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Negotiate with Taliban? – by Anas Muhammad

In a recent press conference Mian Nawaz Sharif – the head of the largest opposition Party Pakistan Muslim

League-N (PMLN) – claimed that terrorism in Pakistan is a result of government’s foreign policies. Sharif made the commen

ts two days after two terrorist suicide bombers had attacked the most popular Sufi shrine in Punjab. The province that his party controls.

While attacking the federal ministers for criticizing his party’s provincial government’s failure to stop the attacks, Sharif replied with his own criticism on the federal governments’ foreign policy. Rather than giving solutions and answering why his government fails to provide security in the province they control, he blamed the federal government for not sharing the right intelligence. While it is on record that intelligence over all past incidences have been shared with the provincial government.

Nawaz Sharif and his party is believed to have ties to various terrorist organizations in the past. Sharif had alegedly met Osama Bin Laden, who funded his party to oppose and weaken the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s government.

On the other hand Imran Khan – the head of another right-wing political party Pakistan Tereek-e-Insaf (PTI) – also related terrorism in Pakistan to government’s alliance with United States. He Stated that:

the government of Pakistan [is] a slave of the US and added that the ongoing terrorism in the country would continue until Washington stopped meddling in the internal affairs of Islamabad – Dawn News

This same rhetoric has also been used by religious parties to criticize the federal government of Pakistan Peoples Party. The religious parties along with PMLN and PTI has criticized the government’s decision to take the war to taliban’s doorsteps in Pakistan’s western bordders, and have suggested negotiations with the terrorist organizations as an alternative.

Every now and then the rightist – PMLN, PTI, and religious parties – cite unconfirmed news stories on Afghanistan and American government’s policy to negotiate with taliban as an example for Islamabad to follow. However in the past government of Pakistan has negotiated with the Pakistani Taliban, only to see negotiations fail, or the taliban breaking the agreement to further their aims.

The situation in Afghanistan is different and incomparable to Pakistan. In Afghanistan, America is a foreign force and the taliban are a political reality. Having ruled Afghanistan, the talibans have political stakes in the country. If Americans or Kabul decides to negotiate with the reconcilable taliban, that would be in the interest of all parties and the future of Afghanistan. It would be to end war in Afghanistan and leave the country in a governable situation.

Contrary to that, Pakistani taliban are not a political reality, but rather an illegal militia. There are no grounds for negotiations with the Pakistani taliban or any other terrorist organization inside Pakistan. They don’t have a constituency or a vote bank for that matter.

Although the Pakistani taliban cannot be negotiated with, there are political players which can be. For which Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani has called for an APC (all parties conference). So the taliban’s like-minded political parties can also be consulted in a discussion to formulate a national anti-terror policy.

One can only hope that the rightist parties will not derail the agenda of the conference just to get their absurd anti-USA policy agreed upon. Rather focus on a strong policy that strictly deals with terrorism inside Pakistan and suggests ways to tackle it. Part of the solution would be for the right-wing parties to shun their alliances with any sort of extremist organization and allow government along with law enforcing agencies to take conclusive actions against those who operate on Pakistani soil.

Also Published @ Foreign Policy Association

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  • Shaaairrrr! (LION) is very common chant if you happen to follow PML –N in election days. Of course after getting elected, their MPS’s and MNA’s never visit their constituencies because either they are busy with their “degrees” or they fall in the laps of banned out fits leaders say, ludhianvi. Ok, so lets not go into the biased and provocative stuff here. So, the point of this post is that what exactly a “Shaaair” means? According to what most of us learn in our homes, schools and now from “Tere Mutabiq” and “Aaj shahrukh Khan kay saath” etc, “Shaaair” is associated with someone who is very brave, possesses a charismatic personality and the bottom line is, have the guts to come out and prove his/her worth. You can find these Shaaaairs in certain areas in Pakistan: Chirya Ghar, Circus and Raiwind to name a few. So Let’s see how our Shaaair’s from Raiwind prove their valor, bravery and charisma in Pakistan:

    1. They come to power through “hidden” doors riding on a dictator’s back.
    2. They abuse a woman politician in large congregations and then flood crocodile tears on her death.
    3. They “request” the terrorists to spare their province.
    4. They strike deals with Dictators to leave for Jeddah
    5. When it comes to degrees, most of their MNAs and MPAs fake them.
    6. They come out to support Judas, oh sorry, judiciary, in long march. But they win elections on Fake degrees and take “free” power from WAPDA lines for their “Awami Jalsaas” because they love Justice!
    7. They frame cases on people and accept it and then deny it. I mean the curious case of Saif-Ur-Rehman and her Mother asking for apologies confirmed by 3 Media personnel is an awesome example.
    8. They are friends with some high-level Justice deliverers and thump their chests on that.

    So we see that these “Shaaairs” are filled with “leadership” abilities! Next time you listen “Shaair”, you will know what I mean!

  • Munafiqat Apni akhri hadon ko cho rahi hay

    Its black water not Taliban BUT negotiate with Taliban to bring the peace and stop bombing ….

    In Sawat It was propaganda,Actully Hindu Zionist were blowing the schools and killing people ,Qazi Hussain along with other JI members are witnesses that they have seen uncircumcised bodies which proved that they were Operating in Sawat ………….BUT…………. Sawat main aman kay liyeh Taliban Say Muzakrat karo …..Taliban ki shariat nafiz karo .
    Hindu ,Jews were in Sawat but Operation band karo werna Taliban ki taraf say reaction ga .

    There is No Taliban in Punjab (NS ,SHahbaz Sharef )
    Taliban Punjab ka rukh na karain (Shahbaz shareef )
    Taliban aur alqaida naam ki koi cheez pakistan main hay hi nahi (Imran khan 3 years ago )
    Taliban say Muzakrat karay baghair pakistan main aman ho hi nahi sakta (imran khan )

    Saray dhamakon kay pechay amrika mulawis hay (munawer Hasan )
    Yeh Dhamakay Amrika kay drones attack kay reaction main hain (munawer hasan )

  • Kamran Shafi wrote this in his column. I thought its related to the article. He says about taliban / extremists:
    “And then we are told that they should be brought to the negotiating table. Are these the sort of people who will listen to reason? Is this beast to be trusted, especially when you speak to him from a position of confirmed weakness? To negotiate what? The terms of surrender of the state? How much more harm must come to the people of Pakistan before those who matter realise that what is going on is a planned takeover of the state by the barbarians?”

  • Farhan Q,
    Excellent, you’ve rightly pointed out hypocrisy of Taliban apologists !!!!

  • Excellent post Anas… NS is the most overrated politician in our country. As he for his speaking skills is the most incompetent politician in Pakistan. Am amazed how he twist his arguments when his highness Ch. Nisar give a political statement and after that NS will commend him… Playing in the hands of Hawks..

  • I am staunchly opposed to hold any negotiations with Taliban, as by holding talks with them we give them the legitimacy that they crave for. They are not a stakeholder and talks can only materialize if the lay down their weapons and join the political setup.

  • anas one thing i disagree with in your article is the idea that the Afghan Taliban are a political reality which must be negotiated with while the Pakistani Taliban are simply terrorists. Why the double standard? I’m afraid that by tacitly supporting the GHQ’s policy of reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban the PPP government is as guilty as Nawaz Sharif is of promoting talks with the Pakistani Taliban.

  • I agree Rabia, Afghan taliban, being a terrorist organization, must be dealt the same way. Their status as a legitimate force would depend on their attitude. If they lay down the arms, get into mainstream Afghan setup, and work as a political party. But that is to be determined by the stake holders, especially the Afghan people in election polls.

    However no criminal element should be allowed in political setup, anyone with blood on their hands should go through Afghan courts, and be punished accordingly.

    Pakistan has also said, if terrorist organizations – inside Pakistan – turn themselves over to the government, then they will be given a chance to integrate back into society, which is after they go through courts for any potential punishments for their crimes.

    So I am not suggesting any amnesty. But these are the options on the table. =)