The Pakistani Taliban has not fully withdrawn from their peace talks’ offer, they have just revised the ‘peace package’ by clearly declaring for Pakistanis whom they shall favour and vote for in the upcoming elections. They have warned their countrymen not to attend any election rallies of liberal political parties such as the PPP, ANP and MQM. In this way, they have openly aligned with their direct and indirect supporters — Pakistan’s religious/political and right-wing parties. Whether religious parties such as JI, JUI or right-wing parties such as PML-N or PTI, they all favour dialogue with the Taliban on their (Taliban’s) conditions. That is why the Taliban have nominated these parties’ leaders, Munawar Hassan of JI, Nawaz Sharif of PML-N and Fazlur Rahman of JUI, as their guarantors during the proposed peace talks with the army.

I wonder whether Pakistan’s religious/right-wing parties will take the bait offered by the Taliban and prefer a relatively peaceful election of their candidates while the TTP continue to target liberal parties’ workers, or will they join hands with the country’s liberal forces to put up a united front against this menace of religious extremism. Pakistan’s religious/right-wing parties need to understand that their alignment with the Taliban is short-lived. They will ultimately face the same fate as others; it is just a matter of time. We need to stand united against those forces who do not believe in the country’s constitution, democracy, judiciary, women rights and prevailing education system. I believe none of us living in the 21st century want to go back to the dark ages. Do you?

MASOOD KHAN

Jubail,Saudi Arabia