Say whatever you like about them, but you can’t accuse them of being disloyal. Mr Sami-ul-Haq and his fellow committee-members are role models for everyone to follow. They never forget who appointed them, and for what purpose.  If part of the job entails consciously misleading the general public, so be it. Nothing shall come in the way of duty. After all, it’s the TTP negotiations committee, not the peoples’ negotiation committee. So, if some (most) of their claims turn out to be completely false, it shouldn’t invite outrage. Most recently, they were rightly wrong about the progress made during the first round of direct talks between government representatives and the TTP. Reports reveal that the government’s committee-members experienced a considerable loss of optimism during the course of the meeting. Well, to be fair, the TTP does tend to have that effect on people across the board.

Contrary to expectations, the militants did not appear very eager to accommodate the government’s requests for the extension of ceasefire, or the release of innocent civilians abducted by the TTP. Instead, it had conditions of its own, which it directly linked with the extension of ceasefire and continuation of ‘peace talks.’ Once again, it reiterated its desire for the establishment of a “peace zone” where its members feel secure. Secondly, it called for the release of non-combatant prisoners, while handing over an additional list of 700 combatants to the government’s committee. These “confidence-building measures,” it is alleged, will pave the way for ‘eternal peace.’ In short, committee-members returned with no guarantees, just some instructions from an outlawed terrorist organisation.

It was the TTP which announced unilateral ceasefire after a few visits from PAF fighter jets. The government had only responded in the affirmative.  Then, why is the government appearing more desperate to extend the agreement? If anything, it is only the TTP which has benefited from the ceasefire. The people have been relentlessly targeted, the same as before. It is safe to say that the TTP has more at stake if talks break down, or the ceasefire ends. Keeping that in mind, the government’s weak approach towards the dialogue process makes little sense. The militants will always give the impression that they stand to lose nothing if the ceasefire breaks. But in this case, they do. And that is something which the decision-makers cannot forget when dealing with them. Whether the government has the ability to call the bluff on this one is the real question here.