The fluid security situation, coupled with political uncertainty in the wake of the upcoming elections, is compelling the army to tread cautiously on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)’s recent overtures for peace talks.
At a meeting of the top military brass chaired by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, held in Rawalpindi on Thursday, the army decided to adopt a ‘wait and watch’ policy before taking any conclusive decision on the talks offer.
A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said it was a routine meeting in which ‘professional matters’ were discussed. However, sources revealed that the commanders discussed the current internal security situation at great length, including the TTP offer of holding peace talks.
As a result of these deliberations, the commanders decided to adopt a cautious approach to the offer in an effort to let the country’s civilian authorities take a final decision in the matter, sources added.“The situation is still evolving and we don’t want to make a final judgment at this stage,” remarked a military official.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said “political parties are deliberating on the issue and any statement on our (army’s) behalf may be interpreted negatively.”
The conventional wisdom among both civilian and military officials is that a talks offer can only be taken seriously if intentions are demonstrated through the announcement of a ceasefire by the TTP. That is more or less the stance of the civilian government.
This view was recently reinforced by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, when he asked TTP to announce a ceasefire if it was serious in its offer to hold a dialogue.
Sources say that the government is expected to take an important decision on this issue by next week, when a meeting of the country’s top decision making body on issues of national security is scheduled to be held to discuss the TTP offer.
The meeting of Cabinet Committee on Defence will be chaired by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and is expected to be attended by all key ministers in the cabinet, along with services chiefs and heads of intelligence agencies.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2013.