Shameful capitulation

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Articles
Saturday, 25 January 2014

imrankhan1HALF the battle was lost long ago when our national leaders embraced the militant narrative and legitimised violence. Now it is complete capitulation. So, it doesn’t matter how many more people are killed, religious places bombed or soldiers blown up; it is not our war anyway.

Murderers claim responsibility, even come live on TV talk shows to flaunt their views. Never mind, they are our misguided brothers just angered by the presence of US forces across the border and the drone strikes killing their leaders.

Forget the thousands of innocent lives lost in the terrorist attacks; forget soldiers and police officers killed in the line of duty; forget the teenager from Hangu who gave his life to save his schoolmates from a suicide bomber — we must talk to those angry fellows and address their grievances. “Give peace a chance” is now a favourite mantra to justify capitulation. Dialogue is the only option, they chant in unison. But whom are we talking to? The shadows?

After assuring the nation for the past seven months that a negotiated peace was very much possible, the government now wears a sorry face desperately looking for someone to bail it out. It is now trying to outsource the talks to leaders of Islamic parties with known connections to militant outfits. But that too does not seem to be working, with the Taliban raising the stakes taking advantage of the government bending over backwards to please them.

Even though there isn’t the remotest sign of talks getting off the ground the prime minister is still living in a world of delusions. Despite the repeated rebuff by the Taliban, he insists that the option of dialogue could prove the best strategy to resolve the prevailing situation. What Mr Sharif cannot or rather does not want to understand is that this strategy has long failed. Ludicrous as it may sound, the Sharif government still wants us to believe that talks can bring peace and stability to the country while the militants keep attacking our security forces. Mr Sharif’s persevering with his flawed views and thinking that the problem would somehow go away has already cost the nation hugely in terms of lives as well as internal stability. The attack on a security forces’ convoy in Bannu that killed around two dozen soldiers is a glaring example of the growing brazenness of the Taliban.

Soon after the Bannu incident, a spokesman for the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan extended a conditional talk offer sending a clear message that the group wants to negotiate from a position of strength and on its own conditions. This is a ploy often used by militants to divide public opinion. But trust the government and other apologists of the Taliban to conveniently fall for it.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Sharif government may go to any extent to make a deal with the Taliban provided Punjab is not targeted. This policy threatens the unity of the country. The latest terrorist attack in Rawalpindi, however, shows that even Punjab is not safe. It is an extremely dangerous situation in which the federal government seeks to negotiate with leaders of the TTP who have been booked by the Sindh government for the murder of Chaudhry Aslam who headed the provincial anti-terrorism campaign.

So desperate is the government to placate the Taliban that it is now seeking the help of people like Maulana Samiul Haq and Munawar Hasan with known sympathy for the militants for illusionary talks to materialise. These two men may speak on behalf of the Taliban, but could hardly be considered honest peace brokers. How can one forget the Jamaat-i-Islami chief declaring Hakeemullah Mehsud a martyr? Not surprisingly, the TTP wanted him to be one of the guarantors for talks.

The credentials of Samiul Haq are no less dubious. The head of one of the country’s most radical Islamic seminaries, which is also often described as the university for jihad, the cleric unabashedly flaunts his connections with the militant groups.

It is not just the federal government that is to be blamed, but Imran Khan with his toxic narrative is equally responsible for the shameful surrender. There is no ambiguity about which side of the conflict he stands. In fact, the PTI leader is the most vocal advocate of the Taliban cause. Escalating incidents of terrorist attacks in KP are largely the manifestation of the pro-Taliban stance of the provincial government.

The ministers come to the defence of the Taliban after each terrorist attack. This attitude has completely demoralised the provincial law enforcement agencies. The PML-N and the PTI may be locked in a fierce power battle in Punjab, but both parties have a common stance on talks with the Taliban.

Now there is a move to call a new all-party conference as the macabre dance of death continues. It is very obvious that APCs are meant to escape the responsibility to take decisions on critical policy issues. It has been several months now since the leaders of the political parties last met and mandated the government to start dialogue with the militants. But predictably nothing happened. It will be another exercise in futility delaying any action.

Seven months of inaction has already allowed the militants not only to increase terrorist attacks in KP, but also turn Karachi into their new battleground. Even Punjab is now feeling the heat with the latest terrorist attack in Rawalpindi. These are the perils of capitulation.

The writer is an author and journalist.

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