Reports appearing in the media about secret talks between unknown security and military personnel and the TTP in Afghanistan have justifiably raised eyebrows. The TTP is responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent citizens and army men. Their latest ghastly act was the killing of about 150 school children and teachers in Peshawar Army Public School. A question is being asked if the state is willing to simply forgive those who conducted suicide and gun attacks in bazars, mosques and shrines killing unsuspecting citizens. In a goodwill gesture, the state has reportedly freed and pardoned some convicted high-profile militants, including the notorious Swat terrorist Muslim Khan.
The reports indicate that the state is suing for peace. So far we only know about the demands of the Taliban. The terrorist network wants the reversal of the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that rid the tribal people of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), a relic of the colonial era and brought the population into the mainstream. What is more the TTP also wants Pakistan’s laws and courts to be replaced by Sharia laws enforced by Sharia courts in Malakand followed by other tribal areas. How come a terrorist network beaten and dismantled comprehensively has popped up again and is imposing conditions for peace on those who defeated it? Can Pakistan afford to compromise its hard-won dominance and sovereignty, thus losing in talks what it had won on the battlefield?
The issue is too important to be left to security and military personnel. Apparently the state institutions involved in talks are little concerned about the legal, political and social consequences of accepting the TTP’s demands. This is likely to give birth to more complex conflicts. There is a need to explain how a badly defeated network has managed to attain a position where it feels confident of imposing its terms on Pakistan. Who are the forces that have helped TTP to gain strength? Instead of holding secret talks with the most lethal terrorist group, the issue of talks with the TTP should be brought into the mainstream discussion. What is more, the Parliament needs to be taken into confidence over the situation and handed over the issue for an in-depth discussion.