There is a general agreement over the fact that no fruitful results can be achieved through the ongoing peace talks between the government and the TTP, without the support and compliance from the armed forces. During the 169th Corps Commander Conference chaired by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, the military leadership has accepted the government’s and TTP’s common demand of a ceasefire.
There are some who would have us believe that this is an unprecedented development, and of course many of us will believe it owing to the fact that we have the collective national memory of a goldfish. We’ve been here before, and not so long ago. There is nothing original or revolutionary about the steps being taken. Think: Swat. Simply put, we’re doing the exact same thing we tried in Swat, and expecting a different result.
This entire ‘give peace a chance’ exercise is based on a false assumption. An extremely complex phenomenon has been oversimplified in order to make room for absurd solutions. There are no less than thirty five militant groups affiliated with the TTP. The extent of the autonomy these groups enjoy with regards to their routine operations varies. It is the ultimate chameleon organisation: When it is in their interests, they appear as one massive entity, but when it deems fit, the TTP distances itself from these groups. Like right now. As we speak, Peshawar is under attack. A suicide attack killed four women on Monday, and now, three more blasts in Shama cinema resulting in the deaths of at least sixteen people so far.
Another interesting point which demands attention is that the option of “retaliatory action” has been kept open by the Army. That is, if attacked, the forces will hit back. The problem with this is that the military will only respond if it comes under direct attack. It may sound like a fair deal for the Army and the TTP, but surely, the wider public will be at the receiving end of the bargain. Will we continue to stress ceasefire while the terrorists kill common citizens? Will the TTP admit to being behind these attacks? If so, will the ceasefire remain intact? And if not, we can be certain that the TTP might be the face of the insurgency, but it is in no position to give assurances on behalf of other active militant groups. Do we then go to each group individually and beg for peace? Obviously, that is just not doable. The government would do well to reconsider its flawed approach. We simply cannot afford to waste anymore time.