Quetta blast

TTP’s return to action shows that talks are not leading to peace

The killing of four people, including a policeman, and the swift claim of responsibility by the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan, shows that the ending of the ceasefire a day before has been followed with strong action. That the blast took place in Quetta, showed that the TTP, while not restricting itself to military personnel, had an eye open on the institution fighting it, because Balochistan’s provincial capital is home not just to a corps headquarters but also a number of training institutions, such as the Command and Staff College, and the Infantry School, making Quetta more of a military town than most. The operation, a suicide blast, was probably planned before the ceasefire was broken off amid mutual recriminations about who was responsible, be that as it may, the TTP has once again shown its ability to strike in virtually any urban centre in the country.

One of the problems that has beset dealing with the TTP has been the insistence that it was a security issue, and had to be dealt with by the security agencies. Thus not only have talks been shrouded in secrecy, but they have also excluded the representatives of the people. The latest blast should have made it clear that the people are involved, because they are being killed, and it is their peace which is being threatened. A point of danger is that it is not known how much has been conceded in negotiations; it should be remembered that the TTP has made demands which only a sovereign party could make, and seemed similar to the ones by the Afghan Taliban of the USA. Does the TTP see itself as negotiating with an occupying force?

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However it sees itself, it should be clear to the Pakistani side that its approach has failed. This is not the first breakdown of the ceasefire, and if the TTP is brought back to the table, will not be the last until something new is tried. The Army has a new COAS, committed to ending interference in politics. This is an ideal opportunity to learn that civilian supremacy is not just about elections, but about security issues. Any civilian input cannot very well make matters worse, for they are already as bad as they could be. Bringing in representatives of the people, meaningfully and not as an eyewash, not only involves those who are being killed, but bring in ideas which have so far been ignored.

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

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