The discovery of 14 bullet-riddled bodies in Bara, including that of the brother of Peshawar’s ex-Nazim, shows, among other things, the bankruptcy of the policy that the government is pursuing in the USA’s war on terror, especially when it is also kept in mind that 29 militants and troops had been killed in FATA. One view holds that those killed were militants killed by the agencies; another is that they were people killed by the militants to avenge the deaths of militants in FATA. It should be clear that whichever explanation is correct, the war on terror is to blame. Or rather the perception of Pakistan's pursuit of the American agenda. The disturbance in the entire area involves forces in confrontation with the militants, with the result that heavy casualties are suffered on both sides. The militants believe themselves to be involved in conflict with the USA, and if they are fighting the armed forces it is because they are acting as the first line of defence for the USA. It cannot be stressed that whatever the cause, the killings in Bara, which took place, it seems from the state of the bodies, about two or three days ago, cannot be condemned too much. If the perpetrators are indeed linked to the government, they must be brought to account and given condign punishment. It goes without saying that there can be absolutely no tolerance of those that challenge the writ of the state. However, it cannot be stressed too much that the state has no business fighting wars that only other states benefit from.

However, it should also be examined why, if the USA is free to talk to the Taliban, and has even set up an office in Qatar for this purpose, why it prevents Pakistan from doing the same. This violence can only breed more violence, in the present grisly fashion. The USA may find that these deaths are part of the cost of doing business, but whatever the case, those dying are Pakistani citizens, and so Pakistan cannot maintain such equanimity.

The Pakistani state must not leave the talking to the USA, but must take account of the fact that whoever wins, the losers are Pakistanis too, and therefore it must engage the militants in talks. The whole country has suffered the consequences of not doing so, in the shape of suicide bombings rocking the whole country. To prevent this happening again, the government must engage in talks with the militants, regardless of whether the USA approves or not. If it can talk, so can we.