idea of battles on rough terrain, bandits and espionage and religious seal, as much as he loves the fairer sex. It never fails to amaze me how every kind of right-wing badboy - Muslim, Christian, Hindu, whatever- manages to leave public sexual scandal and walk away without a stain on his priestly robes. Meanwhile the whole world had to imagine Bill Clinton in all kinds of compromised positions.

    Let's leave Khan alone; he is hardly a chupa rustam but he might find himself caught increasingly in a sleek and sinewy snare. Another friend worth a closer inspection is a migratory bird from the Arabian peninsula, the local Lawrence of Arabia, Nawaz Sharif. His estate, known as Raiwand, outside Lahore, much written about in the run up to his taking office, is also the location for heady several-day religious fests where pop-stars like Junaid Jamshed sermonize. Once a reason for teenagers to drool as Jamshed belted out poppy tunes as the lead singer of Vital Signs, he is now part of the Tableeghi Jamaat, still at the podium but strumming the wiry strings of his growing beard as he calls out to youth to head the call for piety.

    Not that the Tabhleeghi Jamaat can or should be equated to the Taliban, a purely political body employing religion to further its aim of world domination. But I bring it up because of a recent letter to the editor by Humayun Gauhar, a journalist whose piece in Pakistan Today, titled 'Gay Wedding', and referencing the marriage of the state and the Taliban recounts a Dinner with the Sharifs in 1988 when, according to Gauhar, Sharif said he wanted to bring in Islamic laws to Pakistan. He explained why: "Do you know that a bird cannot dare flap a wing in Iran? And you can go out in the dead of night anywhere in Afghanistan with 110 tolas of gold in your hands and no one dare lift a finger against you? There is peace in Afghanistan."

    Hence, it's no surprise when pundits are calling the whole mediation drama a big farce. But if you believe Gauhar's version we're in for a truly rocky ride. The starry-eyed will have to acknowledge that even Imran Khan can't save us.

    The writer is a Delhi-based Pakistani journalist.

    The curious case of peace talks in Pakistan - The Times of India
     
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  3. kseeker

    kseeker Retired

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    Pakistani Taliban decide on ceasefire: Reports - The Times of India

    ISLAMABAD: The Taliban have decided in principle on a ceasefire that is likely to be announced in the next 24 hours but have demanded the release of detained non-combatants and withdrawal of the Pakistani Army from North Waziristan region, media reports said on Sunday.

    The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)'s political 'shura' or council met in the tribal belt to deliberate on the government's demand for a truce to take forward a controversial and fragile peace process.

    The shura decided in principle to announce a ceasefire in the next 24 hours, TV news channels quoted their sources as saying.

    The Taliban demanded the withdrawal of the army from the lawless North Waziristan tribal region. They also said non-combatants, including women and children, who are allegedly in the custody of security forces should be freed.

    Analysts said the army might have a problem with any demand to withdraw its troops since it established its presence in Waziristan after much time and effort.

    The TTP shura includes its deputy chief Qari Shakil Ahmed Haqqani, TTP spokesman Azam Tariq, Amir Islam, Commander Ahmed, Anwar Gandapuri, Quetta division leader Pir Sahab, Maulana Abdullah and Commander Pashtun.

    State negotiators and a Taliban-nominated committee have held preliminary talks aimed at ending the decade-long insurgency that has claimed some 40,000 lives.

    However, there is growing scepticism that the process will produce a lasting solution, with observers pointing out that the Taliban have reneged on all past peace deals.

    The Taliban have carried out several terrorist attacks even after joining the peace process.

    State negotiators had earlier this week made it clear that further attacks would not be tolerated. They said that if attacks continued, "it would become difficult to continue the dialogue process".
     

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