If talks could kill

Published: January 4, 2013
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Shandana Minhas is a writer 
shandana.minhas@tribune.com.pk

Shandana Minhas is a writer shandana.minhas@tribune.com.pk

Now that the tide of public opinion seems to be turning against them, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their ilk have decided to go on a charm offensive. Their grip on charm is tenuous at the best of times — they shot a schoolgirl in the head recently and seemed genuinely befuddled by why more people did not see that as a positive move — still, they are trying. Just this past week, militants pulled a four-year-old boy out of a van before slaughtering the seven people inside, six of them women, five of them teachers, one perhaps, the boy’s mother? And, in another incident, militants abducted six soldiers but let the sweeper with them go. The sweeper was probably very relieved. The TTP kidnapped 22 Levies Force personnel last week. They killed them all, except for one. He got away, to die later in a hospital from his injuries. Anyway, the point is, to sweeten the lure to talk, the TTP has decided to go on a charm offensive by temporarily indulging in discriminatory slaughter as opposed to indiscriminate slaughter.

Any notion of talking to these worshippers of violence should then presumably be a no-brainer, a non-starter. At heart, they are child killers, psychopaths, delusional murderous scum. They look at women and girls and see whores and whores-in-waiting, which makes you wonder if they have accidentally stumbled across some porn. Repeatedly. Over the course of several years. You cannot trust them in Legoland or construction because their only talent seems to be breaking what others build. The sheen of ‘holy warriors’ dissipated a while ago, the ‘sons of our soil’ title crumbled when the tattooed Uzbek former gangster thing happened, mullahs from all over have been falling over each other recently to declare them ‘non-Muslim’…

Even Gulbuddin Hekmatyar doesn’t like them.

However, in Pakistan, the idea of talking to the TTP is not a non-starter. Some people, amongst our politicians, anchors, gilded magpies, educated middle classes, are discussing it. They are trying not to engage directly with the many talking points contained in the TTP’s terms for a truce — changing the Constitution and enforcing Sharia among them — because that would require them to think long term, and have already moved past their demonstrated refusal to reciprocate by disarming. “Baat karnay main kya harj hai yaar. We won’t talk to the ones who kill anyway, we’ll talk to the other ones.” Which other ones? The ones who cook? We’ll talk to the TTP’s beras? Shall we send Rehman Malik’s bawarchi?

How else to explain this lunacy but as a leap of faith? Are we so compassionate, so versed in the Sunnah of empathy that we will afford murderers the benefit of doubt? Shall we approach them with understanding? “Yes, you only killed my children because of the drone attacks; yes you blew up hundreds of schools before Ishq-e-Mamnoo gave you something to do in the evenings.” Shall we listen to their grievances? “Yes we are working to sign an agreement with Google so you are once again able to post videos of yourselves beheading non-combatants on Youtube.” And then, after the TTP has bought themselves another year in the spotlight and we have paid with another thousand lives for it, shall we be surprised by how it all turned out to be a ruse? “Haw hai,” we might say to each other, our eyebrows making for the moon, “they just don’t make murderous, Pakistan-loathing scum like they used to.”

In the imaginary referendum to see how many Pakistanis want to talk to the TTP as they are and how many want them disarmed and destroyed, tried and convicted, before handing them a biscuit and engaging them in small talk, please put my name in the second column. And speaking of columns, opinion pieces, that’s all this one was; my opinion on possible peace talks conveyed to my elected representatives, as they dither witlessly before a non-starter. I cannot call and tell them how I feel because I don’t have their direct numbers.

And even if I did, I may not be able to as cell phone networks would probably be shut down for the umpteenth time because of terrorist threats.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Huma
    Jan 4, 2013 - 11:24PM

    great piece. totally agree.

    Recommend

  • Falcon
    Jan 5, 2013 - 12:00AM

    I like your writing style. Very straight forward. But it would have been good to see your thoughts on the second proposed solution, which is breaking their backs. Does that mean we should go for the kill of 25 to 30 thousand militants?

    Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Jan 5, 2013 - 12:36AM

    Well written! Time to move all captured TTP/terrorists/militants to MILITARY COURTS, where the usual “lack of evidence” will not exist! Hopefully followed by summary execution, posted on YouTube for all to see (when the government quits screwing around with blocking it)!!Recommend

  • Polwala
    Jan 5, 2013 - 1:34AM

    Talk to them and read the riot act. End of.

    Recommend

  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jan 5, 2013 - 9:27AM

    @Falcon:
    Yes why not. If SRI LANKA can do it why cant we? Its all about single minded focus and determination. We need to ensure that no one (including you) dares to indirectly support
    TTP without getting publicly ridiculed.

    Have you forgotten the united Indian reaction to Mumbai massacre ( a single grisly incident compared to thousands we have suffered). Ask any Indian if he is willing to forgive and forget
    and move on, chances are he will grab your neck. The distinction of not getting into action even
    after getting hundreds of our army men brutally beheaded / slaughtered goes to our shameless
    nation.

    Recommend

  • anticorruption
    Jan 6, 2013 - 2:49AM

    @Falcon:

    Appeasement through talks or killing 20-30 thousand of them are not necessarily the only two choices. Many insurgencies conclude with political solutions, but not before the insurgents get worn out as a result of continued military operations and conclude that their struggle is going nowhere, and hence they would be better off laying down their arms. It is at such a stage that the counter-insurgent state is able to negociate from a position of strength where it does not have to accept any unacceptable demands. Untill then, the state has no choice but to pursue military means. The basic logical flaw in the stance of proponents of dialog with Taliban is the failure to acknowledge that even neggociated settlements to insurgencies take place on the basis of the use of force. Untill the Taliban are ready to accept the constitution, lay down their weapons, accept rule of law and tolerate basic human rights, there is no choice but to continue with military operations.

    Recommend

  • observer
    Jan 6, 2013 - 11:07AM

    @Shandana Minhas

    While you were looking the other way, the PTI and the Khan decided to ‘give peace a chance’ by opposing all talk of any action against the Taliban and by marching in their support and with their support to South Waziristan.

    (That they were prevented by the Army is a separate issue.)Recommend

  • Disgusted
    Jan 25, 2013 - 4:24PM

    @Falcon:
    What options do we have?
    If they (taliban) are not destroyed they will destroy us, Which do you prefer?

    No sane person can contemplate talking/reasoning with these barbarous murderers. If they knew the meaning of the word “reason” there would be no Taliban.

    Recommend

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