Taliban Winning the War of Nerves in Pakistan


Pakistan Taliban are winning the war of nerves in Pakistan at an alarming pace. They (TTP) have claimed responsibility for the recent bomb attack on a Sindh police bus in Karachi. By carrying out this attack against the police in Karachi, the largest city and the commercial hub of Pakistan, Taliban have once again shown their prowess and resolve to strike wherever and whenever, they want. 17 policemen have been martyred while 55 are injured, some of them critical. The death toll is expected to rise.

This attack comes at a time when peace talks between the government and the Taliban have begun. The recent attack exposes the charade of the peace talks and the hypocrisy involved in the whole process. Ceasefire is the third demand on the 15 point agenda put forward by the  Taliban, while it is the first point on the list of negotiators representing the government. Ever since the beginning of the peace talks process, there has been a significant rise in the attacks on civilians on the part of the Taliban. Before today,though, the Taliban did not claim responsibility for these attacks, for instance, the multiple bombings in Peshawar, including the one in a Peshawar cinema hall.

The first two demands of the Taliban negotiators are, the introduction of Sharia in Pakistan and the release of the imprisoned comrades and family members of the Taliban, in the custody of the security agencies, including the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence). The security agencies, it appears are not on the same page as the government of Pakistan Muslim League, Nawaz (PML-N). If on the one hand the Taliban have increased their targeted attacks  so have the security agencies. It appears a tit for tat scenario. As far as the security agencies are concerned, they are blamed by the Taliban for killing their comrades in extra-judicial encounters. A charge which the agencies deny. The bitter reality is that this is so because the Taliban are gradually but surely winning the war of nerves being waged in Pakistan.

The Pakistan army has also increased its monitoring and are all set to attack the Taliban in Malakand division of Khyber Pukhtunkhawa (KP) and  North Waziristan, the tribal home base of TTP. In such a volatile situation, the question being asked is whether both sides are interested in achieving peace or both. in fact, are biding time, a sort of lull before the storm. Whatever the actual case it is unfortunate that the civilians are suffering at mass-scale.

It is tragic that on an hourly basis the government is losing ground to the belligerent Taliban. The recent incidents reinforce the fact that there is no government writ in Pakistan. The government is a helpless spectator and is not only losing political ground to the Taliban but its relevance in the eyes of its population and the international community as well. The Prime Minister Nawaz is on a foreign visit to Turkey, where the situation back home is bound to come up to which he has no answers to give except worn-out, hollow assurances to the world community ones.

Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman the head of JUI-F is of the confirmed view that the key to the whole Pakistan-Taliban peace talks and their success or failure lies with Pakistan army. Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned politician  and the head of PTI, the opposition party governing the beleaguered KP province, in his recent statements has stressed that there are national and international anti-Pakistan forces bent to derail the peace process. Adding fire to fuel is inaccurate reporting by some segments of the national and international media.

The reality in Pakistan today is that the Taliban have proved themselves better prepared than the government and it security apparatus.  A very dangerous situation because Pakistan is a nuclear armed state and if this asset gets into the wrong hands, it could spell inevitable doom for the whole world. Taliban are winning the war of nerves in Pakistan as the government watches on as a helpless spectator.

By iftikhar Tariq Khanzada


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The Express Tribune