Yet again the Awami National Party (ANP) led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has made a peace talk offer to tribal areas based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership. The offer was made by the Spokesman of KP government and provincial Information Minister, Mian Iftikhar Hussain. He made the offer on the occasion of the second death anniversary of his lone son, Mian Rashid Hussan, who was killed by TTP militants in his native Pabbi village near Peshawar.
While making the offer Mian Iftikhar Hussain said he was even ready to forgive the killers of his son for the sake of peace in the region. As far as the spirit of Mr. Hussain to restore peace is concerned there cannot be two opinions that it is indeed a significant offer. It is really difficult for a father to show such magnanimity for the betterment of his community.
However, the offer of talks to the TTP is conditional. The minister has set the condition that before the talks the TTP fighters have to give up arms and recognize constitution and law of the land. In response the government of KP or to be precise the ANP would forgive the blood of hundreds of its leaders and workers who have been killed by the TTP. Seemingly the conditions are such that accompany the offer themselves forestall the prospect of any talks for the restoration of peace, let alone meaningful one. The TTP is a terrorist group which could not be expected to give up arms. In fact, typically groups who have been waging a separatist insurgency could be anticipated to shun violence. But the TTP is not a separatist group. Moreover, the TTP cannot be reconciled to accept law and constitution of the land. Because apart from its oft-repeated justification of Pakistan alliance with the US against Taliban for its resorting to violence, the TTP has a full-fledge agenda of overrunning the state and its constitutional and legal structures. Against this backdrop it is more than evident that the TTP would rubbish the talk offer from the ANP.
Perhaps Mian Iftikhar and his government know this well and therefore, while making the talk offer he simultaneously reiterated the resolve of the provincial government that if terrorists were not ready to shun violence they would be talked with full force. However, this does not make sense that the ANP has only six months maximum to rule and it would be up to the next government how to tackle the situation.
It may be mentioned that, in the past too, the ANP government led by Chief Minister Amir Haider Hoti has time and again made several peace talk offers to the TTP without getting any response.
When for the first time the ANP had offered peace talks to the TTP they were also conditions. At that time the offer had surprised many observers that what the party, which has been in the forefront in Pakistan against the War on Terror, has in mind while making the offer. The offers to TTP have been made by ANP head, Asfandyar Wali and CM Hoti personally.
The recent offer of talk to the insurgents by the ANP is surprising because of late important leaders of the party have been claiming that Khyber-Pakhtunkwha (KPK), has been purged of TTP insurgents while the latter are also on the run in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). ANP heads a coalition government with PPP in KPK while it is also the only major coalition party in the centre besides also part of coalition government in Sindh and Balochistan. So when the ANP itself is claiming that insurgents are fleeing what is the rationale of offering them talks. Because, from the claims of the ANP one can construe that the government has regained its lost writ vis-à-vis TTP insurgents in KPK and FATA. If this is really the case then the government should talk from a position of strength rather than from a position of weakness.
Surprisingly, the ANP leaders have also been telling behind the scenes that insurgents have been defeated a great deal and now only it is the matter of mopping them up. One hardly believes these claims of the party and one has sufficient reasons for this.
Firstly, TTP continues to stage large-scale terrorist attacks in the country. The recent attacks around Peshawar, Dir and Bajaur are cases in point. In fact, there has been a spike in attacks from the TTP after some relative calmness in the preceding months. So if the insurgents have made a strong comeback that it suggests that they are far from being defeated and no question arises of their mopping up. Of late even Swat Taliban head Maulana Fazullah has vowed to soon reclaim Swat, considered as a success story by the ANP and Pakistani security forces against the insurgent.
The nature of TTP and Al Qaeda insurgency in Pakistan has been such that one cannot state anything for sure about its strength and status. The foremost reason is that the insurgency is loosely organized with many centres rather theatres of operation. Moreover, due to security forces operations the communication links among the insurgent commanders have severed due to which a clear picture often does not emerge from their side. However, the trends since 2004 reveal that there have been ebbs and flows in the insurgency. The evidence of recent years also show that despite numerous claims by Pakistani civilian and military leaders of controlling the TTP-Al Qaeda insurgency the insurgents made a comeback.
Secondly, TTP and its main financier organization, Al Qaeda, are insurgent organizations, which do not believe in any political dialogue. This is evident from the fact that both the outfits do not have any political wing like the Irish Republic Army had in Northern Ireland. So how could the ANP expect the insurgent to stop the bloodbath, which is their only modus operandi?
Thirdly, TTP and Al Qaeda insurgency is no more limited as far as its bases are concerned to KPK and FATA, which is considered by ANP as Pashtoon land. So it means that the ANP leader have not clearly evaluated the nature of the insurgency. In such a scenario offering talks to insurgents would be of no consequence.