Pakistans offer of unconditional talks to the Taliban will only bring humiliation,and no peace.
An All Parties Conference (APC) in Islamabad on September 9,2013 unanimously recommended the initiation of dialogue with all the stakeholders to curb terrorism,meaning white-flag talks with the Taliban. Two APCs before this tried anti-Americanism to woo the terrorists,thinking the Taliban would be satisfied but failed,and also ended up doing nothing against America. After the army announced it was getting out of Swat-Malakand-Dir,the Taliban have killed a major general and a lieutenant colonel there,and killed four additional troops in North Waziristan,on September 15.
The army has already tried its populist anti-Americanism in deference to its internal emotion,but could not do without the $60 million a month it received from the US-led Coalition Support Fund for deployment in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA),while needlessly tormenting a government it thought was pro-America and pro-India.
The APC line was: fighting the Taliban was part of the big mistake of becoming Americas ally after 9/11. The rumour is that Imran Khan,whose party is ruling in strategic Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa abutting FATA,has convinced the army chief,General Ashfaq Kayani,to take the army out of FATA gradually as a gesture of sincerity to the Taliban who are fighting Pakistan because of its slavishly pro-America policy.
The APC attached no conditions to the offer of talks,except for self-mortifyingly vowing to go to the UN against American drones killing the Taliban in FATA; and now the Taliban are busy conferring among their 78 splinters to decide how to respond to the offer after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) welcomed it through a spokesman. On September 15,they proclaimed freeing of TTP prisoners as their precondition for talks. Pakistans politics of surrender will likely bring humiliation and no peace.
In Urdu,the APC has been hailed as supreme wisdom; in English,serious doubts have arisen about talking to terrorists from a position of weakness. A clash of linguistic narratives took place pointedly on a GEO TV talk show last week where English-medium former Pakistan ambassador to the US and head of Islamabad NGO Jinnah Institute,Sherry Rehman,was pitted against the Urdu-medium,recently outed super-non-state actor,former chief of defunct Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and front-row member of the Defence of Pakistan Council vowing to fight India till the bitter end,Fazlur Rehman Khalil. Unfortunately,Sherry Rehman appeared to lose the debate on language competence,but what she said was right.
As for the charge that Pakistan was getting ready to talk to the Taliban from prostration,Khalils answer was stock: if the superpower can talk peace with the Taliban strangers,why cant Pakistan with its own misguided sons? Rehmans rebuttal was easy: the Americans are leaving a country they had occupied; Pakistan was not leaving Pakistan. Then came a more complicated issue: if Pakistan can be ready to talk to the Baloch insurgents doing terrorism in Balochistan,why cant it talk to the Taliban? Rehman said: because the Taliban have come from outside,while the Baloch are Pakistanis. She carefully suppressed the comment that while both were terrorists,the Taliban had to be fought because they were ideologically more threatening.
The Taliban and continued…