Pakistan: Pakistani press reported today, “Authoritative sources have told the government clearly there is no space left for holding talks with the militants after the attacks carried out by militants against senior army officials and against religious minorities. “
“This is because instead of giving a positive response to the talks offer, the militants have considered it as their success and as Pakistan’s weakness. The prime minister and the federal interior minister have been told to once again contact those politicians, who were present in the All Parties Conference, in order to hold consultations with them on this new situation. The offer of talks should be officially withdrawn and permission should be given for carrying out operation against the terrorists.”
Comment: A thoughtful BBC appreciation argued that the government of Nawaz Sharif is failing already because of unrelieved economic problems, corruption, law and order issues and the rejection of talks by the Pakistani Taliban.
That sweeping judgment might be premature, but as to negotiating peace with the Pakistani Taliban, it is on the mark. The Pakistani Taliban response to government overtures has been a surge in attacks, bombings and murders. They include the bomb attack that killed a Pakistani major general Niazi in Dir district on 15 September and the Christian church bombing in Peshawar on 22 September.
The Nawaz Sharif government has been slow to recognize and accept this policy failure and has sought an excuse to justify a change in policy. The brief report above is crafted to represent a request from field authorities at the province level and below to which the federal government can consent.
With respect to the Pakistani Taliban, Nawaz Sharif campaigned to end the terrorism by trying negotiations. He tried and the response was more energetic attacks. The item above accurately reflects the view that offers of talks signify weakness and invite greater aggression. That has been the cycle in Pakistan for many years.
A war weary Pakistani population requires occasional reminders that the Pakistani Taliban want no part of peace talks because they interpret them as a sign they are winning the struggle to install an emirate in Islamabad. Last week Chief of Army Staff General Kayani said, “it is understandable to give peace a chance through a political process, but no one should have any misgivings that we would let terrorists coerce us into accepting their terms.”
The Pakistan Army will avenge the death of General Niazi with or without Sharif’s permission.