In what appears to be a tit-for-tat move, a fringe group of the Taliban has executed 23 Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel in the Mohmand Agency of Pakistan. The militant group wanted to avenge the extra-judicial killings of 23 militants held by Pakistani security agencies. The events in past weeks have reinforced the view that talks are futile, and the only option left is a major military strike against TTP. The martyred FC men had been held hostage by the Taliban since 2010.
The government of Nawaz Sharif had opened negotiation channels with the Taliban a few weeks ago, to hash out a peace accord with the insurgents but the situation is not moving forward as anticipated. The main reason for this is that different groups of the Pakistani Taliban have not stalled their heinous activities, even as TTP is engaged with the government negotiators in talks.
Even after the news of the execution of 23 FC personnel by the Taliban fringe group, Imran Khan, the chairman of PTI, still hopes that a peaceful solution can be reached between the government and the militants. He stresses that there are national and international forces at work which don’t want these talks to succeed. The Obama administration also desperately wants some sort of security accord between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan before the foreign troops pull out of the region. It was at the insistence of Obama’s administration that the government initiated the peace talks with the militants.
The truth is that there are so many militant fringe groups and after what happened Monday, it is evident that not all of these groups are under the control of TTP. Hence, it is proving virtually impossible to ascertain whom to invite to the peace talks, so that some tangible results can be achieved. Not only the government but the Taliban is in a fix. More than 100 people, mostly security personnel, have died since the peace talks began on Jan. 28, after many delays. While a guarded estimate 40,000 people have died since 2007, when the insurgency started, and was at its peak around 2009, when the Taliban declared the Malakand division of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) an independent state.
The major reason the present peace talks are proving futile is the visible indifference of the Pakistani army. Although the army is not against the present talks, it is not entirely backing the government. It is a known fact in Pakistan that unless and until the army gives a positive nod of approval, this peace process will be an exercise in futility as it has proven to date. Some powerful elements in the Pakistani army are against this peace talk process as they are of the confirmed view that the Taliban only understands the language of force and it is only through a military option that this menace can be first curbed and consequentially eliminated for good. The recent barbaric killings of 23 FC personnel by the Pakistani Taliban have been instrumental in further hardening the resolve of the Pakistani army to avenge the killings of its fellow soldiers.
Editorial by Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada
Times of India