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Writ of state must prevail

Is it their desperation over failure to win the hearts and minds of people of Pakistan or elation over spectacular jailbreak and wanton killings that motivated the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan offer to engage in dialogue with the government, there is no agreed answer as yet. But for the government to say 'yes' to the dialogue offer it is all the more difficult now given an almost impossible to meet precondition put forward by them. Don't hang our men is the precondition. Belonging to Punjabi Taliban affiliate of the TTP these four men are on death row, and now that Zardari-enforced moratorium on hanging has been lifted they are due for execution next week. Should the Nawaz Sharif government go ahead with executions "it will have to pay the price", warns Maulana Asmatullah Muavia, the spokesman for the TTP (Punjab). He hasn't quantified the 'price' as such but did threaten withdrawal of dialogue offer, as he says was the case when TTP's second-in-command Waliur Rehman was killed in a drone strike and the offer was withdrawn.

The Maulana has tried to sell also a thesis that per se the PML (N) and PTI are not against the Taliban, but it's the "pro-establishment and pro-Indian lobbies" that are out to sabotage the dialogue. How ironic it is that the very people whose hands carry the blood of thousands of innocent Pakistanis and who have spared no effort whatsoever to undermine the strategic potentialities of Pakistan, the only country in the world created in the name of Islam, should be telling us who is our friend and who is our enemy. We hope the PML (N) government would not be taken in by this blackmail and go ahead with executions under the law. That the Pakistan government should be forced to spare the criminals under threat of negative reprisals is not on.

But the drama does not end here. There are some people in here who are still espousing the cause of the Taliban. On Monday, the Jamaat-i-Islami chief Syed Munawar Hussain called upon the government to take the Taliban's offer of peace talks "seriously and hold a meaningful dialogue with militants". JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman too advocates the same approach. No wonder then both of them have been nominated by the TTP as 'guarantors' on behalf of the government. The JI chief is upset that the government has yet to respond to the Taliban offer, and tauntingly asks 'if it is waiting for a green signal from the US government'. According to him, if the Americans can talk to the Afghan Taliban then what is wrong if there is a Pakistan government-Taliban dialogue? With due respect to the Jamaat chief's prognosis, one would like him to comprehend the enormity of the mismatch between these two situations. The Afghan Taliban are fighting against foreign occupation. But is this the case in Pakistan? TTP is fighting its own people. While the chief of Afghan Taliban Mullah Omar has modified his stand for the cause of peace in his country by signalling to his opponents that the 'Islamic Emirate doesn't think of monopolizing power, rather we believe in reaching understanding with Afghans regarding an Afghan-inclusive government based on Islamic principles'. Do we know, or does anybody know of any such accommodation offered by the TTP. Even when it's difficult to find out what has prompted the TTP has renewed its offer talks to the government, one thing can be said with certainty is that this killing machine has no future in Pakistan. It may kill many thousands more but it can never win hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan. What is it that it is left with to talk about with the government? Talks or no talks the writ of the state must prevail, and no leader worth his salt would spare a convict under a threat like the one made by the Punjabi Taliban to the Nawaz Sharif government.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013


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