Editorial : March 2014
The Problematic Ceasefire ……
Dr.Rasheed Hasan Khan
2014 commenced with a horrendous rise in the genocidal violence perpetrated by the TTP and its allied groups, mainly in the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and urban Sind. The persistence of this spate of violence finally forced the regime to sanction air strikes on the TTP nerve centers in North Waziristan. The air strikes as expected, inflicted a lot of damage on the inhabitants of the area resulting in a mass exodus of the population. This further aggravated the problem of IDPS in Khyber pukhtunkhwa since there is already a backlog of IDPS from the Operation in Malakand Agency. The damage to TTP and its allied organizations, according to Military sources, is considerable, but there is no means of verifying these claims independently.
During the period under review, the Government had started a round of “peace talks” with TTP in a curious and almost comical way – members of the nominated Taliban Negotiating team were not officials of the Taliban but comprised of Taliban fellow travelers such as Maulana Sami ul haq and Yusuf Shah. Imran Khan and Maulana Fazlur Rehman had been included at first but they declined, perhaps realizing that this would create an ambiguity about their position in the Pakistani political scene. The “negotiations” were in the initial stages when 23 prisoners belonging to Pakistan’s Frontier Corp were murdered in a most atrocious way by a TTP allied organisation in Kunar Province of Afghanistan. The Pakistan government was forced to break off “negotiations” and call for air strikes on TTP headquarters.
This was the latest in a series of aborted “peace talks” that can be traced over the past decade or so. In the past US and NATO forces were often responsible for aborting negotiations between TTP and Pakistani authorities, but this time around, the perpetration of violence on ‘soft’ targets, civil or military, has been the work of religious extremists and is too sustained for it to be taken as a chance happening. According to official Pakistan government estimates there are more than 50 groups operating separately or under the TTP umbrella in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and the tribal areas. Every time there is any sign of a rapprochement between the TTP and the government, one or other previously unknown group carries out an atrocity to sabotage the talks. The TTP and the government of Pakistan had declared a ceasefire for a period of one month when a previously unheard of organization named Ahrar ul Hind carried out a dastardly attack on unarmed civilians in the District Court premises in Rawalpindi causing numerous fatalities among the judges, lawyers and litigants in the premises of the court on the 3 of March 2014.
The gravity of the situation calls for a thorough reappraisal of the negotiation process at the earliest. The responsibility for any violence perpetrated by any of these groups should be ascertained by the relevant authority at the earliest and effective punitive measures initiated without fail. The TTP should take the responsibility for the actions of all the groups if it claims to represent all these groups or it should support punitive measures against those violating the cease fire. If a new assessment of the changing paradigms of the situation is not made- it would remain a problematic peace process.