Talking to the TTP

One Pakistani delegation is succeeded by another, but no end is in sight

Hardly had the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP)negotiators seen off the eight-member ulema delegation led by Mufti Taqi Usmani, that they prepared to receive a 17-member delegation of parliamentarians and tribal elders, headed by Barrister Muhamad Ali Saif. Though it has been claimed by Mufti Usmani that the TTP negotiators had agreed that the Pakistani constitution did not contain anything un-Islamic. He is further said to have pointed out that even if there was, that was no justification for taking up arms against the Pakistani state.

It seems that the ultimate goal, which is a peace agreement and a grand surrender ceremony, is still some way off, even though the TTP have agreed to continue the temporary ceasefire that is presently in place. The TTP has indicated that it has not conceded on any of its demands, not even on the issue of accepting the Constitution. The objection it has to the Tribal Areas forming, as they do now, part of the settled areas, probably cannot be reversed now, as that would require a constitutional amendment.

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However, a glaring omission from the negotiating process is the input that should be coming from Parliament. The attempt by the powers that be to treat the matter as one involving only the military, because the TTP was primarily fighting it, is counter-productive, for it means that the elected representatives of the people are excluded from a process of which they must take ownership. While the KP delegation led by Barrister Saif, who is an SACM, might find it easy to communicate with the TTP, the danger of the appearance of the KP conducting its own foreign policy must be avoided. So far, the TTP have proved tough and wily negotiators. No advantage must be conceded to them, especially one which might be inadvertent.

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

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