JCSC meeting

Stakeholders must be brought on board in any talks with the TTP

The Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee met on Friday with all three service chiefs attending, with Chairman JCSC Gen Nadeem Raza presiding. The meeting took stock of developments on the Western border especially, where it estimated there was a rapidly changing situation.

In reviewing the Western border, the Taliban naturally came under discussion. This means that the talks with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan would also have come under review. It can be assumed the JCSC was presumably better off than Parliament, which has not yet had the opportunity of discussing the talks. The total secrecy in which these talks have been surrounded, and the care that has been taken to exclude civilians, including parliamentary oversight, illustrates the military mindset, which assumes that such matters are to be handled by the military alone, to the exclusion of any other stakeholders. The TTP alone have as stakeholders the families of their victims, including the many military families impacted by the APS Peshawar massacre of 2014. Parliament not only has a representative character, but would provide a good sense of what is acceptable and what is not.

Another aspect is that of the Baloch separatists, whose recent activity against the Chinese has not only reached Karachi, but has encompassed the first female suicide bomber, which indicates that Baloch nationalists have found a new source of suicide bombers. While the military talks to the TTP through the Afghan Taliban, there is no such intermediary which would allow it to talk to the Baloch. Baloch nationalists might also find themselves goaded into more extreme acts to force talks such as those the TTP has obtained.

Any exclusion of the civilian decision-making institutions from talks will only be counter-productive. Deciding what is and isn’t in the nation’s security interests is not the job of security institutions, but of the nation’s representatives assembled in Parliament. Any failure to observe this principle, any attempt to see national interests as the preserve of the military will lead to those interests being harmed.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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