While rumours swirl of a possible ceasefire to be announced by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), it is difficult to gauge whether this is a success of the peace talks initiated by the government, or a clever ruse by the banned outfit to continue to attack while claiming impunity. On the peace talks front, neither involved committee members, nor army high command have been particularly hopeful. Despite statements promising good news, it cannot be ignored that even in the absence of drone attacks, and with negotiations supposedly underway, attacks by the TTP have not just continued, but increased in frequency and brazenness.

What possible reason there is to optimistically expect a ceasefire to be genuine — no one can quite say. The history of such promises belies the truth that they are seldom kept. At best, this is an opportunity to regroup or to create a smokescreen behind which to hide, all the whole fanning conspiracy theories of a ‘third hand’ orchestrating attacks. For experts, the decision is and always has been a clear one: the TTP are not to be trusted, nor can they be negotiated with. The only possible strategy to ensure the success of the state is to root out the evil by force. Adopting such an organization into the state structure is to change the nature of that very structure itself — a goal which is a measure of success for the TTP, not by the government. For the safeguarding of the constitution and all that Pakistan claims to stand for, the TTP must be shown no leniency, even if claims of a ceasefire surface. It is an unkind but realistic prediction that the ceasefire will be in name only, and attacks will continue unabated, unclaimed and unavenged.

Meanwhile, perhaps in an effort to prepare ground for the inevitable, a gathering of religious leaders has insisted that no military solution should be considered, even if the peace talks fail. What option would they then suggest? One-sided acceptance of all TTP conditions? It appears nothing less would satisfy Maulana Sami-Ul-Haq and Co.

With the government trying to display flexibility in accommodating TTP whims in the peace process, as an effort to prove that they are sincerely exhausting the talks option before considering a military option, it is equally important to consider that the TTP may be outplaying them on their own pitch. The TTP’s announcement of a ceasefire is likely to pull the rug of military force from under the government’s feet. One only wishes the government had not allowed them center stage to act out the farce.