The nation was told by former PM Imran Khan in October last year that talks were under way with the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP). After that there was a total silence regarding how the talks were proceeding. Whatever information came about the now on, now off ceasefire was from Afghan sources like Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani. In June this year the TTP’s statement refusing to budge from its demand for the reversal of FATA’s merger into KP created worries in Pakistan’s political circles and media. Reports of a possible amnesty for TTP men responsible for the massacre of innocent schoolchildren and attacks on unsuspecting citizens and men in uniform led the PPP to express concern in Parliament. It was decided in July that talks with the proscribed TTP were to be held only under the framework of the Constitution.
This did not end the secrecy surrounding the talks. A perception was meanwhile created that things were under control and there was no need to worry. This was done despite increasing reports about terrorists establishing their presence in Swat and the Southern districts of KP. Protest rallies held across Swat against the recent ‘wave of militancy’ were dubbed as attempts to spread sensationalism. ISPR rejected as baseless the reports about the TTP running amok in Swat.
And now we are being told that there is stalemate in talks with the TTP and there is a possibility of terrorist attacks. There was a need to have taken notice of the terrorist infiltration months back, rather than to play it down, as was done. It appears that after the failure of talks the Interior Ministry would be required to hold the baby. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has issued a nationwide alert asking for ‘extreme vigilance’, instructing that targeted search and strike missions be carried out wherever militant activity is reported. There is a need to provide assistance to the Interior Ministry and upgrade civilian intelligence agencies with the latest equipment to enable them to collect real time actionable information ato conduct intelligence based operations.