Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif finally blessed the Parliament with his distinguished presence, and informed the nation of his government’s decision to stay stuck in the cycle it has been caught in since coming to power. The PM’s hyped up address in the National Assembly exposed the erroneousness of the claims regarding his improved understanding and clarity on the issue of terrorism. It was announced that dialogue with the terrorists remains the government’s top priority, and a four-member committee had been formed to negotiate on its behalf. So, what has exactly happened after the failure of previous attempts, series of attacks by the terrorists, several rounds of intense discussions? The status quo is maintained, and yet another second-chance is given as an excuse for criminal inaction.

According to the PM, he was compelled to ‘give peace another chance’ after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) made fresh offers for peace talks. If our course of action is dictated by statements issued by the TTP, then we are truly done for. Why not take their statements seriously? Maybe because if TTP was a person, it would’ve been diagnosed with compulsive lying disorder. The terrorist organization has a history of going back on its word and purposefully misleading the government to take advantage of the resulting inaction. We must stop expecting murderers and criminals to hold true to their word simply because they claim to be fighting for religion. The government should ask itself: What has changed so dramatically since last week? Why the sudden change of heart in the TTP camp? Before, it denounced the government as weak and subservient, and suddenly, it seeks meaningful conversations. Nothing has changed. If anything, it appeared we were inching towards making the right decision. But, that couldn’t happen because the TTP feels like talking again. Its strategy is too simply, but unfortunately, effective enough for our confused decision-makers.

And, what to say about the new committee? It comprises of two journalists, an ambassador, and a former intelligence officer. Mr Irfan Siddiqui is a renowned columnist, Mr Raheemullah Yousafzai is an excellent reporter well versed in the ways of the tribal areas, Mr Rushtam Shah Mohmand is widely respected as a knowledgeable diplomat while Major Amir’s claim to fame is his role in Operation Midnight Jackal launched to topple Benazir Bhutto’s government in 1989. Seems kind of an odd set of people to negotiate peace with militant extremists on behalf of the Pakistani government. Other than that, the committee’s mandate has not been defined, nor the parameters that will control negotiations. Most importantly, no time frame has been set, and things have been left open-ended as always. The government cannot employ delay tactics for too long. At least, not without paying the price for it.