The government has once again resumed peace talks, more commonly known as ‘surrender talks’ on social media, with the Taliban after the attack carried out by militants in the heart of Islamabad. It appears the district court judge who threw out a case filed by Abdul Rasheed Ghazi’s son was targeted in the attack that took twelve lives at least. The connection of this attack with Laal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz and his nephew is all too apparent. This attack that killed the judge who threw out their murder case against Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf for ordering the Lal Masjid operation crystallizes the very reason these terrorists successfully got acquitted in over twenty cases of terrorism against them. Yet there is no action or news of apprehending or investigating these gentlemen. Instead, the federal interior minister has asked the TTP to condemn the attack and identify the group that perpetrated the attack. Even if TTP, with which the Lal Masjid clerics are closely aligned, does ‘condemn’ the attack while at the same time keep executing attacks in names of groups it publicly disowns, would that bring peace? Does the minister think this is a game? Does he, and indeed the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, have any inkling of their responsibilities to the citizens of this country?

Indeed, asking TTP to tell them who carried out the Islamabad attack appears to be a facile attempt at divide and rule, supposedly their strategy for dealing with militancy. They more than anyone else know that various militant groups in fact came together after the Lal Masjid operation under the TTP umbrella; that for years this very strategy of making ‘peace deals’ by the military over the years has failed miserably. If previously various groups had different aims, they now have a very clear, unified agenda. They have coalesced more than ever before. The only side which is being divided and ruled at this point is the state and people of Pakistan.

If there were indeed any ‘reconcilables’ (which is hard to believe without any evidence), they would have at least once tried a political struggle, put forward political demands. Yet, the ‘demands’, whether from the TTP or any splinter groups actually translate to the state compromising its sovereignty: they ask for terrorists to be released, they ask for the army to withdraw from areas, they ask for the constitution and law of the land to subverted and or replaced. Every peace deal of the past has benefitted the terrorists, allowing them to regroup and re-strengthen in more ways than one. Over time, these ‘peace agreements’ have allowed the TTP to not only spread its physical tentacles into all the major cities of Pakistan, but to also construct the narrative based on which this death-wish is being executed by the government.

Political parties that front the TTP and its narrative first completely misled people about drones and deaths of innocents being responsible for terrorism in Pakistan – a patent lie. Islamist insurgency in Pakistan predates the drones by about a decade. The TTP and Al Qaeda successfully mainstreamed the narrative of drones killing innocents through political parties such as the PTI and Jamat-e-Islami, with the latest party to join that being the current ruling party, PML-N – as if the TTP cared about innocent lives! But the most damaging false narrative was of ten years of operations against terrorism having failed. Brig (retd) Asad Munir has written in detail of the success of operations. However, the real issue is that no sustained offensive against extremism, militancy and terrorism has in actuality ever been carried out. ‘Peace deals’ and active collusion with ‘good terrorists’ throughout these years have meant that the state of Pakistan has never really tried to rout this problem with any sincerity.

Thus, the bone-headed pursuit of ‘peace talks’ is nothing but a repeat of utterly failed policies of the past. The absurdity of calling military offensives a failure, and trying to sell the actual failed strategies in a new packaging, is beyond criminal. If single minded, comprehensive and sustained efforts at crushing extremism and terrorism are not made now, it may spell the end not only of the ruling government, but of the country as we know it as well.

 The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.­

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