Remember: There was one brief, fleeting period of coherence before the elections when the public just about reached a consensus on who the Taliban were. They were the really bad guys who might need a military operation to root them out. Then along came Nawaz tooting the talks mantra and like a bunch of pigeons scattering after stale bread, the entire public narrative was thrown once more into confusion. What all this talk of the talks has done, conceptually speaking, is divide the public discourse. Time and again, the state has gone into the negotiating process from a blatant position of weakness, sitting clueless before an enemy that has outsmarted them everywhere it matters.

It is too late to ask, Now what? It is too late to wonder when the tipping point will come. Behold. The tipping point is here. 23 soldiers killed should be a tipping point for any state to develop a decisive narrative. On what grounds is the Government of Pakistan wiling still, to be manipulated and bullied by an enemy so utterly proficient in psychological warfare. They’ve really got it all figured out.  They’ve calculated their losses, their wins, and our meek hesitations, and they’ve got us all lined up neatly against the wall. In the incoherence, the divisions and chaos of their party, lies the clarity of the TTP strategy. They know they will not give the violence up. They just don’t know how to tell us nicely. They’re wiling to talk, sure. But the two things just aren’t mutually exclusive in the way the world looks through Talib-goggles.

When the Americans finally decided to talk to the Taliban in Afghanistan, it was after pushing them into a corner and exhausting them defensively. That is the only circumstance on Earth in which the talks option is viable. From the get go, the TTP had the upper hand and every step of the way the state bowed to their demands. Even now, as official TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid stands staunchly by the Mohmand Taliban statements regarding the FC killings being carried out in the name of revenge, nobody in Government has stated decisively that all talks of talks are off the table. Hours ago, a military convoy in Peshawar was attacked killing a Pakistan Army Major. These incidents are not random rogue occurrences. The state must believe they are planned, that the TTP is officially in on it, and accept that it is dealing with an enemy it has no clue how to tackle diplomatically. If the Taliban were to declare a ceasefire today, would it be enough? From where we’re sitting (sans Talib-goggles, hopefully) its looking far too late for any more last chances.