Talking to the Taliban

Published: September 17, 2013

LAHORE: Winston Churchill once said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last”. This quote aptly  describes the outcome of the recent APC held by the government of Pakistan. In a bid to prevent further bloodshed, the government has held out an olive branch by offering to talk with the Taliban without any pre-conditions. The Taliban have welcomed this offer but before proceeding forward with talks, they have stipulated certain conditions which need to be met. They want withdrawal of security forces from North Waziristan, an immediate halt to drone strikes, the release of 4,000 prisoners and compensation for those who have been killed by the security forces.

So, the state is willing to talk to the Taliban who have challenged its authority, have wreaked havoc in the country and caused more than 40,000 civilian deaths. But the Taliban would have nothing to do with this offer of talks, if the government fails to act according to their wishes. The government must understand that a policy of appeasement never works and it only gives more space to the aggressor. Take the case of Hitler before World War II. In order to prevent war, Britain bent over backwards to appease him, but this only emboldened him and he continued to annex more territories. Finally, the result was a war in which concrete action was taken against him. Had he been stopped earlier maybe there would not have been a second world war.

Our political leaders today face an even more difficult situation than British politicians faced half a century ago. The British had to deal with a single man and his army, whereas our enemy here is like a hydra with no single leader and no definite territory. Our prime minister can either become Winston Churchill, by taking action against these militants, or Neville Chamberlain, whose policy of appeasement forced Britain into a full-fledged war.

Omer Butt

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2013.

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