The government didn’t try hard enough. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is eager to negotiate. Intermediaries can speak and provide guarantees on behalf of the TTP. The government must declare a ceasefire in order to create a favourable environment for ‘peace talks.’ All this is absolute nonsense, and it is relentlessly propagated on mainstream media. Unfortunately, the people seem to have acquired a taste for it. That is one of the major reasons why the country has been stuck in a vicious cycle for years. Every time we try to fight back, apologists pretending to be pacifists push us back in. One more round of negotiations, they say. It will work this time. Just a little more patience. Peace is coming. It’s almost here.  And on and on and on it goes.

The fact is that negotiations with terrorists cannot and will not work. There is nothing the state can offer them without seriously undermining its position, and setting a poor precedent for years to follow. Despite tremendous pressure from the general public and elsewhere, the federal government risked it all to ‘give peace a chance.’ The military was instructed against launching any attacks, and it obeyed. What more did the pro-talks camp expect PM Nawaz Sharif to do in order to accommodate an outlawed organisation which has killed more than 50,000 civilians?

Professor Ibrahim Khan of Jamat-e-Islami and Maulana Sami-ul-Haq were telling us that the nation would soon hear “good news” from the TTP. A day later TTP’s Mohmand chapter proudly revealed it had beheaded 23 FC soldiers. After this, there should be no doubt that interlocutors are in no position to give assurances on behalf of the TTP. By pretending that they can, they are doing a great disservice to the people. Also, the TTP central shura’s lack of control on other groups affiliated with it has been badly exposed. It has zero credibility, which means that no sustainable settlement can be reached.

The pro-talks camp has also opposed the retaliatory action in NWA, and reiterated that the government must declare ceasefire. In other words, the state should surrender its right to hit back. In their understanding, the government can condemn acts of terrorism and express grief, but should never take action; never retaliate. No more time can be wasted on reasoning with the unreasonable.