Peace negotiators hadn’t yet stopped high-fiving when the talks collapsed after a Taliban-claimed attack killed 13 policemen in Karachi. Pakistan says that by talking to a Pakistani panel of negotiators, the Taliban has recognised the constitution of Pakistan; the Taliban says Pakistan has de facto lifted its ban on Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) by officially talking to its panel.
As if to rebut the Pakistani assumption, the Taliban spokesperson, Shahidullah Shahid, says the Taliban aspires to making its chief, Mullah Fazlullah, the caliph of Pakistan under a suzerain in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar, the “amirul-momineen” of a universal state that will come into being after the Taliban’s triumphal return to the throne of Kabul. One of the Taliban negotiators, Maulana Abdul Aziz of the rebellious Lal Masjid fame, has made the constitutional state of Pakistan shake in its tracks by saying: “the Taliban are most interested in implementing Sharia law in Pakistan” and that the US military presence in Afghanistan was “a very small factor” in the fight.
While the two sides talk and constantly “break” news to TV channels that the chances of success are bright, terrorist attacks have continued at the rate of one a day since the government announced the talks — the human casualty figure is eight innocent Pakistanis dead a day. Of course, the Taliban denies it is killing while talking, despite its signature on every incident. But last week, it broke the Pakistani heart by actually claiming that it had 13 police commandos, employed at INR 700 per month, killed in Karachi.
Instead of questioning the TTP on its double dealing, pro-talks politicians accept that the terrorists could not kill after they had given their pious word, and blame the “foreign hand”, which doesn’t want peace in the country. An official has dutifully announced that Islamabad was crawling with Khad and Mossad spies; another has allegedly arrested an Indian spy near the saintly shrine of Data Darbar of Lahore. Politicians fulminate against Blackwater and other elements to whom America has outsourced the job of scuttling peace talks. So while peace-loving Pakistan and the TTP engage in talks, Israel, India and the Karzai government, led by the US, were killing innocent Pakistanis, including, ironically, Christians. Clerics, wielding clout by reason of their well-funded madrassas, reject the Taliban’s recourse to terror but feel empowered by their challenge to the “pagan” state and are fulminating against the “obscenity of culture” and “nudity of women”, the latter reference being to unveiled women out shopping among men.
The world may feel faint in disbelief but in Pakistan, there is a consensus over this galloping narrative of the “wrong war”. The consensus is so strong that even those who know better will go on TV saying Pervez Musharraf committed a blunder by accepting UN Security Council Resolution 1373 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and joining the war on terrorism. Only, they omit continued…