Talking to the TTP
Despite the victory of a pro-peace coalition and its overtures to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), militancy and violence continues unabated in the province. The recent suicide bombing in Mardan, which killed dozens, including MPA Imran Khan Mohmand, is a strong statement by the TTP that their goals are not likely to disappear because of a change in the provincial government. This is the second member of the provincial assembly who has been murdered by a militant attack.
Efforts are underway to hold an All Parties Conference in the wake of this tragedy. Certain political parties have been highlighting the need to initiate talks with the TTP to secure peace in the province and the rest of the country. The efforts of the US to hold talks with the Afghan Taliban are being cited as a reference for holding negotiations with the TTP. Such comparisons are misleading and questionable. The TTP continues to reject the very basis of the Pakistani Constitution and routinely flouts federal and provincial laws. Moreover, with its sustained bombing of girls’ schools, it also undermines the state policy of providing education to all and delivering services to its citizens. Thus far, the TTP has relentlessly attacked Pakistani targets and over 40,000 lives have been lost in this process. Thousands of soldiers and officers of the Pakistan Army have also been killed by the TTP. Acceding to talks with the TTP while they reject the Constitution and the state’s territorial sovereignty would set a terrible precedent and also lead to legal complications with respect to the clearly stated constitutional provisions.
As the PTI and its allies take charge in K-P, it would be worth remembering the significance attached in the party manifesto to achieving peace within the province. Hopefully, the party realises the mammoth task at hand and manages to turn the tables around in a conflict that is becoming increasingly devastating for the province and its citizens. The elections have been over for a while now and it is time to mould rhetoric into policy and achieve results. Most importantly, it needs to review its proposed strategy to deal with the situation in the wake of the attacks on MPAs in the province.