Can Pakistan discuss peace with militants?

Pakistan’s offer of genuine talks with Taliban will only bring shame and embarrassment, and no harmony or peace.

Pakistan on Saturday released a senior Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to aid the peace process with Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had demanded Baradar’s release during his visit to Pakistan late last month. Pakistan had earlier announced that Mullah Baradar would not be handed over to the Afghan government and he would be free to go anywhere.

Baradar, arrested in February 2010, is one of the founding members of the Taliban and had held several top military positions when the Taliban was in power in Kabul. He had served as deputy defence minister, corps commander Kabul and chief of military unit in Kandahar.

An All Parties Conference (APC) in Islamabad in September 2013 collectively suggested the start of talks with the Taliban to curtail militancy, i.e. ‘white-flag’ talks. This was not the first time, earlier, two APCs had attempted using anti-America policy to persuade extremists, thinking the Taliban would be pleased but all in vain, and besides ended up doing nothing against America.

Following the army’s declaration of vacating Swat-Malakand-Dir, the Taliban have killed a major general and a lieutenant colonel there.

The army has already tried its popular anti-Americanism approach in submission to its inner sentiment, but couldn’t do without the fund of $60 million a month received from the US-led Coalition Support Fund for use in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), while unnecessarily distressing a government, it considered was pro-America and pro-India.

Pakistan is ready to initiate peace talks with the Taliban then why not with its own misguided sons, the Baloch insurgents, doing terrorism in Balochistan. Maybe even the Pakistan has realised that despite the fact that both are militants, the Taliban has to be fought first because they are dogma is more threatening and aggressive.

The Taliban wants to form a state as per the beliefs of Islam listed in al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s memoir ‘The Morning and the Lamp’, where he defames Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan and crushes the Pakistani constitution article by article with Islamic argument.

However, the truth is that the Pakistan army is fighting the Taliban openly and Baloch extremists deniably as both are doing violence, and the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) is learning new tricks from the Taliban. There is nothing different in their approach- both are militants, both are funded from overseas and threaten a state that not long ago was doing the same kind of thing in other states.

But they are different in a way that the Taliban insurgents are philosophically driven and the Baloch terrorists are secular. The Taliban have the same outlook as Pakistan, and it asserts are punitive of a misguided state. While the Baloch does not echo with the Muslim mind in Pakistan, the Taliban does. The Taliban can capture the country with people’s approval and throw away its nuclear weapons, the Baloch cannot do this. The Taliban thinks they are fated to rule Pakistan; the Baloch only want to separate and become independent. Pakistan is thus more at risk by the Taliban than by Baloch separatists.

The political leaders in Pakistan may have extended hand for peace talks to the Taliban, but with continuing attacks and the radicals delivering demanding conditions for conciliations, the road to harmony seems long and convoluted one.

Although many questions are still not answered as to how will they talk, where will they talk, how will they implement any agreement and it is needed to liberate prisoners?

Furthermore, the backing of the Pakistan army, still the most influential and powerful institution in the country, for the talks process is not yet assured. Present army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will end his term in November and the name of his successor is still not known.

In an interview to an international agency, the head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party, Imran Khan said “The government has no choice (but to negotiate), this is the only solution. In the past the army did, but now the federal government should take responsibility. The authorities must use the traditional channel of tribal elders for the talks.”

Pakistan has so far freed 33 Afghan Taliban members in ten months but Pakistan’s offer of genuine talks with Taliban will only bring shame and embarrassment, and no harmony or peace.

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