A ceasefire between the government and the Pakistani Taliban will continue as part of a deal in which the two sides will give each other more time to crumble on their own, tribal elders privy to the deal have said.

Analysts say the withdrawal of Taliban threats to journalists is part of the agreement, which will allow Pakistan to kill its own journalists.

“The government has been able to persuade the military in a recent meeting that Taliban hideouts in dangerous strategic locations can be located and destroyed, and their key leaders can be identified and targeted by other Taliban factions while the government continues to respect the recent truce,” a security official said.

“Meanwhile, the team of negotiators that the government had sent to Waziristan has assured the Taliban that Pakistan’s civil and military institutions are fully capable of violating the fundamental rights of their own citizens in the name of religion and security, and the Pakistani society is already on the path to anarchy and civil war.” Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the US had not carried out any new drone strikes in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan for the same reasons.

According to a senior Mehsud tribal elder, key militant commanders agreed in a Taliban Shura meeting last week that their key objective was to replace democracy and civil rights in Pakistan with authoritarian Sharia laws that include an end to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and women’s rights. “We have killed innocent civilians – including journalists, doctors and teachers – and destroyed state infrastructure – including schools, hospitals and law-enforcement installations – in order to meet this key objective,” a Taliban leader reportedly said. The purpose of this violence, he said, was to make sure that the economy of Pakistan collapses, its education and health infrastructure are ruined leading to widespread illiteracy and disease, and the legitimacy of its political system is questioned, speeding up its decline towards anarchy, providing the Taliban an opportunity to take over.

“We are convinced now that we do not need to use senseless violence to meet these objectives,” he said. “The Pakistani government and military are fully capable of carrying out these tasks by themselves. Therefore, as part of our new plan, we will abide by the ceasefire for an indefinite period of time.”

The Mehsud elder said it did not take too long for the Taliban council to approve the strategy after their negotiations team cited threats to journalists, widespread internet censorship, sectarian violence, laws and traditions violating women’s rights, poor governance, lack of spending in the health and education sectors, enormous foreign debts and bickering between the government and the military as proofs that the plan would be more devastating than direct bomb attacks.

“According to the data collected by our organization in the last decade or so, it may be safe to conclude that their notion is not entirely unfounded,” a security expert from the development sector said.

Meanwhile, the top brass of Pakistan Army decided in a meeting that despite reservations, they would respect the government’s truce with the Taliban. The move followed deliberations between the political and military leaders during which the two sides agreed that the best way to ensure the Taliban do not begin to run a state of their own was to allow them to run a state of their own. “The most important thing in counterinsurgency is to win the support of locals, and not just to take control of territory,” one official explained. “If the Taliban are allowed to rule Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and especially Punjab, within a few years the media will ensure that they lose all moral authority among the locals to rule them.”

A retired military official said counterinsurgency operations also included tangible targets. “In order to drive out the main body of armed insurgents, we need to identify their key leaders and locate their hideouts.” Some of these hideouts could be located more easily if the Taliban came out of the mountains and took over Peshawar and Islamabad, he said. “Other hideouts, in the mountains of FATA, may be identified and destroyed by other Taliban factions who did not get to rule Peshawar and Islamabad.”

Some security analysts say such a situation might also provide Pakistan with the opportunity, in about two decades, to invite and trap the US in yet another war.

The author has a degree in Poetics of Prophetic Discourse and works as a Senior Paradigm Officer.

Email:harris@nyu.edu

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