Consensus On Talks
It is being reported that both the parliamentary committee and the military leadership are on the same page with regards to holding talks with the outlawed TTP. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah addressed a press conference over the weekend and stated that the military leadership will be keeping the committee abreast of any developments or progress in the talks, and that the contours of the negotiations would then be debated in parliament.
This is encouraging news and should be the way to approach such matters that are so contentious and sensitive in nature. Therefore, cultivating consensus is the way to go. Mr. Sanaullah has further stated that the talks would be held only under the Constitution of Pakistan, adding that neither anything over and above the Constitution would be negotiated nor would any such agreement be reached.
This is the most critical aspect around which the talks should be centered. There can be no compromise on the Constitution or the sovereignty of the state. It is important to reiterate this considering some of the unfeasible demands put forth by the TTP during the negotiations.
The TTP has demanded: a reversal of the merger of semi-autonomous tribal areas into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) province; withdrawal of all military presence from the tribal region; enforcement of Sharia Law in the Malakand region of K-P; release of over 100 commanders and fighters; presidential pardon for two key militant commanders; and complete freedom of movement for the TTP members in the Malakand region. These demands are unviable as they would be tantamount to ceding constitutional sovereignty in these regions to a group that is existentially and ideologically opposed to the country.
The leadership is united on the fact that no extra-constitutional concessions will be on offer as was agreed upon in a meeting held recently which comprised both civil and military leaders. Any agreement should result in the complete disbandment of the TTP, and it should be a representative deal that factors in a multitude of viewpoints, including non-traditional security concerns.