As expected the Taliban have shown their true colors and intentions. By refusing to free Shahbaz Taseer and Gilani they have tacitly admitted that they kidnap Pakistan citizens or have them kidnapped through their proxies. This implies that they are fully involved in the extortion and armed dacoities throughout Pakistan. Will these activities stop even if the talks succeed by some miracle? It is well known that car lifting and kidnapping for ransom was periodically undertaken by tribesmen earlier but in those days there was an administration in FATA that dealt with all such criminal activity. Now FATA is lawless and copy cat carjacking, kidnapping and robberies are being committed all over the country—ask the businessmen in Sialkot or Lahore who quietly pay up because retribution for reporting to the police can be swift and merciless besides being futile.
The Taliban have also asked for a ‘peace zone’ to be declared in which they can move freely. This comes from those who have killed 50000 Pakistanis and committed unspeakable atrocities. A peace zone if established will amount to ceding a part of Pakistan to the TTP and it is the TTP that will rule there with the tacit approval of Pakistan. This zone will be a magnet for all criminals’ country wide as well as internationally. Can we afford to do this? Instead of mainstreaming themselves they are asking for territory to establish and then expand. We will be laying the seeds for the mother of all insurgencies if we ever agree to this demand.
Imran Khan has now stated that the Taliban do not want to impose Sharia by force. Really? What have they been doing so far? Why are they opposed to the state of Pakistan whom they call an ally of the US and therefore their enemy? How does Imran Khan know what they want?
Talks are good if they are for negotiating. Talks are useless if they are for stating demands. Talks are doubly useless if one side has ulterior motives. So far the talks have been useless. There could be a dramatic breakthrough but that is unlikely. More likely is a breakdown leading to a resumption of violence. And it is likely that the first person to see through the TTP game and call it a day will be the only real interlocutor we have—Rustam Shah Mohmand. The break will not come from the Taliban because they are on to a good thing with opportunities to sow discord among our institutions like the demand for women and children and ‘non-combatants ‘ held by the ISI and military!!. For the people it is mind boggling that we can talk to the TTP but are bent on a trial for Musharaff!