ISLAMABAD- It may have taken a few rounds of surgical assaults on part of the state security apparatus to get Taliban feel the heat, but it is probably too late for the terrorist outfit to mend faces and make up with the state after more than enough of the innocent blood has been spilled.
A subtle air of mistrust and disorientation characterises Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) freshly discovered penchant for peace (only for thirty days). Pakistan’s strategic gurus, be they security officials, defence experts or the civilian government functionaries, all look aptly justified to see through this entire affair from the spectacles of scepticism.
As the orthodox lot of ‘Taliban lovers’ jumps into motion to shower endless praises on the TTP’s newly revived love for dialogue, the public, security establishment, politicians, civil society, journalists and the different cross-sections of Pakistani society in general are not ready to buy this, especially at a time when surgical missions in the north-western tribal areas have had more than 140 terrorists including some top TTP commanders eliminated from the face of the earth.
“They talk sense only when they are made to face the music,” said Lieutenant General (Retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch in an obvious reference to the TTP’s ceasefire announcement for 30 days. “This clearly indicates we have taught them a real good lesson.”
Baloch, an incumbent federal minister, did not seem much moved. “They talked like that in the past and they were the ones to have breached the peace agreements and resorted to violence. We really have to look if this is yet another eyewash only to buy time for regrouping or they really mean business,” the former general referred to the peace dialogues initiated in the past all of which died an ultimately obvious death.
“Even just recently, the Taliban were the ones who offered peace talks and they were the ones who spilled our innocent blood. Our brave security men and civilians were so ruthlessly targeted in dozens of attacks. So, if this is just another time-buying tactic only to regroup to unleash more havoc, we are not going to buy it and the TTP will have to pay for it the hard way.”
The TTP’s offer, the minister said, would be taken up for discussion by the prime minister and the cabinet members. “We will see if the TTP is serious enough to mend its ways or they’re just playing games. Our future policy line would be determined after we exchange notes,” he told this correspondent.
Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi did not think differently. “Taliban cannot be trusted,” he said while describing this fresh offer from the notorious terrorist outfit as a gimmick for saving its skin. “More than 14 peace agreements were struck in the past and see what was the result. We cannot and must not act in such a naïve and gullible way so as to trust these terrorists again and again.”
Wishing to stay unnamed for obvious reasons, a security Czar, in a meeting with this correspondent in the recent past, did not mince words to term the TTP and its allied militant groups as “mercenaries who have lust for blood.”
The official, a highly placed one, could see it coming what the TTP had to offer on Saturday. “Their chain of command is broken. Now they’ll talk about peace. They’ll talk about the country and Islam and there would be certain elements that would stand up to support this demand. Such kind of melodramas creates discontent within the rank and file of the military.”
The security official believed it is not about weeks or months, but a matter of a few days to wipe out the militants from the planet. “It’s all about will. The political will. The security forces are ready to make the terrorists pay through the nose, the way we have had, recently. It’s the politicians who always back off.”
Lieutenant General (Retd) Talat Masood shared his views in a similar vein. “The Pakistani nation should not be made to suffer for the misdeeds of the militants. The TTP does not call the shots anymore. The security forces have neutralised the militants in several parts. After achieving a high level of success, the option to reverse the ongoing action would have adverse consequences. The public, political parties and the security establishment are all on same page to take on terrorism. The government should honour the wishes of the people.”