Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz’s statements regarding the Taliban in a BBC Urdu interview has created quite a stir amongst political commentators, local and international. Claiming that not all Taliban are a threat to the state and that Pakistan is fighting the United States’ war, he gave the impression the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Afghani Taliban are two separate entities, and the foreign policy towards both of them needs to be nuanced – or to put it bluntly, different. While the Foreign Office was quick to mop up the mess Sartaj Aziz left behind, the damage had been done. More importantly, it betrayed a decadent mindset in the administration, one that everyone hoped had significantly eroded.

Pakistan in the past, has been criticized roundly for strategically maintaining a distinction between the ‘good militants’ and ‘bad militants’, the later being targeted and the former used as a foreign policy tool. There is a lot of bad blood and suspicion between Pakistan and both Afghanistan and the US, over this distinction. The state, having allowed militancy to foster under this policy, later felt a serious challenge from these forces that were getting out of control. The advent of Operation Zarb-e-Azab, and now Khyber One, hinted at the state having finally recognised its mistake and moving to rectify it. Ironically, it is when the operations are at their zenith, and the two estranged states are finally inching their way back into stronger diplomatic ties with Pakistan, that Mr Aziz decides to make these comments. Ashraf Ghani’s momentous initiative and the ongoing Pakistan-US military dialogue will be seriously undermined if such tendencies are displayed by the top administration.

Even if we buy the argument that the comments were taken out of context, which is hard sell in the first place, it still represents the presence of such rationale in the minds of the government, and is at least a highly un-diplomatic move by the elite diplomat. It is high time we shed the flawed logic that has brought this country so much hardship. The different brands of militants may have different origins but they all share one core aspect: using violence and fear to impose their own warped version of extremist religion and propagating intolerance. This fact alone condemns them. Propagating this policy is akin to shooting oneself in the foot, repeatedly.