Negotiations: A Collision Course of Opposing Wills

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With the absence of a proper framework, a sound determination, clarity of future with all contingencies in place and an honest consensus amongst its own members, the Government of Pakistan has seated itself for a collision course with the TTP but forgotten to wear the seatbelts.

To defeat a narrative, one must have a counter-narrative; to defeat an ideology, one must be clear about one’s own idea; and to right the wrongs, one must be sound and determined; the government of Pakistan has none of the above. With the absence of a proper framework, a sound determination, clarity of future with all contingencies in place and an honest consensus amongst its own members, the Government of Pakistan has seated itself for a collision course with the TTP but forgotten to wear the seatbelts. The result, devastating as it is, will bear no appreciation for the efforts rendered to the service of the world in ridding it of terrorism, but will certainly bear a truckload of controversies and accusations.

When non-state actors are taken as state equals by an offer for negotiation,then the idea of negotiation itself requires a review. For all those states that fail to learn from the South American experience, the lessons are taught the hard way. Those lessons are written in blood over corpses and coffins and due care is observed that it is taught in huge numbers, often regularly. The tragic incidents that surround Pakistan are in fact the government’s inability to understand what negotiations really are. It also indicates a lack of provincial coherence and the sheer negligence of the federal government to take all the stakeholders on board according to their status.

With one member of the National Assembly proposing, rather arrogantly and stubbornly, to allow instituting offices for Taliban on the very ground they desolate, while the Government is busy elsewhere attending to more ‘urgent’ issues, there seems to be a slight hint of midterm elections. How I come to this conclusion is the way this Government went all south on every major decision they proposed to take during the course of their election campaign. With the dollar soaring like an eagle, the prices of basic commodities following suit and the state repaying debts through debts, there seems to be a bubble forming which may burst sooner than the makers think.

In all this internal quagmire of a weak economy, death and destruction, we have the TTP – an organization that has no agenda but hell-bent destruction, a band of ruffians that even the Afghan Taliban deny to have allegiance with and a group of miscreants who had ever changing paradigms till the government thought to give them what they needed; a voice and a purpose. Now that Pakistan called for negotiations with TTP, having absolutely no bargaining chips or even a slight strategic advantage, TTP starts to behave just as we usually see from across the border – absurd demands and no flexibility, coupled with immediate implementation.

So what happens when a state decides to give a group of non-state actors, parity with state machinery? What happens when negotiations are not on equal footing and it is not the government that has the higher hand? First, a Major-General is seen targeted and martyred, then a church full of innocent people is eradicated and then starts a horrendous round of explosions and countless innocent lives are lost. With the Prime Minister busy settling affairs of a more international nature, the domestic situation festers more and more.

I am in no way against negotiating or settling issues amicably to avoid unnecessary bloodshed as much as possible, but I fail to see a thorough understanding of the whole concept of negotiations. The basic requirement for negotiations to take place is following the precedent. We see that whenever TTP was given a chance to negotiate, or whenever TTP asked for negotiations, it was mostly the time when they were at their weakest and required to buy time for consolidation. When time was granted and the due dates were met, we saw a fresh wave of indiscriminate hostility from TTP, followed by massive retaliation by the government in the form of military operations, and then the circle ventures on. The Swat operation was one of the most valuable achievements by the government, when negotiations were conducted but with them was a full and complete contingency that was so well-orchestrated that as soon as the negotiations went down and the TTP initiated terror tactics, the government immediately seized the moment and knocked TTP out of their shoes.

The present time, however, is different. The government resorted to pacification of the dispute at a time when the TTP and other terrorist entities were in a sense of victory in shape of the 2014 withdrawal, which they saw as their triumph over America and other superpowers. Induced in superiority complex of actually winning the Afghan War, they became bolder and their activities in Pakistan became intense. With such spirits and the offer to negotiate with no proper offers and counteroffers, the whole idea of ‘sitting down together and talking’ seems gloomy for the common man.

With the Prime Minister asking for disarmament to proceed to negotiations and the TTP alleging that the Prime Minister ‘does not seem serious to sit down and talk’, hopes of pacification seem to be fading. Noteworthy is the behavior of major members of the General Assembly namely Pakistan, the US and India. Where Mr. Manmohan Singh states that there is ‘little hope to be attached’ on any positive and progressive talks with Mr. Nawaz Sharif and puts forth his suggestion to Pakistan to ‘close all factories of terror’ aimed at India, he forgets his own domestic communal issues and the massacres thereof. The government of Pakistan, under all these criticisms and pressures, seems to be showing signs of strain and fatigue.

So what happens when wills collide? We see that one party, be it either the maker or the acceptor of negotiations, must have a higher ground. When it is based on metaphysical ideologies bearing concrete physical and tangible repercussions and fissures, the strength of the narrative matters most. Popularity has no significant value when both sides are on equal footing in terms of public distrust. In case of the TTP and Pakistan, we see the absence of flexibility on both sides and complete disregard of each other; the result we get is the status quo. So let us dissect both the parties one by one and see what the prognosis is.

A band of retreating individuals, mostly foreigners that found refuge in the tribal areas of Pakistan by bypassing the state machinery, starts to assume the duties of ‘cleansing’ the locals by their own version of religious interpretations. They receive a proper treatment, fit for such miscreants, and soon they begin to grow weak, resorting to asymmetric tactics of terror by suicide bombing and planting IEDs. With the Afghan withdrawal nearing, they realize that their chances of returning to Afghanistan and finding an adequate spot in the limelight are slim as other entities, far more powerful, will assure so. So they decide to remain in Pakistan and continue to dominate by claiming responsibility for almost everything that keeps them at celebrity level.

On the other hand, we have the government that transited from the country’s first ever democratic completion of tenure and swept the seats of authority as compared to their contenders. However, like previous election trends, we see rather rebellious provincial arrangements, not ready to think of the greater good, aiming at self-glorification and showing complete incoherence. With the Center focused completely on itself, the State moves to negotiate without any consensus of common counter narrative.

In light of the above assessments, the negotiations may display two effects; either provision of ample time for the TTP to consolidate and subsequent increase in hostility or a zigzag military aimed at short term achievements and no prominent long-term impact. Either way, the situation for the local people remains the same – suicide attacks on one side and military operations on the other.

So what can be the possible amendments to avoid such outcomes? First things first, there must be an implementation of regulatory checks and balances on private media corporations that have induced so much apathy and have desensitized the nation so much that Pakistan seems to be nothing but a cesspool of negativity. This serves not only overt terrorist agendas by allowing them to manipulate anti-government sentiments, but also serves covert agendas of neutralizing Pakistan by declaring it a failed state with nuclear weapons.

Secondly, there must be a proper counterterrorist strategy that must have a combination of short-term and long-term objectives, and the implementation of this strategy must not stop till the objectives are met. Where Pakistan ranks terrorism to be the third in its primary concerns, superseded by electricity crisis and economic debt, the behavior of the government depicts it much lower. To achieve this, the Government should institute mechanisms that eradicate provincialism and ethnic/linguistic sentiments, and any official violating the same, be it from the Government or the opposing benches, must be severely dealt with and condemned unanimously.

Thirdly, if negotiations are to take place with TTP, there must be controlled flexibility and proper contingency plans if the negotiations break down. The Government should take this from the get go that the negotiations will eventually break down and the TTP will naturally allege the Government for doing so to create a justification for retaliation. Pakistan must also take it into due consideration that even though the peacetime would be a chance of consolidation for the TTP, they must show compliance to the cause and must also prepare for the worst case scenario.

Finally, synchronization is the key to success. As Sun Tzu stated, ‘Know your enemy, know yourself and you will win a thousand battles’, there should just be complete precision in implementation, and any components that offer de-synchronization must either be corrected or replaced to allow a smooth fulfillment of objectives. If there is to be a subsequent military action in case of the disintegration of negotiations, the armed forces and the government must have ample domestic confidence of the areas to be operated on, and the local populace must be taken in a position to side with the Government which would allow minimum manipulation by the TTP, eventually discouraging their attempts to initiate resistance.

is a Masters in Strategic and Nuclear Studies from the National Defense University. He can be reached on m.sharrehqazi@hotmail.com

Discussion7 Comments

  1. You missed out the most important part. The biggest reason for the disconnect in domestic policy and military policy is the amount of misinformation spread by people within Pakistan – just like this website.

    If you go with the assumption that the TTP is a terrorist organisation funded only by RAW, CIA and Israel – which seems to be the common narrative, there is importance in a military step to destroy the organisation completely.

    However, if these are indeed a domestic offshoot of a movement of violence sponsored by Pakistan from the mid 1990s, then it is time to talk to them without using a military sledgehammer.

    These are completely different options – the question is, do Pakistanis even know what is reality any more and what is fiction?

    However – this is probably the best write-up I’ve read here in a while. My compliments.

    • Mr bum man,

      There is no disconnect between the united front of the people of Pakistan and the military of Pakistan.

      Had there been such a disconnect, we would be Syria, we would be Libya long before those western, Zionist manufactured conflicts even started.

      The only people your kind have infiltrated are the already corrupt, those who would sell their own mothers to stay on top and have sold their souls to the devil himself.

      A handful of media pundits who exercise YOUR narrative, a handful of academics, self declared experts of Pakistan, a whole lot of politicians while those who stand united against the manufactured threat are dying.

      Afghanistan has a whole lot of good people too inseparable with Pakistan by blood. Afghanis misled will slowly and shortly realise they have been misled and responsible for the deaths of innocent Muslims.

      The thing about the mighty Pashtuns that you do not realise lost in your narrative and interpretations of history is;

      Whenever they have been the victim, antagonised and attacked they fight back and this is among the reasons why wave after wave of these brave people have given birth to the term HinduKush.

      Your kind have altered the path and destiny of The Afghans, a place where revenge is part of the culture and history. The Afghanistan of the 50’s 60’s 70’s has long gone.

      They will. Come seeking retribution and your kind have only yourself to blame for the changing face of Central Asia. Central Asians are a fierce people, an imperial people but also by organised and martial race.

      Lets hope the monstrous TTP members change their ways and realise they have been doing the devils dirty work.

  2. The irony is that every time TTP makes these announcement it is in days followed by an American response.

    Americans have captured TTP number 2 inside Afghanistan after he left secret talks with Afghan intelligence.

    So question is who are TTP handlers then ?

    Elements in Karzai government certainly in Afghan intelligence and America.

    Karzai has denied Sanctuary to the enemies of Pakistan as has Afghan intelligence. USA has always said TTP is not their priority but always target them soon after talks of Peace with Pakistan.

    For those sceptical of claims that TTP is a proxy aligned to foreign governments to destabilise Pakistan should be of no doubt.

    The Afghan government and the USA are unable to broker talks let alone find the real Taliban by this I mean Afghan Taliban seem quite in the know of where top TTP commanders are and in this instance can have top level discussions.

    I hope supporters of the vile TTP read into recent events a d give serious introspection into my claim, “who are TTP handlers”

    Afghanistan
    USA
    India

    Or all 3 and exact what has been claimed by pkkh and other pro Pakistan blogs.

    I hope these techno savvy terrorists are even reading this and with a little Akel realise as a proxy you have to be neutralised by your handlers when?

    1. Your campaign ends for your handlers
    2. When elements in your horrid group realise what they are doing is uninslamic, and seek peacce.
    3. At any point you are your terrorist commanders think off or talk of peace.

    TTP are puppets while others pull your strings to destabilise Pakistan and after the Afghan war there will be no place for such proxies and when the foreign funding and security ends. You will be hunted however cunning you think you are, you will be rooted from your lairs and neutralise as enemies of Pakistan but also a Ross the border by your supposed friends and handlers as you will have served a purpose.

    • The TTP will be hunted on both sides of the border.
      There is no space for peace for a vile group like TTP that is un Islamic to the core a d very much the physical embodiment of the Shayateen in men.

      But as muslim we hope they may change as individuals and disband and disappear or support the just cause.

    • don’t forget that in addition to cia, raw and blackwater/xe (or whatever it’s calling itself these days)the mossad has also penetrated pakistan. the proof is in the terrorist organization jundullah. mossad agents posed as cia agents and told jundullah to carry out attacks in iran from pakistan. there was even a pakistani network working for the mossad caught back in january.

      btw the US wants to keep a “small” presence in afghanistan. and india will still be there after the pull-out. it’s not like it’s going to immediately pack it’s bags and run. it is very possible that they would continue to support ttp unless they are kicked out fully.

  3. It is interesting that after bomb man identified the problem of Pakistan being subject to misinformation regarding so called CIA/rawmossad conspiracy theory…Aransaralhaq immediately repeated this same lie again…stop the theories and examine the facts…90 per cent of world heroin comes from Afganistan, most of it from Taliban controlled territories…Afgan Taliban admitted that it is giving money to the TTP…no 2 TTP man was caught while trying to buy release of prisoners…where did he get this money?…from the Afgan Taliban who is getting rich on drug profits!…You want to know who is controlling the TTP in Pakistan?…it is clearly the Afgan Taliban ! The same people who NATO is fighting and USA is sending drones to stop…it is not now nor has it ever been the CIA/RAW/ Mossad…those who repeatedly say this are Taliban propaganda spreaders who have confused Pakistan about who their real enemy is……….

    • So why have Afghan Taliban attacked TTP in Kunar region and their hideouts in the dangeorus Wakhan Pass?

      Why has the supreme leader of Afghan Taliban – Mullah Omar has disassociated witht hem and declared them an enemy if they continue to fight Muslims and kill pakistanis.

      Read Bob Woodward’s book – who is that 2000-3000 strong Afghan death squad used to destabilised Pakistan if not TTP.

      Why has America refused to attack TTP hideouts when called upon by Pakistan military but immediately a TTP devil releases sound bites about reconciliation, America launches an attack.

      Karzai govmnt and RAM in Afghanistan had zero collateral or avenues to open dialogue with the Afghan Taliban yet very easily found Latif Mehsud?

      What collateral does an incompetent Afghan govnmt and intelligence agency have over TTP. Afghan taliban refuse dialogue with Karzai and RAM operatives and have said they will continue to fight them.

      Yet TTP is open to talks with Afghan intelligence and government?
      TTP has only launched attacks on Pakistan using sophisticated weapons including night vision capability, co ordinated attacks with detailed maps available to a scope exercise of an intelligence organisation and not a rag tag group of mercenaries like TTP.

      So what’s going on here.

      Certain foreign powers hate the fact Pakistan has influence over Afghan Taliban or atleast channels of communication yet they the real Taliban despise all foreign elements inside their country.
      Hawks in Washington, India and Mossad follow the Roger Blackwill failed plan, which is a prolonged American presence in Afghanistan. Afghanistan divided along ethnic lines and continued attacks and destabilisation of Pakistan.

      The only defence in pakistan is as someone pointed out a united front between Pakistani people and Pakistani military.

      How do they divide this?

      Through misinformation, to delude the ordinary Pakistani that Afghan Taliban and TTP are one and the same, so Pakistani population turn on the military and support the corrupt government to curb their powers and push the agenda of the enemies of Pakistan.

      India with her false flag threat alerts in kashmir releasing sound bites off Pakistani Muajhadeen inside Kashmir. The TTP a collective name for terror groups working inside Pakistan to destabilise Pakistan have increased the killing of innocent Pakistanis indiscriminately, regardless of faith and location.

      There is but one solution:

      If TTP fighters can see sense, must recognise their leaders are agents of foreign nations seeking to subjugate Afghanistan and continue the invasion of Afghanistan for another 50 years and seeking a fragmented Pakistan.

      If NOT then they the TTP must be extinguished, expunged by the full force of Pakistani Military, air, ground and covert ops aligned to our brave tribal fighters.

      There must be a zero tolerance policy on them and until the Afghans stop giving sanctuary to these convicts and Americans focus drone attacks on these terrorists – Pakistan should once more seal the border and hunt them down.

      The TTP fighters should also be aware that when the dust settles in Afghanistan, their leaders will abandon them and they the TTP fighters will be erased by their handlers across the border and continued to be hunted down inside Pakistan.

      Eddied and Bombman follow the narrative of the very nations who arm, fund and co-ordinate the TTP. The TTP who are liars and have no association of any of the groups under the umbrella Afghan Muajahdeen including Afghan taliban and other groups fighting occupation and foreign forces.

      The TTP have “never” atatcked foreign targets only target pakistani civilians.

      The only credible evidence they have is from the TTP themselves whose leaders known for his less than 100% truthful statements has said they are one and the same as Afghan Taliban and are financed by them.

      No such statement has come from Afghan Taliban who fight using less sophisticated weapons then TTP.

      There have been many clashes between TTP fighters and Afghan taliban only days ago 100’s of Afghan Taliban fighters launched an offensive on TTP fighters to expell them from their hideouts in the kunar region.

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