Pakistan's military and legislators plan peace talks with Taliban
In the midst of bad and worsening relations with Washington, Pakistan considers new round of peace talks with Pakistan-based Taliban, arguing that 'military solutions' are making things worse.
(Page 3 of 3)
“Their agenda is different," Brigadier Saad adds. "Their ideology is in clash with the norms and values of any modern civilized society.”Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The military struck peace alliances with Taliban militant commanders including Naik Mohammad and Baitullah Mehsud, both of whom were later killed by US missiles in Pakistan's semi-autonomous South Waziristan district. In 2008, a provincial ruling party called the Awami National Party signed a peace accord with Taliban leaders in Swat in February 2009 and allowed them to implement Islamic sharia law in the Swat valley. But in return, the Taliban denounced Pakistan’s constitution and its parliament, and tried to extend strict Islamic laws beyond the Swat Valley to the rest of Pakistan. Pakistan's military eventually moved into the Swat valley in May 2009 and pushed out the Taliban with military force.
Reaching out to the Pakistani Taliban will be problematic, because the terrain occupied by the Taliban is difficult to travel in, and the local population of religiously conservative tribesmen show strong support for the Taliban.
Even more difficult is determining who actually is in a position to negotiate on behalf of the main militant group, the TTP. The TTP, which is still controlling parts of Pakistan's tribal belt along the Afghan border, is a cluster of many militant outfits with different backgrounds and carrying different ideologies, unlike Afghan Taliban-led by Mullah Omar.
“So today it's much more difficult to talk to the militants and it's quite hard to bring Pakistani Taliban on to the negotiating table and much harder will be to reach a consensus with them with various ideologies,” says Washington-based analyst, Imtiaz Ali, a research fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU). “Apparently they may look weaker because of the continuous military operations against them but there are so many groups. So the big question will be whom to talk to.”
The other question will be who represents the government. “If they choose pro-Taliban clerics and religious leaders, they will mess it up because they deep down share their (the militants') views so there can’t be any legitimacy,” says Khadim Hussain, director at Ariana independent think-tank in Islamabad. “The talks will carry legitimacy if the negotiators are moderate and influential political figures. I believe they should adopt a model like Afghanistan’s Peace Council headed by slain [former Afghan president Burhanuddin] Rabbani.”