WHILE the talks between Maulana Sufi Mohammad and Swat TTP leaders continue, 30 people were killed in a suicide attack in Dera Ismail Khan. On Wednesday, a prominent JUP-Noorani leader was gunned down in Quetta. Combined with the earlier killing of press reporter Musa Khankhel, the incidents indicate that there are elements within the country who want fratricidal killings to continue. They would like to sabotage whatever attempts are being made for peace through negotiations. Whoever these forces are and whatever their motives, they are playing in the hands of Pakistan's enemies. There is a need on the part of the government to locate and punish them As if the internal opponents of peace were not enough, President Obama's Special envoy Richard Holbrooke has telephoned President Asif Zardari to express "concern" and seek assurances that the deal "does not turn into a surrender." Earlier, he had pointed a finger at the Army and the ISI for undermining what he called President Zardari's commitment to eradicate terrorist sanctuaries. Maulana Sufi Mohammad, who is trying to barter peace for Qazi courts, has committed that he would persuade the Swat militants to lay down arms. Despite his controversial views regarding democracy and Islam, he has clarified that he stands for the government's writ in the area once the Qazi courts have been established. It has already been decided to maintain the Army's presence in Swat until peace is fully restored. Once Maulana Sufi Mohammad succeeds in persuading the local TTP to lay down arms, and the government re-establishes its writ in the area through police and paramilitary forces, there would be little possibility of the area being used for harbouring, training or exporting militants to Afghanistan. There should therefore be no reason under the circumstances for the US to interfere in an arrangement the government is making to secure peace. Meanwhile there is a need on the part of the government to act transparently, which it has failed to do so far. The public needs to be informed regarding the precise terms being offered to the local TTP through the Maulana. Unless this is done, doubts and suspicions will persist among all concerned, including human rights activists. Some of the policies enacted by the militants in Swat are repugnant to democracy and a moderate interpretation of Islam. Forcing people to follow a narrow, outmoded and highly controversial interpretation of Islam cannot be allowed. Similarly, banning female education, restricting the movement of women, forcing them to observe strict purdah, destroying video and music shops, or forcing people to grow beards, are highly reprehensible. No agreement that denies people the basic rights as enshrined in the Constitution can thus be acceptable. Whatever compromises the government is forced to make, have to be within the ambit of the Constitution.