Talks between government negotiators and the Taliban may have just started, but there is one outcome that is already clear – extremist violence will increase, and more innocent Pakistanis will die because of it.
On Tuesday, 12 people were killed in another bomb blast in Peshawar. TTP have condemned the blast, and Imran Khan immediately termed it as ‘part of a campaign of violence 2 disrupt peace process’.
Grieved over terrible loss of innocent lives in condemnable Peshawar blasts, which r part of a campaign of violence 2 disrupt peace process
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 11, 2014
As usual, the PTI chief did not mention who was behind this supposed campaign, leaving it to the imagination of the readers own prejudices: CIA, RAW, BLA, Black Water, Hindu Zionists, Jews, Shias, Ahmedis…whoever you want to believe, that is who you will believe, regardless of the truth.
This has an important effect: It repositions the Taliban as ‘not the cause of violence’, even though they openly admit to killing tens of thousands of innocent Pakistanis including our soldiers and police. For a brief period, people began to realise that at least some of our problems were coming from these jihadi extremists. That was one step forward. Now, thanks to the government’s gift of ‘peace talks’ and Imran Khan’s obfuscation, we’re taking two steps back by allowing ourselves to be convinced that violence is caused by nameless, faceless ‘anti-Pakistan forces’ – choose your own enemy. At the same time, newspapers and TV talk shows have become a media platform for projecting Taliban views.
While Imran Khan and the media are mainstreaming extremism, though, the government has been legitimising it. Leaving aside debates about the wisdom of peace talks in general, the fact is that the Taliban has come into these talks with the upper hand. They know it, and we know it. That’s why Taliban have given 15 demands, while also warning the government against giving any conditions of their own.
‘Negotiations’ where one side makes demands and the other doesn’t get to make any demands is called ‘surrender’.
And this is exactly what every jihadi group is witnessing: Pakistan’s surrender to Taliban. TTP may have had nothing to do with Tuesday’s bombing in Peshawar, but they also had everything to do with it because TTP has demonstrated that ‘might makes right’ and, in Pakistan, terrorism works.
If TTP can get the government to kneel down and discuss implementing their version of Sharia and giving them control over certain territories, why wouldn’t every other extremist group follow the same path? Lashkar-e-Jhangvi can continue their terrorist attacks until the government agrees change the Constitution to declare Shia as ‘non-Muslim’. BLA can increase attacks against Pakistani forces until the government agrees to give them control over Balochistan. New militant groups can form with the knowledge that the most effective way to get what you want from the government is to kill as many innocent Pakistanis as possible.
Whatever the future holds for the government’s ‘peace talks’ with Taliban, one thing is clear: What the future holds for Pakistan is more terrorist violence.