Pakistan – Taliban Peace Talks: Can We Make Sense Out of Nonsense?

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TaharakTalibanPakistanDr. Mahboob A. Khawaja

[Taharak Taliban aka Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.]

[Editor’s preface. The Taliban were nurtured by the Pakistani intellegence agency – ISI – partially at the behest of the CIA – as part of the US proxy war with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The ISI even assisted the Taliban to leadership of Afghanistan following the Soviet attempt to conrol the country. Having given support and protection to the Taliban for decades, it is little wonder that the Taliban may be “upset” about the Pakistani government allowing US drones to go on kill missions over Pakistani (and Talibani) territory. This history of sham and artifice provides part of the backdrop for the questioned sincerity and credibility of “peace talks” between TTP and Pakistan.]

Reports of secretive peace talks between PM Nawaz Sharif Government and Taharak Taliban Pakistan (TTP, aka Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) groups overflow the media headlines, but hardly tell the truth full of hatred and fear of the unknown. Both represent willing suspension of disbelief that talks could render peace which none have the capacity and scope to offer.  A publicly disconnected and disoriented governance under Nawaz Sharif has failed its promise to stop the US drone killing of civilians, and now undertakes another political blunder in talking to the Taliban. After political fanfare, Sharif appeared vulnerable to a credibility gimmick given his lingering past corruption and missing leadership. Talibans are ruthless divergent  groups of unknown changing loyalties to all directions of the political and economic spectrum for their interests and survival.

Who will stand on a solid ground for the reality check? There is no formal agenda for talks, no publicly engaged representatives directly at the table and no peace talks as such. There is only rudimentary symbolic gestures carved out of the nowhere to ensure mutual distrust, and time killing exercises to protect the personal interests of a few warlords on both sides of the  aisle. Pakistani Taliban (as media calls them) owe their superfluous existence to the emergence of Taliban movement in Afghanistan that previously fought against the occupation of the former Soviet Union, and now fight against the US led NATO occupation of Afghanistan. The goal is to free Afghanistan from US influence, and return to an Islamic State of Afghanistan. The Taliban’s divergent strategic aims have impacted the whole of Pakistan. The key rests with the US and its military priorities and future presence in the region.

The present Government under Nawaz Sharif and the Taharak Taliban (TTP) have lot in common as they interact in a theatre of absurdities, intrigues and backdoor conspiracies as if they hold credibility in public perceptions. There is no timeframe and no visible indicators who among the Taliban will surrender the guns and bullets in return for peacemaking and a presence at the ballot box. Such talks were a failure before and they are irrelevant in the contemporary global affairs to produce any recognizable legitimacy. Pakistani Taliban are not a political entity formed or shaped under known credible leadership, but are an outcome of transitory political climate linked to the belligerent affairs, overwhelming deaths and destruction in Afghanistan, and onward to Pakistani towns. This week, Taliban are reported to have committed cold blooded massacre of 24 Pakistani soldiers in North Waziristan, The senior army commanders are outraged whether to oust Sharif for doing nothing or to take their own revenge on the “rughead” Taliban. Nobody can speculate how peace – if at all it is “peace”- can ultimately grow out of the nowhere.

Nawaz Sharif has formidable problems of political integrity and intellectual leadership capacity, and he was never a credible factor to contribute anything positive to the collective good of Pakistan. More precisely, he is a discredited businessman who twice previously stole time and opportunities from the life of the nation to groom himself in national politics. Sharif being an outgrowth of the neo-colonial military regime, wanted an outlet to portray peace talks as a strategic change for his last job as PM.  He was twice dismissed as Prime Minister on corruption charges. In 1999, General Musharaf tried him on “terrorism” conspiracy of hijacking a PIA plane and wanting to kill all the passengers and sent him to ten years of exile to Saudi Arabia. For almost half of a century all Pakistani politicians have entered the reign of power through backdoor conspiracies and military coups and killings of the fellow countrymen. The tragic history tells its own narrative.

Pakistan lives in self-inflicted turmoil of political and military intrigues – all deceiving all – all trying to gain their footing in power either by attracting foreign interventions or creating catastrophic political up hazards to dismantle the fabric of the originally Muslim nation. The stage actors want power and use it as a divine right of absolutism against the interests of the forgotten masses. Public interest was never a core thrust of the political governance in Pakistan except as a shadowy window to patronize few sadistic monsters who desired to play with the lives and values of the people.

Taliban are not a legitimate political entity in Pakistani politics as their aims and guidance originate from the embattled Afghanistan landscape. Their secretive recruits hide their faces while perpetuating violence as means to sustain their identity. Their standing in public image is hardly of any appreciable strength in moral and religious values. They are known to have extortion schemes, drug trade and killing innocents in major cities across Pakistan. How could such questionable groups ever negotiate peace making deals?  Is Sharif trying to imagine a new framework of political governance to suit his beleaguered powerbase?  No matter how the talks progress, TTP are a continuing threat to civic, moral and intellectual consciousness of informed Pakistanis. They lack a sense of moral and political accountability and are not a rationally organized construct of systematic politics. Their claims of Islamic “Shariaha” hardly corresponds to the genesis of Islam and its real world functional apparatus. They would claim, take our “Shariaha” or leave it to tribal guns and homemade bullets.

Alarming rates of domestic and foreign generated bloody conflicts – such as the “war on terrorism” – have sucked up the resources of the poverty stricken nation for change and development goals. The 21st century emerging nations pitch in new ideas and ideals to encourage and support the educated, intelligent and talented people to compete for elections and to hold offices of national leadership responsibility. Pakistanis are not so lucky to have such opportunities and leaders, and are living with competing values of moral and intellectual responsibility. The contemporary world does not appear to have so many failed and treacherous leadership role models as does Pakistan, with a set model of treason and wholesale sell out of the primary interests of the nation to foreign masters.

The Western media headlines and propaganda campaigns skillfully hide that Pakistani government is a camouflage state of liars and being run by those who are conveniently available at the global market for cash payments. Pakistani rulers and their behavior typifies what can go wrong when leadership is indoctrinated and barricaded by the deliberate evolution of corruption, dishonesty and treason; embracing a culture of convenient nepotism, looting, gangsterism and killing  as a political tools to manage the military run politics of Pakistan. Consequently, the world is adding insult to pains and injuries of the morally and intellectually conscientious Pakistanis.

Disillusioned and disconnected with its roots, Pakistan continues to move forward – not towards change, normalcy and progress – but towards tragic events fomenting planned deaths of the citizenry, destruction of the social, economic and political infrastructures, incapacitated and broken lifelines and ultimately to become a battle ground for mindless ethnic and regional divides and national collapse. TTP is one of the factors in these imposed cruelties on the masses. If these trends resulting from the inhuman and barbaric policies and practices of the ruling elite remain in the pipeline, the nation could end-up losing its freedom and integrity.  You might wonder, “Is the problem insolvable?”

Taharak-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) claim adherence to one-way code insisting on the promulgation of “Sahariah” as system of politics, of which they have no knowledge-based understanding or commitment except emotional outbursts and delusional perceptions of Islamic precepts and practices. Islamic faith does not embody systematic brutality against innocent people and it cannot sanction individualistic absolutism against the collective interests of the Ummah. The Taliban groups failed miserably to capture Islam as a force of moral and intellectual persuasion to spearhead change and reformation (“islaha”) in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Naïve jihad and violence tell the real Taliban narrative of life and struggle to forge presence in Pakistan.

The Taliban appear to be a collection of rogue and lose groupings of many associations and liabilities. Some could well be doing the proxy wars on behalf of the foreign master chipping-in cash dollars and obsolete weapons left-over across the old Afghan graveyards. Their physical presence could signal the changing outlook for more disasters to create ripple effects in Pakistani politics. Mr. Sharif and the Pakistani intelligence networks are not competent and have no clue how to manage the hidden conspiracies of the few against many impinging on the public nerve for a decade.

The peace talk drama continues behind closed doors and the nation is targeted daily while the innocent continued to be massacred unabated as if Taliban and some fake forces of vindictiveness are determined to undermine the freedom and integrity of the nation.

Pakistan’s major problem rests with domestic power politics. Those who grab the power through intrigues, political conspiracies, military coups, sectarian killings and large social-economic disruptions as is the on-going Pakistani elite supported and American-British led bogus War on Terror, would never cease to act or see an end to their hegemonic power control. For almost half of a century, Pakistani politics has been populated with military dictators and their few created and installed feudal lord families of the British colonial time- Bhuttos, Sharfis, Zardaris, and of course, some of the military Generals themselves – the chief instigators of individualistic governance and national decline. These are household names of hatred and disgrace to the thinking Pakistanis. The Nation that allows the criminally indicted and most corrupt people to hold offices of national governance and responsibility cannot be viewed as Nation of moral values and honor.

The nation appears at a moral and intellectual crossroads. Persistent corruption has darkened the hopes of the thinking people. Even some of the most educated and intelligent ones cannot THINK out of the box. Whereas, able and educated Pakistanis look for escape from reality and are rushing to migrate to foreign lands. Consequently, Pakistan is run by ignorant, corrupt and cruel people who have nothing common in thoughts and values with the aspiring masses.

Pakistan is being destabilized and dehumanized by its own wicked so called leaders who lack understanding of the ideology of the Muslim nation.  The culture, intellect and values these military and political elite follow are foreign to the genius of the people of Pakistan. Pakistan appears to have its ennobling enemies within itself and daily death tolls and societal destruction provide ample data to document the growing despotism and politically geared domestic madness undoing the foundation of Pakistan’s existence.

Pakistan’s future is not linked to Nawaz Sharif or peace talks with the TTP. The Government and the Taliban are buying time and opportunities to readjust to the changing geo-political climate of the region. America is set to withdraw its NATO led forces in few months. Pakistani officials and the TTP would hurry to fill-in the gap and to acquire upper hand in future strategic priorities. Pakistan security forces are relentlessly watching which way to turn the table and to counteract the tide of bloody insurgency dipping into the political psyche of Pakistani culture. Unless the Thinking Hub of the Pakistani Freedom Movement and Foundational Values reactivate their thoughts and energies for a navigational change, for the nation is at critical crossroads due to its own fragmentation and by its own so called monstrous political leaders.

How can there be a change of the political cruelty of the Tyranny of the Few into a new value-based political system of institutions, responsible leadership and governance?  Pakistan desperately needs educated and proactive people of new vision, new ideas and political imagination to safeguard the freedom of the nation from ultimate chaos and ruins. Those who are part of the problems cannot be part of the solutions.

Taliban are constantly moving tribal caravans with no sense of harmony and political persuasion in talks and behaviors. Sharif has extended an undeserving label of political recognition to the TTP for which it had no political capacity to operate in conventional wisdom. It is hard to imagine that such divergent people of divided consciousness of their own role and values could be mindful of the impetus of peace process and negotiation to bridge the widening gaps in thinking and practices for stability and the security of the people of Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif has no vision of the future or leadership role to help Pakistan as the daily bloodbath continues under one or another media headlines; nobody can predict how these unknown and halfhearted talks will change the political landscape for peace when the Nation’s own future is at stake.


Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012.


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