Those who still think it is possible to negotiate with the Taliban need only glance at their latest ‘ceasefire’ deal to realise how talks with such people are impossible. The Taliban want a surrender, not a ceasefire. The terms of this proposed deal are that the government impose Sharia — the TTP’s interpretation of it, one assumes — and break off all ties with the US. In addition, the TTP would like us to stop taking sides between the Taliban and the Karzai government in Afghanistan and instead launch a war against India. Needless to say, the government has — quite rightly — rejected the terms of this preposterous deal. Accepting would have been equal to admitting defeat against the TTP and implementing its twisted and misguided agenda.
If one good thing comes out of this ceasefire proposal, it is that those in the government who still think peace deals with the Taliban can work should now be disabused of that notion. How can one talk to a foe who is so insistent on getting its way in every matter, both large and small? And a government that hands over the running of its foreign policy to a terrorist entity with no regard for human life has no business being in power in the first place. It is important to remember that soon after coming into power in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the ANP agreed to the Taliban’s demands and imposed Shariah law in Swat. Even that was not enough for Mullah Fazlullah and his band of fanatics and they soon wanted more. Since then, the ANP has learned better than to try and negotiate with hardened terrorists.
There is only one actual solution to the Taliban menace and that is to defeat them militarily and ideologically. This means a military offensive in North Waziristan that will not be concluded until the Taliban have surrendered. And it means tackling the hate and propaganda that spews forth from them daily and has consequences like the murders of polio workers and anti-Taliban politicians. If there is one thing we should have learned from the assassination of the ANP’s Bashir Bilour, it is that fighting the Taliban can make you a target but it is far better to die an honourable death than continue to live a life of surrender.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2012.