The very Taliban with whom the government believes good-faith negotiations are possible is now claiming to have killed 15 captured Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel. The FC men were captured during a security operation in Khyber Agency and even though the military says they haven’t received confirmation of their deaths, it was announced by a Taliban spokesman. This, needless to say, is not the action of an honourable enemy which follows the rules of war. Had the Taliban any interest in civilised conduct, it would have held the personnel until hostilities had ceased and then released them. That they executed the FC men is bad enough. What makes it even worse is that they did it at a time when the government is looking to compromise. Not that the executions should come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with how the Taliban handles such situations. In 2007, the Taliban captured 300 Pakistani soldiers, whose release the military were so keen on ensuring that they freed over a hundred Taliban fighters as a goodwill gesture. In return, the Taliban released only 30 soldiers and killed three, mutilating their bodies after doing so. Previously, the Taliban has also released recordings of soldiers and policemen who were summarily executed by firing squad. By now, we should have learned that such wanton cruelty and brutality is the Taliban’s stock in trade. The thousands of soldiers who have been killed trying to defeat the militant menace deserve better.
After this, if we still insist that negotiations are the best course of action, talks should come with certain prerequisites. First among them should be an insistence that captured men on both sides will not be executed. Failure to abide by this should lead to an immediate end to talks. If the Taliban want to negotiate on an equal footing and have a ceasefire, then they must change their violent ways. Both sides have to give up something for talks to work; for the government it may mean accepting that their rule will be subordinate to the Taliban’s in the tribal areas while for the latter this means renouncing their terrorism tactics. Ultimately, though, the government must realise these talks will fail since the Taliban have shown no inclination to put down their swords.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ
Please do not make the mistake of confusing Taliban with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). This is TTP's doing, It's a body that has been disowned voceferously and repeatedly since Day 1 by the Afghani Taliban. TTP is a confused band of assorted thugs.
The motto of Taleban from their present and past record is- 'NEGOTIATE AT YOUR OWN RISK AND BE PREPARED TO DIE OR GET DUPED.'
Are you going to let one small incident like this derail talks with these guys ?
Brutality at it best !
Even though these cowardly barbarians did the same things to the hindus (your ancestors) in the middle ages on a large scale, your textbooks celebrate it as a victory of 'Ghazis' over infidels. But when they do the same thing to you, it hurts.
These barbarians do such things because they are encouraged by the official narrative in pakistan which glorifies such actions in the past. Only a rational,secular reading of history can bring genuine and longstanding rapproachment with them.
You don't have a supply train you can interrupt but at least you can have the decency to stop negotiation with people who execute your soldiers. Where is Zardari or your Parliament on this issue --- where is the outrage? And who gave the ISI the right to decide the fate of Pakistan?
" Both sides have to give up something for talks to work; for the government it may mean accepting that their rule will be subordinate to the Taliban’s in the tribal areas ". Happy to note that this editorial says Taliban rule is acceptable, very democratic indeed. Should the State Police and Constabulary also hand over their weapons to them so that the Taliban can also maintain Law and Order ? How about bringing the Courts into this - am sure it is much easier for the Court to try and unseat democratically elected leaders. Does something called the Constitution figure in any of this ?