The TTP’s meaningless ceasefire announcement is a ploy to breathe life into the farce of talks and a testimony to the effectiveness of the military strikes against it. So should we fall into the trap again, hold our fire and give the terrorists the relief they seek? Should we start another round of open-ended unstructured talks with a mercenary force whose unwavering assigned agenda is clear as daylight: conquering Pakistan and holding its 200 million citizens hostage to its barbaric ideology and violence. The government seems itching to take the TTP bait.

The Nawaz government’s capacity to understand, let alone tackle, the challenge at hand can be gauged by the outline of the National Security Policy unveiled by its Interior Minister in the national assembly last week. It reads like a list of recommendations put together at the end of a seminar in a holiday resort. Dishing out fancy words cannot substitute for the responsibility of the government to take concrete actions, a responsibility that it has abdicated for far too long.

Instead of telling us that we need a national narrative, the government should get down to articulating it. The narrative is written on the wall in bold letters, written with the blood of thousands of innocent citizens and thousands of security personnel who laid down their lives in the line of duty to defend us from these monsters. The only thing that the government needs to do is to read it. But it is blindfolded by its eagerness to appease the militants and their associates, the maulanas in our midst.

It is written that each soul is accountable to God for his or her deeds and beliefs. In matters of faith, God alone would judge us. No other entities or individuals, be it the government or some gun-toting herd of self-proclaimed guardians of ‘Islam,’ have the right to impose on us through force, their ideas about piety and what God wants, or to punish or reward us according to their interpretations. Those seeking to do so, spreading fitna and fasad in the name of religion, killing people for their beliefs and spreading hatred amongst God’s children, are the enemies of Islam.

It is the government’s job to protect us from these murderous self-appointed soldiers of Islam but it would rather take us for a ride on a merry-go-round of fancy words, ceding space and empowering them through its abject dithering. It whispers sweet nothings about tolerance and streamlining seminaries, but it would not implement existing laws to act against those spreading hatred in the name of religion and creating an enabling social environment for the terrorists.

The government would not act to stop the funding of professional clerics or religious groups and institutions flowing in from sectarian theocracies in Saudi Arabia and Iran. It would not act against the associates of terrorists, the maulanas in our midst, who use religion for worldly gains; dividing Muslims, demonizing minorities and introducing confusions and complications in the clear message of God. It would not act to check the abuse of the pulpit and loudspeakers in mosques or punish those putting up inflammatory posters and disseminating hate literature. It would not hang those convicted for acts of terror but sing us lullabies about steps it would take one day to rein in the monster of terrorism.

Like an ostrich with its head buried deep in the sand, the government would rather not see the terrorists as imperial tools, designed to huff and puff till they blow our house down. Is it blind to how one country after another is being thrown in chaos by such non-state actors to facilitate the march of the empire? Does it not see the US, its allies and proxies at work in Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and Congo? Has it forgotten how brothers of TTP were unleashed on Libya?

Thankfully, Pakistan is a hard country to crack. So, along with the sectarian terrorists, a whole range of tools is being employed here; ethnic fascists being cultivated in imperial capitals and the IMF, aid agencies and NGOs, trade incentives and threats of sanctions, manipulating perceptions about Pakistan through the media and targeting institutions that pose a hurdle in the empire’s path. All the carrots and all the sticks are meant to lead us to destruction and total subjugation.

The TTP is the empire’s deadliest weapon and the ceasefire announcement is only a tactical retreat to save it from certain ruin in the face of a resolute military action. There is actually no room for discussion with these terrorists, with or without any deceptive ceasefire announcements. Has the TTP announced its allegiance to the constitution of Pakistan? Has it announced to lay down its arms and give up its favorite pastime of spreading sectarian hatred and violence, acts that violate the constitution? Given its past record, can we believe anything it says?

Surely, the farce of talks with the TTP cannot get us anywhere. Like before, it is a smokescreen the terrorists use to catch their breath and build their strength, planning their next moves to weaken the state of Pakistan and terrorize its citizens into submission. They will wait out and let their associates create more space for them in our social landscape, let other imperial assets chip away at our strength and resolve, facilitating their next attack. They will continue their acts of terror and create confusion about who’s behind them. Have we not seen it all before?

The elected government is eager to fall into the TTP trap. After the TTP ceasefire announcement, the Interior Minister wasted no time in calling up its chief negotiator Maulana Samiul Haq who was in Saudi Arabia, of all places. Already, there is talk of a pause in the ongoing military strikes and resuming the absurd dialogue with a deceptive devil. Why is the government so keen to accept the devious TTP and its associates as paragons of credibility? Is it just the dollars or does the reason for its soft spot for the TTP go deeper?

The Nawaz government has shown its utter lack of capacity to tackle the threat of terrorism and matters of national security. It seems to be on a holiday and inclined to send the military on a forced furlough in this time of war. Its refusal to read the national narrative written on the wall with the blood of Pakistanis, and articulate it with conviction and strength, is making more and more people open to the idea of another military takeover.

The writer is a freelance columnist.