Do talks with Militants mean capitulation to them?

Capitulation to militants?
Unconditional talks with TTP is seen as detrimental to peace
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/Mar2013-weekly/nos-17-03-2013/dia.htm#5

Two All Parties Conferences, first by Awami National Party (ANP) and second by Jamiat Ulemae Islam (F) have urged talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but is there any rationale for these talks?

Prolonged conversations with political workers and persons from different strata have revealed most are against the talks. But they wish to be anonymous while opposing them in public to avoid the militants’ wrath.

“It will help bring Peace, it is said. But have the earlier agreements with militants — Shakai (2004), Sararogha (2005), Miramshah (2006), Khyber (2008) and Swat (2008) brought about peace?” Asks a political activist.

“These agreements were explicitly pro-militants — the state halted operation withdrew troops from demanded areas, announced amnesty for, and released militants, paid them compensation etc. But all this didn’t pacify them; they didn’t stop their war against the state; instead, they got emboldened and more lethal and extended their campaign and sway to other areas,” he adds.

Some apologists, he says, accuse the state and its security forces of not honouring the earlier deals. They always support the narration of militants (anti-state elements) and blame the security forces (state institutions) for spread of terrorism and violation of these accords. “But didn’t militants agree to certain conditions but then violated them; they didn’t take advantage of opportunities given by the state; they used peace-talks as an interval for gaining more areas and strength; they continued to support foreign fighters on Pakistani territory; they killed over 35,000 innocent civilians and 5,000 soldiers and desecrated even their bodies; they least cared for Pakistan’ international compulsions.Talks with them won’t be accepted to the families of martyrs. It will mean surrender, appeasement and our capitulation to them. These can be held only if they surrender and accept the state sovereignty; there is no other option than to do to them what they are doing to us,” the activist says.

“Some analysts argue that when US could hold talks with Afghan Taliban despite their attacks and rejection of Afghan constitution, then talks with the militants should not be marred here by asking for their surrender and ceasefire. They forget the difference between the sitting here and there. Taliban there are fighting the US and its allies who have occupied Afghanistan and the TTP here is waging war against its own people, land and security forces. How could they be equated?”

According to a social activist, it is obvious no state or its people can allow or afford a parallel system or a militant force in its jurisdiction. They can’t be expected to embrace those who are hell bent on their annihilation.

“How can talks be held with them? Have they submitted to state’s writ, its constitution and accepted and repented their mistakes and injustices? Will they unconditionally surrender? Will they cease to indulge in terrorism?”

“The militants this week released another video wherein six Pakistani soldiers were beheaded. Then the TTP’s spokesman offered talks while Adnan Rashid, the master-mind of several high profile attacks who was freed from the Bannu Jail by TTP last year, sat beside him. He is a figurehead. His presence in the video makes a mockery of the talks offer and is meant to molest the establishment,” says another social activist.

“The security forces are fighting for the country and Pakistani politicians should visit the frontlines to express solidarity with them. Instead, they are adding insult to injury by urging unconditional talks with TTP,” he opines.

“Militants and some of their apologists say alliance with the US and drone attacks brought about terrorism in Pakistan. But if so, (one can say only for the sake of argument and if it is not taken as enticing them for attacks on the US) then why militants who attack Pakistani defence installations located hundreds of kilometres away from their hideouts and kill our soldiers and innocent civilians, don’t go and attack the US bases in Afghanistan located a few miles away from there?” he asks.

“So assertive are the militants that when the JUI APC avoids using the term terrorism and militancy, it is welcomed by the TTP as a ‘positive’ development. And when the ANP APC declares talks are the first priority (but not the only solution as declared often by others) and talks about other options, its APC is rejected and it is targeted,” opines another political worker.

“Taliban have threatened to target ANP, MQM and PPP during election campaign and asked people to avoid their meetings and warned other parties to consider their policies. By welcoming some parties as guarantors and declaring others as targets may end up giving open field to the former and restricting it for the latter.”

“In private discussions, most politicians reject talks but they are pro-talks in public so as to avoid being killed. During the APCs and elsewhere, they avoid condemning the Taliban. They urge talks but intentionally avoid discussing the other options (of state operation and retaliation) in case talks fail. They want peace and power but, it seems, political expediency is being preferred over demands of national security and sovereignty? Most are following a policy of appeasement. But never forget the first step in retreat is never the last one,” says a teacher.

Militants assert that they fight for Islam. What is terrorism to others is Jihad for them. They say the government should frame independent foreign policy, separate itself from Afghan war, cede operations in Pakistan, prepare Islamic constitution and repeal laws repugnant to Islam. So is urged by their mentors. “Who should decide on these things? Who should have authority to decide what is right and bad for the country, TTP or popularly elected parliament and rulers? Should anyone wage war on his state if one doesn’t agree with any of state policies? Should people have exclusive authority to elect their rulers or states can be taken over by force? Bullet or ballot, which should determine things? Should one believe in supremacy of constitution to be enforced and explained by the state judiciary or in abdication of state to the Taliban, that they decide and impose whatever they want to?” asks a technocrat.

“Nothing can be achieved with piecemeal half hearted endeavours devoid of any comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy clearly spelling out other post-talks-failure options,” he says.

“Militants don’t have the capacity to fight a sustained war against the state. The security forces have flushed militants out from most of their strongholds. They can no more hold on to an area for long. They only can indulge in hit and run campaign. But their guerrilla warfare can never bring about the change they cherish. It can only inflict material and human losses on the nation to satisfy only their sense of vengeance?” he adds.


……………….

ORIGINAL TEXT of THE ARTICLE.

The other view: Is Dialogue a capitulation to militants?

Tahir Ali

Two All Parties Conferences, first by Awami National Party (ANP) and second by Jamiat Ulemae Islam (F) have urged talks with the Tehreeki Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but is there any rationale for these talks?

Prolonged conversations with political workers and persons from different strata have revealed most are against the talks. But they wish to be anonymous while publicly opposing so as not to annoy the militants.

“It will help bring Peace, it is said. But have the earlier agreements with militants –Shakai (2004), Sararogha (2005), Miramshah (2006), Khyber (2008) and Swat (2008) brought about peace?,” asks a political activist.

“These agreements were explicitly pro-militants -the state halted operation, withdrew troops from demanded areas, announced amnesty for, and released, militants, paid them compensation etc. But all this didn’t pacify them; they didn’t stop their war against the state; instead, they got emboldened and more lethal and extended their campaign and sway to other areas,” he adds.

Some apologists, he says, accuse the state and its security forces of not honouring the earlier deals. They always support the narration of militants (anti-state elements) and blame the security forces (state institutions) for spread in terrorism and violation of these accords. “But didn’t militants agree to certain conditions but then violated them; they didn’t take advantage of opportunities given by the state; they used peace-talks as an interval for gaining more areas and strength; they continued to support foreign fighters on Pakistani territory; they killed over 35000 innocent civilians and 5000 of soldiers and desecrated even their bodies; they least cared for Pakistan’ international compulsions. Talks with them won’t be accepted by the heirs of martyrs. It will mean surrender, appeasement and our capitulation to them. These can be held only if they surrender and accept the state sovereignty; there is no other option than to do to them what they are doing to us,” the activist says.

“Some analysts argue that when US could hold talks with Afghan Taliban despite their attacks and rejection of Afghan constitution, then talks with the militants should not be marred here by asking for their surrender and ceasefire. They forget the difference between the sitting here and there. Taliban there are fighting with the US and its allies who have occupied Afghanistan and the TTP here is waging war against its own people, land and security forces. How could they be equated,” he argues.

According to a social activist, it is obvious no state or its people can allow or afford a parallel system or a militant force in its jurisdiction. They can’t be expected to embrace those who are hell bent on their annihilation.

“How can talks be held with them? Have they submitted to state’s writ, its constitution and accepted and repented their mistakes and injustices? Will they unconditionally surrender? Will they cease to indulge in terrorism?”

“The militants this week released another video wherein six Pakistani soldiers were beheaded. Then the TTP’s spokesman offered talks while Adnan Rashid, the master-mind of several high profile attacks who was freed from the Bannu Jail by TTP last year, sat beside him. He is a figurehead. His presence in the video makes a mockery of the talks offer and is meant to molest the establishment,” says another social activist.

“The security forces are fighting for the country and Pakistani politicians should visit the frontlines to express solidarity with them. Instead, they are adding insult to injury by urging unconditional talks with TTP,” he opines.

“Militants and some of their apologists say alliance with the US and drone attacks brought about terrorism in Pakistan. But if so, (one can say only for the sake of argument and if it is not taken as enticing them for attacks on the US) then why militants who can attack against Pakistani defence installations located hundreds of kilometres away from their hideouts and kill our soldiers and innocent civilians don’t go and attack the US bases in Afghanistan located a few miles away from there?,” he adds.

“So assertive are the militants that when the JUI APC avoids using the term terrorism and militancy, it is welcomed by the TTP as a ‘positive’ development. And when the ANP APC declares talks are the first priority (but not the only solution as declared often by others) and talks about other options, its APC is rejected and it is targeted,” opines another political worker.

According to him, Taliban have threatened to target ANP, MQM and PPP during election campaign and asked people to avoid their meetings and warned other parties to consider their policies. By welcoming some parties as guarantors and declaring others as targets may end up giving open field to the former and restricting it for the latter, he argues.

“In private discussions, most politicians reject talks but they are pro-talks in public so as to avoid being killed. During the APCs and elsewhere, they avoid condemning the Taliban. They urge talks but intentionally avoid discussing the other options (of state operation and retaliation) in case talks fail. They want peace and power but, it seems, political expediency is being preferred over demands of national security and sovereignty? Most are following a policy of appeasement. But never forget the first step in retreat is never the last one,” says a teacher.

“Militants assert that they fight for Islam. What is terrorism to others is Jihad for them. They say the government should frame independent foreign policy, separate itself from Afghan war, cede operations in Pakistan, prepare Islamic constitution and repeal laws repugnant to Islam. So is urged by their mentors. Who should decide on these things? Who should have authority to decide what is right and bad for the country, TTP or popularly elected parliament and rulers? Should anyone wage war on his state if one doesn’t agree with any of state policies? Should people have exclusive authority to elect their rulers or states can be taken over by force? Bullet or ballot, which should determine things? Should one believe in supremacy of constitution to be enforced and explained by the state judiciary or in abdication of state to the Taliban, that they decide and impose whatever they want to?,” asks a technocrat.

“Nothing can be achieved with piecemeal half hearted endeavours devoid of any comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy clearly spelling out other post-talks-failure options,” he says.

“Militants don’t have the capacity to fight a sustained war against the state. The security forces have flushed militants out from most of their strongholds. They can no more hold on to an area for long. They only can indulge in hit and run campaign. But their guerrilla warfare can never bring about the change they cherish. It can only inflict material and human losses on the nation to satisfy only their sense of vengeance?” he adds.

(These are the views of the persons. Writer’s total agreement with these is not necessary)

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About Tahir Ali Khan
I am an academic, freelance columnist, writer and a social worker.

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