Negotiating with the Taliban: The attacks are on, but so are talks

Published: November 24, 2011

TTP shura has spelt out conditions for a peace agreement with the government. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The Taliban may not have declared a ceasefire, as Wednesday’s attack on a Dera Ismail Khan police station would show, but they are talking to the government, reports suggest, despite vehement denials from all sides.

Affiliates close to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan deputy chief Waliur Rehman Mehsud, and officials of security agencies told The Express Tribune here on Wednesday that peace talks between the two sides have been going on for some time now.

In fact, sources add, a TTP shura, or decision-making council, has spelt out conditions for a peace agreement with the government where they would cease unilateral attacks on security forces, but not lay down their weapons.

The Taliban, however, have been moving back and forth on the issue. A top commander on Tuesday said a ceasefire had been in place for more than a month to give time for negotiations but their spokesperson thrashed it the next day when TTP fighters attacked a police station in Dera Ismail Khan.

The military also issued a strong denial after reports of peace negotiations surfaced over the weekend.

“Several initial hurdles have been crossed and negotiations are at an advanced level … we have already entered into a make-or-break stage,” said a security official privy to the talks taking place through local tribesmen, religious leaders based in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi and some members from the Saudi royal family.

The demands

A list of demands has already been handed over to government’s emissaries, including at least one parliamentarian from the area belonging to a religious group and highly respected among Taliban ranks, individuals close to TTP deputy chief said.

According to them, the Taliban have offered to cease attacks on Pakistan Army, if they are not attacked, but have refused to deweaponise, a pre-condition to peace talks set by Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

The TTP also wants the government to release several dozen detained activists currently in custody of Pakistani security agencies, sources added.

The militant group would not have any objection to the presence of Pakistan military either in the North Waziristan region or the Wazir tribe-populated areas of the south, including Wana – the agency’s headquarters, another TTP insider said.

The shura has also demanded compensation for those killed during the military operation in South Waziristan and reconstruction of damaged houses.

What about Mehsud?

It is not clear, however, if TTP’s fugitive chief Hakimullah Mehsud was also part of these negotiations.

An affiliate of the deputy chief said the shura held more than three meetings in the mountains of Shawal, a thick forest at the border of North and South Waziristan.

Hakimullah did not attend any of those meetings, sources said.

There have been reports in the past that Mehsud is fast losing control over the group he once led absolutely, and Rehman, whom the TTP leader appointed as commander for South Waziristan back in 2009, is gradually replacing him as the new chief.

Security officials working in the area have long concluded that Mehsud is aligned with al Qaeda’s hard line ideology and is no longer reconcilable.

The security establishment, on the other hand, has always been ‘positive’ about prospects of striking a peace deal with Rehman, who follows the Deobandi school of thought, compared to al Qaeda’s hardline Salafi school.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2011.

Reader Comments (22)

  • muhammad altaf
    Nov 24, 2011 - 9:29AM

    How can you negotiate with such savages? these religious fanatics chop off heads,stone women to death,blow up girls’ schools so all girls remain illeterate and under their control,they whip women,murder gays and lesbians for the way they were born,kill atheists.these cavemen are not people you negotiate with,these barbarians have to be eliminated,not talked to.

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  • R S JOHAR
    Nov 24, 2011 - 10:06AM

    ISPR had issue a denial that they were holding talks with TTP but it so appears that they still want to strike a deal with one of its faction. TTP is extremely shrewed and slippery oufit and like LTTE will have to overpowered by shear force and not by negotiations.

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  • Rehman
    Nov 24, 2011 - 10:08AM

    Good step by the Govt. The people of pakistan have suffered alot.

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  • Nass
    Nov 24, 2011 - 10:24AM

    acceptance..denials..denials..acceptance… In short where there is smoke there is fire!!

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  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Nov 24, 2011 - 10:29AM

    Is Pakistan Army & Govt. negotiating with these BEASTS from the position of Power or as losers requesting the savages to stop attacks???

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  • JustAnotherPakistani
    Nov 24, 2011 - 10:30AM

    Don’t negotiate. Kill them to the last man. They’re on the run.

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  • Sultan Mehmood
    Nov 24, 2011 - 10:56AM

    Very Good steps; peace talks should be made, though not as only option like Imran Khan’s thinking.

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  • Uzair arif
    Nov 24, 2011 - 1:40PM

    @just another pakistani
    we must differentiate between the actual terrorists and the one’s who took arms in their hands because of the wrong policies of the state, “crushing and killing them to the last man” wont help the cause of peace infact it has proved to be counter productive,thus peace deal is a good initiative however conditions of the treaty must be set in a way to aim for the eternal peace and harmony of fata and pakistan at large..

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  • Anjum
    Nov 24, 2011 - 2:10PM

    Insane. Allowing an armed group inside the state, crazy. Whenever they want thay can start a terror war. Where is our agencies? Their creation their damn duty to annihilate these TTP and any other armed group opposing the rule of law. Pak zindabad

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  • Sirat-ul-mustaqeem
    Nov 24, 2011 - 2:39PM

    We must give peace a chance, those who say kill them to the last man i do not know which world do they live in. Pakistan has suffered so much in just 5 to 6 years of fight and we all know the bad policies which caused this havoc. Its time to talk and reach an agreement. May Allah keep Pakistan safe and Peace prevail in this land. Ameen

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  • Parvez
    Nov 24, 2011 - 3:28PM

    This is literally a David and Goliath fight. For Goliath to win he has to transform himself into a David, which is so not easy and everyone knows who wins in the original story.

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  • salman
    Nov 24, 2011 - 3:37PM

    I think it’s a good for all of us to negotiate with taliban.Because we don’t have any other option.

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  • Khan
    Nov 24, 2011 - 4:32PM

    @Sirat-ul-mustaqeem:
    How do you give peace a chance? To all those who are harping on for negotiations with these irrational savages … Please tell us as how do you give peace a chance? by letting them blow up girls schools?, by letting them kill all those who are patriots while labeling them agents?.
    How was it wrong policy for the state to go after these people when they were crossing in to another country to attack NATO & US? All together they are 28+1+1 =30 countries.
    Do you really think they would have sit quietly while these people were attacking them would not they retaliate? The only solution was to stop these people from crossing the border and getting involved in anti state activities through using force after they DID NOT heed advices from GoP several times or let all those 30 countries attack them in FATA. Which one would you choose?.

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  • Seher Siddiqui
    Nov 24, 2011 - 5:29PM

    while Govt. is negotiating with TTP, they are busy in looting banks in Karachi and Lahore to raise funds for terrorism during Moharram. Government has got to be cognizant of this fact. these trigger happy, ruthless, illiterates and anti Islam characters are not reliable.

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  • fast
    Nov 24, 2011 - 5:31PM

    Hakimullah Mehsud should die fast

    india killed maoist kishenji

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  • Sirat-ul-mustaqeem
    Nov 24, 2011 - 5:50PM

    @Khan: Pakistan had to fight them because we helped america and nato in their fight in Afghanistan, I believe we can negotiate and reach some peaceful agreement in which they would stop attacking girls schools and etc, if we offer them something in return may be by completely or partially stopping the nato supplies or ending the drone strikes. I think in this way, we can in one way put a halt to rising extremism in Pakistan and also peace can be achieved.

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  • malik
    Nov 24, 2011 - 6:33PM

    a new tactics of Mullahs – save the assets! and get stablized to take over Pakistan when the situation become suitable – atleast this can be a bargaining tool for Mullahs to get in power – whatever the case is Mullah Ideology should give up politics of weapons and must learn to live within rules which applies to them more than any body else becuase they had been proved more dangerous than any other community of this state – bottom line! these Mullahs have killed 35000 Pakistanis and want to kill more under their hypocartic smiles – they hate us more than hindus and they are more dangerous for us than hindus (although both are strategic allies and both do not believe in Pakistan – if you do not believe it ask them)

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  • M Salik
    Nov 24, 2011 - 6:43PM

    TTP cannot be compared with LTTE: Sri Lanka is small Island state in which the LTTE had limited options, while Pakistan is much Larger with porous borders all around. To end the cycle of violence negotiations with the TTP will be required, otherwise the war will never end. Brute force on the part of the Army will only cause more casualties on both sides and drain the economy further.

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  • what abt hakimmulah mehsud
    Nov 24, 2011 - 9:03PM

    what abt hakimmulah mehsud

    india killed kishenji maoist

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  • Hasan Mehmood
    Nov 24, 2011 - 11:15PM

    I want answer to only one question from all readers endorsing negotiations i.e

    Does the peace negotiations have a clause prohibiting “SPREAD OF STONE AGE SHARIA THROUGH THE BARREL OF GUN AND NECK CHOPPING KNIFE AT THE HANDS OF TALIBAN?

    Should we understand that as long as they dont attack security forces and carry out suicide attacks in urban areas, they are free to terrorize local population and brutally enforce their brand of twisted Sharia at the pain of death. Are we the dwellers of settled areas so selfish and myopic?

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  • hedgefunder
    Nov 25, 2011 - 12:05AM

    This is possibly New Pakistan Style Negociations as while one is talking, the other is shooting and blowing people up !!!!
    The people responsible for running this country really need to wake up !!!

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  • MarkH
    Nov 25, 2011 - 1:19AM

    @salman:
    What an amazing contradiction to your country’s pride in its military. They’re little militant groups who’s main advantages are the borders and a distorted definition of sovereignty. Without inside support from your own people and complaining groups in their favor, this would be over and done with. Instead of people concentrating on getting rid of them and their support, the bicker in all areas favoring their ability to hide and kill again.
    From all the comments I see from people boasting of the military might of Pakistan this should be easy for you.

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