Talk Mantra – Giving Peace a Chance?

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The second demand, however, came from one of its members, the hot favorite of TTP, Mr. Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid, about the “Sharia” being the major point of negotiations agenda, presenting it in such a way as if it is a direct demand from TTP.

Giving Peace, Pakistan, TTP

After almost nine years of bloody insurgency against the ‘apostate government of Pakistan, while raising the slogan of Islamic order and an Islamic emirate, the TTP has finally agreed to enter into peace talks this year, amidst continuing blasts and suicide attacks.

But, let us not credit the recent attacks to the TTP’s account, as it was rightly put by the well-wishers of TTP and this country (which is quite an ironic mindset) that these attacks are carried out by some third party that is trying to sabotage the long awaited peace talks. (No conspiracy theories allowed, please!)

Why Did the Government Offer a Peace Deal?

The government suddenly offered a peace offer in the form of a committee, that too, after the Army had carried out a surgical strike in which they took out five top commanders of the TTP and allegedly killed Adnan Rasheed, supposedly the mastermind of high profile attacks in Pakistan. The other top commanders’ list suggests that the upper tier of TTP was taken out with precision and the backbone of TTP was badly hurt.

One wonders, after the successful strikes, in which the armed forces did not have to engage themselves in a full scale operation, why did the government offer such a peace deal? Also, there was a high profile arrest of Syed Abdul Wahab aka Shariq Haqqani, who was arrested from Nowsherah after a few hours of the announcement of the peace committee by the Prime Minister.

  • There is this mindset in our intelligentsia and, of course, in intelligence agencies, with a point of view that the major factions of TTP are ready to surrender, and that they are only furious because of the policies of General Musharraf that have been carried forward by the PPP/PMLN. The drone phenomenon, which in their view is an extension of Musharraf’s policies, is one of the main reasons for TTP’s existence.
  • Then there is a mindset that thinks that if the enemy is using the TTP, then why should we not use TTP against the enemy? However, they are not sure which enemy to use them against!
  • Then there is a third mindset, with a political motive, inspired somewhat by the ideology of TTP, supporting their cause in vague statements, and also posing as the well-wishers of Pakistan, in fact, representing Pakistan from their organization’s platform. This mindset is the main driving force of the general masses.
  • And lastly, the most deadly mindset, those who try to propagate against the TTP, but in doing so, they tell the general masses that TTP is such a huge power, and the tribals are such a warrior class and the Khawarij are such a brutal force, that it is a matter of days that they will take over Islamabad; therefore, they should be eliminated by using all means and methods. The efforts of those with this mindset result in the opposite by demoralizing the nation and putting them in fear of an unseen enemy.

Accumulate all the above four mindsets and assess the influence that each one of them has within our policy making lobbies and within our general masses; and the offer of the peace deal will not remain a surprise factor anymore.

Why did the TTP Accept the Offer? Show of Power or Power Falling Apart?

It is not essentially wrong to give peace a chance. But we need to figure out what will happen when this talk mantra will move on.

One thing seems to be clear, though not much agreed upon by many. The government seems to be clear about its target and about the negotiations. The push that they felt from the above four mindsets has compelled them to give peace a final chance before going out against the TTP.

The confusion is perhaps on the other side; the opposition is in a fix as to how to deal with this situation, especially when a Mehsud is not around!

One wonders why such a class of people would enter into peace talks; who knows that they are considered and taken as furious (first mindset), a weapon, or an asset (second mindset), or a pious group of people, dejected by their own government (third mindset) and/or the world’s most lethal war machinery, which cannot be stopped unless a war is waged against them (fourth mindset).

Let us analyze the scenario and things that are not presented deliberately or due to half-baked information through the media, often exploited by the media junkies of TTP like Tahir Ashrafi and Abdul Aziz.

Not many might agree with a different angle in this regard, but there are links pointing towards the notion that TTP had no other choice but to play around the talk mantra and to find its way back into the mainstream before it is too late. A few of the reasons for such an approach are:

Where is Fazlullah?

The first and foremost question that one should consider is – where is Mr. Fazlullah? Reports emerged at one time that he came back to Pakistan, but intelligence sources confirmed that he never came back, instead, TTP Shura warned him about the rifts within TTP factions, which could eventually consume him too if he would dare to step within the tribal belt, the supposedly safe haven of TTP. After Hakeemullah Mehsud, the TTP started nailing its own coffin by nominating Fazlullah as the leader of the TTP’s already disturbed factions. Mehsuds, the most powerful tribe in TTP factions did not like it at all. Fazlullah, who is still in Kunar, cannot face the TTP factions, how can he manage the talks with state machinery then?

Adnan Rasheed and the Operational Capacity of the TTP:

Although intelligence sources are still not 100% sure about the fate of Adnan Rasheed, but after a surgical strike in which they took out the top tier of TTP commanders, one wonders who is heading TTP operations. The nation has not witnessed any high profile attack by the TTP to avenge the death of Hakeemullah Mehsud, as opposed to the claims of Fazlullah after taking the TTP command in his hands. What we have witnessed so far are the soft targets, carried out at the most vulnerable places, which shows the operational capacity of TTP and the disintegration in its chain of command.

Empire after the Emperor:

The Empire of TTP was led by the most powerful tribe among the TTP factions – the Mehsuds. After Hakeemullah, the Mehsuds have lost the throne and it is evident that they are least interested in the fate of TTP.

It was little talked in our media that Asmatullah Muavia, the godfather of the Punjabi Taliban, who already surrendered principally, last year, was thrown out of the Shura during Hakeem’s era.

Fazlullah and Omar Khorasani are hiding in Kunar, facing the wrath of the Salwals of the Afghan Taliban from across the river of Kunar as well as the heat from Pakistan’s side. Hakeemullah Mehsud, the rightful emperor, however, is no more and the TTP, after its emperor being gone, is ready to surrender with the condition of immunity for most of the smaller factions.

Shura and the Committee on the Move:

The TTP could have easily rejected the offer, but they did not. Instead, the Shura nominated their well-wishers from the third mindset, who are now representing them and trying to mesmerize the nation by their moves on the media. The talk mantra is on full scale entertainment by Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid and Tahir Ashrafi of Jamia Ashrafia, and we often see some classy acts of others too.

The question is, do they want to finalize the talks on talk shows or are they actually clear about their framework?

The TTP representatives, after having meetings with the government Committee and TTP Shura, have come back with a set of demands.

Confusion and Confusion:

Firstly, that they want to meet with the PM, the COAS and the DG ISI. The second demand, however, came from one of its members, the hot favorite of TTP, Mr. Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid, about the “Sharia” being the major point of negotiations agenda, presenting it in such a way as if it is a direct demand from TTP.

On the other hand, reportedly, the Shura has agreed to continue the talks if they are provided with security, proving the fact that TTP, who once tried to take an edge by offering an iron clad security for the committees, is in no status to mend the will of the government and other stakeholders about the framework of the Constitution; thus telling a different story from what the media junkies of TTP are trying to present through different talk shows. The dichotomy of narratives about the negotiation agenda is visible and evident within the ranks of TTP and its well-wishers.

Conclusion

The only question remains, however, what if TTP is buying time to rejuvenate and strike back? If so, like the commanders warned in their corps commander meeting, that any direct aggression by the TTP will attract a direct retaliation from the security forces, is also to be seen as a final warning to the well-wishers of TTP.

Giving peace a chance is a good step, TTP and its well-wishers should make full use of it, but the indicators are pointing towards the fact that any misadventure this time will be the last nail in their coffin, keeping in view the falling status of the empire they are left with.

Comments

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Talha Ibrahim - is a certified conflict analyst of United States Institute of Peace.

Discussion4 Comments

    • All types of excuses for not implementing the Sharia. Blame anything from CIA/RAW/Mossad agents to Deobandi/Barelvi/Salafi/Shia schisms, but Sharia is a no no. Bottom line is that Sharia is not welcome. We’ll blame anything and everything to avoid it at all costs. Long live us Muslims.

  1. Talks with terrorists are useless…the west learned this years ago and now Pakistan will have have to learn this for themselves…TTP is not interested in peace…their stated goal is to bring down the Pakistan government and establish a khalifate that they control…government is being played for suckers while TTP just continue their killing and send representatives to talks…wake up Pakistan…

    • All this was hogwash. Once Iran threatened to send its army into Pak territory, Pak army with the help of ISI got its 23 kidnapped soldiers killed by TTP so that Iran could be prevented from invading Pakistan to release its border guards. This coincided with the visit of Saudi Prince further annoying Iran as Pakistan is now fully into Saudi lap.Pakistan is gambling with Iran just because its a Shia nation while Pakistan has a majority of Sunnis like Saudi Arabia. Now Pakistan is left with only one friendly neighbour China but when Uyghur will take its toll, one never knows.

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