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Pakistan engaging with the TTP: A right move?

Pakistan is in disarmament talks with some factions of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Prime Minister Imran Khan has said, as the government seeks stability in the country in the backdrop of a fast-evolving situation in Afghanistan, but is Pakistan making the right decision by engaging with Taliban and will this move have any positive outcomes, discusses Imran Jan, a political analyst.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan in his interview to the Turkish TV broke the news that the state of Pakistan was involved in talking to the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) in order to negotiate peace, turning them into what he called “normal citizens” where they’d avoid grabbing arms. This may or may not work. But it is worth a shot. The primary job of the prime minister is to ensure the safety and security of the citizens of Pakistan. If that is the aim of these possible talks then it is a worthy effort. I am personally opposed to talks with anyone who aims to destabilize the state but I am not in charge. Besides, peace can hardly be achieved with the Whack-A-Mole strategy.

There are two major viewpoints regarding this debate. One is the western press, which is mainly of the view or rather that is what it spins that the Taliban inside Pakistan are emboldened by what they saw across the border in Afghanistan, where the Afghan Taliban defeated mighty America and sent it packing home. Inside Pakistan, they are spinning this narrative that the Taliban are feeling triumphant and would rather go for the kill than to talk to the state of Pakistan.

Read more: Afghan Taliban warn TTP leaders, ask to settle issues with Pakistan

Why are we consistently witnessing manufactured opinions?

Truth be told, that narrative almost sounds like a cheap attempt to manufacture opinion. It appears that it may be an effort to have this narrative be internalized for the possible coming onslaught. What that narrative machinery ignores is that if the Pakistani Taliban had to mimic their Afghan counterparts, then they’d immediately realize that the final goal of expelling the foreign forces was achieved through talks.

Two, and this is mostly inside the Pakistani press, that those butchers who have a lot of innocent blood on their hands must be punished rather than sat across the table from. Yes, they have the blood of those innocent children of APS on their filthy hands. They are terrorists. I would never advocate talking to such people. I would rather burn them alive and then some. However, I only smell disingenuous intentions under the arguments and reasoning of those who criticize Imran Khan for talking to the Taliban.

It is important to point out some differences. The Afghan Taliban were fighting against a foreign army that was occupying their land against the will of the people there. The occupying army had installed a corrupt and illegitimate government that was only told to pursue American interests. The Pakistani Taliban are not fighting some foreign occupation army. Rather the TTP itself is partly foreign fighters converging inside the tribal areas of Pakistan to destabilize the host country. They are the occupiers, not the occupied. The group is most likely funded from abroad.

Read more: Pakistan to ask Taliban to take action against TTP

Why America took the war on the Afghan Taliban?

America was fighting on another nation’s soil, which was a million miles away from their own country. The lives and routines of the American people were not disrupted due to the war being fought on the land of Afghanistan. Pakistan, on the other hand, felt the heat of the terrorist actions of the TTP. Pakistanis’ lives were absolutely disrupted like never before. Pakistani lives were lost. Pakistan is looking at an enemy that can wreak havoc across the nation if slight miscalculations are made.

Many in Pakistan who are in favor of talking to the Taliban are saying that the Americans brought an end to its longest war by finally talking to the Taliban. Many are criticizing that stance with the argument that the Prime Minister is doing it in secrecy without letting the Parliament know and that he is signing off on the innocent lives lost. In the Pakistani press, I came across one interesting column in Dawn, rather one ludicrous column I should say.

It basically said that those who are saying why Pakistan shouldn’t talk to the Taliban when America did the same are ludicrous because the Taliban are very much here in Pakistan and they can unleash hell right here.

The very fact that they are here is the reason why any misadventure cannot be undertaken because guess what; they are here. It wouldn’t take recruiting some disgruntled employee or some frustrated teenager on Instagram to take it upon himself and start knifing people in some supermarket. All it would take would be for members of the TTP to drive to major Pakistani cities and start killing people. Pakistan, however, fighting against the TTP wouldn’t be taking the war to them but rather bringing it home where every citizen would be vulnerable to TTP’s mayhem.

Read more: Pakistan’s security under threat by TTP: UN report

Why aren’t phone talks with Biden not criticized like criticizing talking to the TTP?  

Finally and the most interesting aspect of this all is that the people who criticize talking to the TTP because they have innocent blood on their hands are the same people who labeled the drone targeted innocent dead people as suspected militants. Mohsin Dawar and the likes were happy to argue that the drone strikes were killing terrorists. We now know for a fact that some of those labeled as terrorists killed in CIA’s drone strikes included kids as young as 2 and elderly as old as 81. Speaking of drone strikes, the same journalists ridicule Imran Khan for not receiving a phone call from President Biden, who was the Vice-President in an administration that killed countless innocent civilians in Pakistan by drone strikes.

And we are now to believe that those opinion manufacturers or rather spin doctors who sanitized the murder of innocent civilians by calling it the killing of terrorists have suddenly become so caring about the loss of innocent lives that they are against talking to the TTP. Once again, I am not in favor of talks with the TTP but I can see reason in it for the sake of the greater good. What I am absolutely against is the disgusting and stinking motive these media sellout journos have in criticizing Imran Khan’s move. Their argument stinks of hypocrisy.

Read more: Pakistani army conducts IBO in South Waziristan, two TTP militants killed

Lastly, the Afghan Taliban are reportedly helping Pakistan in talks with the TTP. That, if worked, would only be a quid pro quo. Pakistan helped the Taliban conclude the peace talks with the foreign fighters occupying Afghan land and now the Afghan Taliban would help Pakistan in concluding peace talks with foreign fighters on Pakistan’s land. Let us all hope that it works because regardless of what our opinions are as to how to achieve it, peace is the most worthy ambition.

 

The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at imran.jan@gmail.com. Twitter @Imran_Jan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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