The who’s who of peace talks

As the harshness of winter gives way to new leaves to burst forth, the country too is witnessing an effort to talk about peace. From not moving at all, to moving in another direction and then the swing of the pendulum yet again is all happening before we even mentally register what the current national take is. Breakneck speed is the phrase that comes to mind. On top of it all, the attacks on our security personnel and citizens continue anyway – done by splinter groups of TTP, one presumes, who are not in full agreement for the talks or the ceasefire! As everyone has a stake in the situation, let’s take a closer look at who s who of the talks as they happen.
Upfront: The four nominated by the government to be their representatives. Irfan Siddiqui- the journalist and now special assistant to the Prime Minister, Rahimullah Yusafzai - another journalist, Major Amir- formerly of the ISI and Rustam Shah Mohmand - former diplomat, all chosen because of their sympathetic leanings.
Achilles Heel: This group does not include representation from the victims of terrorism or women or from Sindh and Balochistan and what’s more, have been given the brush over by the TTP who have further consolidated their interests by asking for more of their own kind to go between this upfront selection and them, making the upfront somewhat redundant!
Preferred TTP Choice: Maulana Sami ul Haq, Professor Ibrahim Khan and Maulana Abdul Aziz. Easily understandable. Maulana Sami has the impeccable connections of having taught many Talibs as well as their commanders, Professor Ibrahim, though very personally likeable represents JI whose Amir states unabashedly that the only thing different in their approach and the Taliban’s is the means selected to reach the preferred goal. Maulana Abdul Aziz, from Lal Masjid, is unforgettable and particularly for all of us who live in Islamabad.
Achilles Heel: Maulana Sami’s connections with Madam Tahira, formerly of running a brothel fame who once stated that the Maulana liked being in the centre of, how shall I put it delicately - things, which also earned him the nickname of Maulana sandwich. Professor Ibrahim’s affiliation with a party whose leader did not retract from considering Hakimullah Mehsud a shaheed and the interview of Maulana Abdul Aziz in a burqa, the attire in which he tried to escape from Lal Masjid, is still a very clear memory.
Dropouts from TTP- Preferred: Mufti Kifayatullah of JUI F and Imran Khan Chairman of PTI. Both parties have long been supporters of talks but have opted not to take the bait of representing the TTP, done obviously for causing them political harm.
Achilles Heel: The political astuteness of one and the political naiveté of the other. The very late realization by the well loved Kaptan that those who have voted for his party matter (so an ambit- revisit is in order to the alternative of political perishing).
The T’s with Observer Status: Maulana Tahir ul Qadri whose logic and scholarship makes it difficult to disagree with him when he points out the basic flaws which have to be righted to fix the system. Maulana Tahir ul Ashrafi, the enlightened head of Islamic Council and Tahira Abdullah, the undeclared head of all activists of civil rights in Pakistan, along with Naeem Sadiq.
Achilles Heel: The undying suspicions that Tahir ul Qadri is Plan B, Tahir ul Ashrafi is a closet liberal and Tahira is way too aggressive.
Missing in Action: General Raheel Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar, Chief of Army Staff and Federal Minister of Interior respectively, both of them having been tasked with the security of Pakistan and its people by the state. They watch in silence as the story develops.
Achilles Heel: General Raheel still new to his assignment and Chaudhry Nisar on a perpetually individualistic tangent.
Keen Observers: The ISI and the Americans. Both have played a decisive role in grooming and nurturing the very organization that has developed into a monster with the capacity to bite everybody in the backside ever so frequently.
Achilles Heel: The hawks in both who are not interested in the peace mumbo-jumbo.
Major Detractors: Zahid Hussain, Ayaz Amir, Harris Khalique and Salman Raja. All four of them write, speak and argue well. They are so clear in their arguments that the talks are a complete futility of effort.
Achilles Heel: Their logic is not understood by many as they express themselves best when they write and converse in the English language.
Major Supporters: Ouria Maqbool Jan and Ansar Abbasi. They will blame all our ills on anything but the TTP and can simplify the most complex of problems by reverting to primitive from modern, with a particular reference to women.
Achilles Heel: The constant exposure to them due to TV talk shows has enabled people to cut through the glibness of their exterior and judge their opinions in the light of ground realities as they afflict us.
The Confused and the Confusing: Pakistan’s vibrant media which breaks news even oftener than the speed of light and where so many of the interviewers or anchors do not follow the world wide rule of being objective and non-partisan. There is way too much personal luuch-talling by them in any show that’s being conducted, with no policy on the outcome or the impact they are supposed to create to clear up the confusion in the public mind.
Achilles Heel: The entire nation is addicted to its fix of daily talk shows where these confusing anchor persons reign supreme. There is no let-up in sight of people tiring of them in the foreseeable future.
Additional Twist to the National Picture: Paintees Puncture. A tape which has surfaced and which has Najam Sethi the caretaker chief minister of Punjab who also oversaw elections claiming that he fixed the election flat tyres with paintees punctures!
Achilles Heel: The eight month old government is barely getting its act together after the five year term of the previous government wore out and the general elections took place. The disclosure has the capacity to derail everything with unpredictable consequences.
The watching and the waiting: The poor suckers, the one hundred and ninety million who are attacked, killed, robbed and left pretty much to fend for themselves for energy, law, security, health and education, after they have done the needful and voted in the general elections.
Achilles Heel: The majority of them loves the country and cannot give up on either it or hope because they seriously believe that ‘na umeedi kufr hai”.

 The writer is a public relations and  event management professional  based in Islamabad.

Tweets at:@tallatazim