One of the daunting challenges that Mian Nawaz Sharif would be confronted with, soon after taking the reins of government as Prime Minister, would be how to deal with the Pakistani Taliban and their counterparts in Afghanistan. During his election campaign, he did offer peace to the TTP who had threatened to jeopardize electoral process. In fact, the TTP had accepted the responsibility of terrorist activities in Karachi, Balochistan and Khyber PK taking a massive human toll and rendering a large number injured. However, despite their serious threats, the nation went to polls in defiance and at risk to life and limb, and the process has been completed.
It was on Wednesday that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan offered ceasefire and talks to the new government. Its spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan was quoted having stated: “If Pakistan’s new government takes our dialogue offer seriously and makes some progress, then the group could offer ceasefire.” The Taliban spokesman bitterly criticized the attitude of the PPP government accusing it of adopting a non-serious attitude to their similar earlier offers. Justifying his fresh offer of dialogue, he cited a statement of would-be-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and expressed his group’s appreciation over his approach. But surprisingly Ehsan said two contrasting things in the same breath. On the one hand, he said the TTP could not declare ceasefire because any such decision would largely depend on approach of the new government. But on the other hand he said that such an eventuality could take place if his group receives some gestures from the government-in-waiting.
But the basic question is whether Nawaz Sharif would take kindly to being "offered" a ceasefire as an elected head of government, by a terrorist entity, which does not accept the state of Pakistan, nor does it believe in the democratic process by which Mian Nawaz and his party have come to power. The Pakistan Army is engaged in armed combats with Taliban in the Fata region and had earlier rejected such offers of dialogue, rightly considering them duplicitous enemies of the state. Why should the Taliban be taken at face value now? Nothing will change unless they unconditionally lay down arms.