Talks With TTP
The ongoing talks with the TTP have elicited a wide range of varying reactions within the policy circles of the country. There are of course differing views on whether talks should be pursued in the first place, how they should be approached, and what the implications could be. While some believe that there is nothing to negotiate other than the surrender of the terrorists, others are of the view that the group is already defeated.
There are multiple factors at play here and the assumption that successful talks will result in peace and stability is also a contested one. For instance, there could very well be a scenario where disgruntled members and factions within the TTP could splinter to either form one or more new groups or join others like the IS-K. Militant groups can be likened to organisms that mutate and evolve constantly and thus it is hard to predict or anticipate any particular scenario because of the myriad possibilities.
But before we can debate the contours of a peace deal and what its implications may be, there are still key issues over which the talks remain stalled. The most significant one is the reversal of the FATA merger and reports suggest that the TTP is not willing to compromise on this particular demand. The mainstreaming of FATA is something that was years in the making and of course the state cannot allow the TTP to force this demand.
The other concerning demand of the TTP is to enforce the Sharia in Malakand and its extension to the tribal districts. The establishment of a parallel administrative structure can prove to be problematic and there are more serious legal, political and social implications that need to be taken into account given our past experiences and the suffering experienced by the residents of the region.
It remains to be seen how these talks progress and at this point in time, we have only secured a TTP pledge to continue the ceasefire and talks without any cut-off date. There are no simple answers or solutions to this conundrum and it is a fact that the state is occupied with multiple crises at the moment and has limited bandwidth to deal with terror groups on more than one front. At the same time, this is an issue that is extremely sensitive and it is absolutely understandable why certain members of the coalition government are frustrated about the parliament not being taken into confidence. Ultimately however, the conversation will have to enter the mainstream and for this to be a lasting success, a national consensus will have to be cultivated.