IPRI – Islamabad Policy Research Institute

No speaking to the terrorists

More than 70,000 casualties during the two decades of the so-called war on terrorism came at the hands of non-state actors. Pakistanis were bled to the core, their lives devastated and no place was spared from attacks.

The armed forces and the nation rendered unprecedented sacrifices in their struggle to exterminate the menace of these terrorists, and were finally able to cleanse the length and breadth of the country of this terror nuisance. Bravery, nationalism and resilience triumphed.

Yet, all of a sudden the government believes that sections of the gun-wielding mafia should be engaged in talks. An olive branch is being offered under the grab of engaging them. Though the name of Tehrik-e-Taliban is on the surface, one knows for sure the attempt encompasses other similar terror outfits too.

The notion of differentiating between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban has cost quite dearly. At the end of the day, all of them are terrorists. They have killed our children, maimed a generation, destroyed infrastructure, ridiculed the legitimacy of governments, and last but not least defied the writ of the state.

Is this a pardonable crime? No, under any canons of law they are culprits and traitors, to say the least. They should stand in retribution for all practical reasons.

The very idea of talking to the TTP has come in the wake of two major developments. One is the return of the Afghan Taliban to power in Afghanistan, and two; an increase in the number of attacks on CPEC projects and armed forces convoys, reportedly claimed by the TTP.

Men at the helm of affairs believe that Afghan Taliban can help in brokering a thaw with fugitives of the TTP now based on their soil, and relieve Pakistan from a major threat perception. This is a flawed approach. It unnecessarily puts Pakistan not only in a bad light internationally, but also undermines its sovereignty.

The Afghan Taliban had vowed to ensure that none of the gun-trotters would be allowed to use their country as a launching pad for terror attacks against anyone in the region.

Thus, it is incumbent upon the Taliban to walk the talk, and act against the TTP, the Daesh and Al Qaeda remnants as the lawful ruling entity. Why should Islamabad stake its claim by involving its emissaries in a foreign country, and that too with days of Taliban returning to power?

Why does the State believe in playing the flute to make non-state actors fall in line—with very often a carrot in hand. There is something wrong somewhere. The black sheep need to be singled out in the corridors of power. They are deceptive and letting down Pakistan to serve their vested interests.

There is no harm in speaking with adversaries and even with the enemy. But in doing that there are a set of protocols, and dos and don’ts. Any individual or group that had taken up arms against the state, and bled its citizens, cannot be doled out amnesty—under any circumstances.

Pakistan’s heroic war against terrorists, namely Zarb-e-Azb and Rad-ul-Fassad, was from a position of strength. Mr Prime Minister, you have led from the front, and it seems you are now chasing a mirage while talking to the terrorists.

Note: This article appeared on The Nation, dated 05 October 2021.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are of the author and do not necessarily represent Institute’s policy.


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