Il­lu­sions of peace

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL -

Fe­bru­ary 28. The con­vener, this time round, was the re­doubtable leader of the JUI-F, Maulana Fa­zlur Rehman. While the meet­ing was still in ses­sion, it was busi­ness as usual for the TTP. Four schools in Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa were bombed to smithereens that day. This act, ex­e­cuted with the ruth­less pre­ci­sion of the Gestapo, brought the num­ber of ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions de­stroyed by the out­fit since 2007 to more than eight hun­dred. The grue­some pat­tern of vi­o­lence was in ev­i­dence again on the con­clu­sion of a sim­i­larly ill-ad­vised multi-party meet­ing held ex­actly two weeks ear­lier by the Awami Na­tional Party (ANP). The out­come was a set of vague pro­pos­als in which the word ‘ter­ror­ism’ fea­tured only once, and that too in the con­text of com­pen­sat­ing fam­ily mem­bers of ter­ror­ism vic­tims. But even this was con­temp­tu­ously re­jected by the TTP, which im­me­di­ately tar­geted the Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa chief min­is­ter in a failed sui­cide bomb at­tack.

In De­cem­ber, im­me­di­ately af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion of Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa se­nior min­is­ter Bashir Ah­mad Bilour, it seemed that the ANP had re­solved to roll up its sleeves and take on the TTP. A state­ment was is­sued boldly af­firm­ing that “ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ist vi­o­lence is a threat to the very ex­is­tence of the coun­try...it will be an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity to ap­pease the ter­ror­ists.” But the en­thu­si­asm faded rapidly, as was ev­i­dent from the for­mu­la­tion in the fi­nal com­mu­nique is­sued by the APC con­vened by the party on Fe­bru­ary 14.

The sub­se­quent Fa­zlur Rehman-or­gan­ised con­fer­ence, at­tended by all po­lit­i­cal par­ties ex­cept Im­ran Khan’s Pak­istan Tehreek-In­saf, con­jured up a five-point dec­la­ra­tion. Its cen­tral fea­ture was the ex­pan­sion of an ex­ist­ing JUI-F-spon­sored tribal as­sem­bly into a Grand Jirga for ne­go­ti­a­tions with the TTP. Maulana Fa­zlur Rehman was ju­bi­lant. His pur­pose had been achieved. He tri­umphantly told the me­dia that he had been vin­di­cated be­cause his party’s tribal jirga had mor­phed into a broad-based na­tional fo­rum. What he did not say was that this plat­form would serve the JUI-F well in its ob­jec­tive of emerg­ing as the dom­i­nant po­lit­i­cal force in the Fed­er­ally Ad­min­is­tered Tribal Ar­eas prior to the coming elec­tions.

The fi­nal com­mu­nique scrupu­lously avoids the use of words such as ‘ter­ror­ism’ or ‘mil­i­tancy’, and nei­ther does the term ‘mil­i­tant’ ap­pear in the text. The doc­u­ment goes even fur­ther and ac­cepts the TTP as one of the ma­jor ‘stake­hold­ers’ that should have a role in de­ter­min­ing the fu­ture course of events in the coun­try. This was glee­fully ac­knowl­edged by the TTP spokesman, Eh­san­ul­lah Ehsan, who said: “Our po­lit­i­cal shura held a meet­ing and wel­comed the sum­mit of all po­lit­i­cal par­ties re­gard­ing talks with the Tal­iban. The po­lit­i­cal par­ties, by avoid­ing the word ‘ter­ror­ism’ in their joint state­ment, gave a pos­i­tive sig­nal.”

What the TTP can­not be faulted for is a lack of re­al­ism. In the same state­ment, Eh­san­ul­lah Ehsan vir­tu­ally brushed aside the

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