A vast majority of the people in the country now believe that Pakistani Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif and his government have miscalculated the intentions of the TTP and that their penchant for negotiations is only a facade and nothing more. The recent claim of the Taliban regarding the killing of the 23 FC men who were in their custody since June 2010 has sent shock waves through the country. Before this incident, acts of terrorism were being committed on a daily basis side by side with trumpets being blown by both the Taliban nominated committee for peace and the pro-Taliban committee nominated by the government.

At the outset it was widely believed that both these committees were in fact representing the distorted point of view of the Taliban and that a majority of the people of this country had no representation on the government selected committee for peace talks. To a large extent, it was expected that both these committees would go nowhere and that the promise of peace through the negotiations of these nominees was never a serious effort from either party. The bombing of a cinema house in Peshawar and targeted attacks in Karachi had already raised questions about the utility of the peace process that had presented us with no results thus far. It was then claimed that the announcement of a cease fire between the government and the Taliban was just round the corner. Right after of course, came news of the 23 beheadings of the kidnapped FC men. Shamelessly, they took responsibility for these killings, and the official TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid stood by the Mohmand wing’s given reasons. Keeping in view this and other acts of extreme violence that have continued, the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif was now under tremendous pressure to announce a decisive policy for the elimination of militancy. The Pakistani army was also under pressure by rank and file soldiers who wanted to go out and teach the perpetrators of these crimes a real lesson. Now, any delay in action by Mian Nawaz Sharif can be construed as a further weakness on the part of the government which will have adverse repercussions both in the short term and long term for the security forces in this country. Politicians like Mr. Imran Khan and even some cabinet members have failed to forcefully condemn the action of murder committed by the Taliban and have instead issued mild reprimands for this crime.

 While it is true that the country is presently divided into certain misguided elements who perhaps support militant forces, they need to be isolated to save the overwhelming majority of the people who oppose fundamentalist Islamist ideals. Mian Nawaz Sharif also needs to understand that in case he waits for the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, it will become more difficult for the armed forces of this country to hunt down and eliminate terrorists. It would be prudent to take both Iran and Afghanistan on board regarding the anti-terrorism policies of this country and would mean the beginning of a cohesive and effective role played by Pakistan’s neighbors to reduce the menace of terrorism. It must be understood that without the help of the international community or for that matter the neighbors of this country, Pakistan’s limited resources that have already been stretched may fall short in confronting the issue of terrorism and achieving productive results. The Nawaz Sharif government has the support of all the major political parties to initiate a military operation against the Taliban because of their rigid and adamant attitude which has resulted in the loss of life and the destruction of property.

Therefore, the Government must stop playing confusion-politics, and reach some kind of concerted and decisive consensus on how to act. The army has announced a casualty count inside the armed forces of over 100 in the last five months. Even though the air strikes on the border areas last Wednesday are a start, one wonders if they are to last. Could they be the beginning of a real operation and the heralding in of a proactive policy by the Nawaz leadership?

 The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist.