LAHORE - As a formal contact between government peace committee and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may take place soon, a senior member of the government team doesn’t expect the TTP will demand any change in the governance system, as it can torpedo the entire dialogue process.
The Taliban had been saying their prime objective was enforcement of Sharia, but almost all the religio-political parties of the country believe the 1973 Constitution is based on the Islamic system and it disallows the Parliament to enact any law repugnant to the Quran and the Sunnah.
The government committee member also anticipated acts of sabotage by anti-talks elements within the TTP conglomerate. He said that elements who wish to change the existing system of governance and desire control of their militias at least over the tribal region will try their best to frustrate the peace efforts.
Sharing his views about the likely demands of the TTP, the committee member said: “I have learnt from some TTP members that they will focus on release of their associates from prisons, compensation of the war affectees in the tribal region, amnesty for the TTP leadership, disposal of foreign fighters, withdrawal of armed forces and end of drone attacks.”
Informing about the government’s conditions for talks, he said they would demand immediate halt to acts of violence by the Taliban, control of any TTP-member militia would not be accepted in any area at any stage, and subject of possible amnesty for indigenous and foreign militants would be dealt with separately. He added that more conditions could be included after the first round of formal talks with the TTP.
Expressing his fear about the possible action by the saboteurs, he said, “Threat from anti-dialogue forces among the TTP is imminent and we should be ready for it and our security services should make efforts to counter such threats in advance after receiving actionable intelligence.”
Asked if the current TTP hierarchy enjoys complete authority for peace talks, he said, “Though we are going to talk with the TTP leadership elected by its major groups after the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, there are certain smaller groups that will carry out bids to derail the process by employing violence.”
The committee member said, “The anti-peace groups among the TTP will be dealt by the local tribesmen once we succeed reaching a peace formula with the representative of TTP leadership,” adding, “It will be quite easy to eliminate the few anti-dialogue forces once a peace deal is reached between the TTP leadership and the government.”
About participation of TTP chief Maulvi Fazalullah in the talks at any stage, he, without commenting over the present location of Fazalullah, said that the TTP chief would be included in the talks through ‘safe communication’.
About the composition of the peace committee, he was of the opinion that it would be better if members belonging to all tribal regions are included because they would be enjoying natural closeness with the TTP members. Similarly, it would be more workable for the TTP if they nominate their associates belonging to the tribal region and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he added.
About the disposal of foreign fighters, he said there can be three ways for their disposal under the tribal traditions: First, they are cast away by the tribesmen on their own from their region; second, a local Malik (tribal elder) gives surety of their conduct and they present themselves every 15 days before the assistant political agent concerned for recording statement about their activity; third, they are made to face local laws for their past actions.
The committee member informed that there were approximately 500 foreign fighters who were residing in North Waziristan and most of them were of Uzbek and Chechen origin. He added that some foreigner fighters had long laid down their weapons and married to local women and were living normal life.
Acknowledging criminal actions on part of some TTP elements, he said, “It is true that some of them are involved in extortion, kidnapping for ransom and other crimes but all such elements will cease to exist after the success of peace talks.”
He said the people of the tribal areas want peace and the prime minister is also very eager to restore peace through peaceful means. There are 1.6 million tribal people, mainly of Mehsud tribe, who have migrated either to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or other parts of the country due to insurgency in the tribal region, he added.