Talks with Taleban

Islamabad’s ambition to cultivate the Taleban through talks has again hit snags.

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Published: Fri 18 Apr 2014, 9:51 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:26 PM

The reason is simple: there is much unsaid between them than what is in black and white. A lack of coordination and a large number of interlocutors involved in facilitating the peace process have only helped in creating more obstacles. After a ceasefire of more than 46 days, the militants have unilaterally decided to end the truce, and have indirectly blamed the powers-that-be for torpedoing the talks. The finger is pointed at the powerful army who, the Taleban believe, is not on board or at least not on the same wavelength with the government. The country is now back in the grip of fear as more than 60,000 people have already died in a decade of homegrown terrorism.

If reports from cabinet discussions are any indication, there seems to be some sharp differences between the Taleban and the government on the former’s demand of prisoner release. To the dismay of the army and the intelligence authorities, the government had released some high-profile members of the Taleban without even disclosing their names and the rationale behind the deal and without clinching any concessions from the militants. The commanders’ conference of the Pakistan Army has openly expressed its displeasure at the move, which was later covered up under various explanations.

The point is no one knows what the talks agenda is, what could be a possible deal and if the nation would finally get some respite from the bloodshed. As far as the foreign policy is concerned, the government has a positive card to boast as American drone strikes have come to an end as promised by US President Barack Obama in order to facilitate the talks. But this does not mean that the Pentagon and the State Department are convinced, as many of the policy-makers have reservations and believe that target-precision attacks have served the purpose of eliminating terror outfits.

Last but not the least is the problem of so many fringe groups that have mushroomed, sharing the Taleban name. Going by the recent terror attacks in the country that were owned up by new groups calling themselves pro-Taleban, the government seems to be having more than a handful to handle. If the terror nexus survives, a wave of such attacks would deal a death blow to the progressive and forward-looking nation of 180 million people who believe in civil society and the rule or law.

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