By S. M. Hali
The All Parties Conference (APC) organized by the current political dispensation at Islamabad, reposed its confidence in the government to take commence dialogue with the miscreants. This is a bold step to bring relief to the people of Pakistan, including civilians and members of the law enforcing agencies (LEAs), who have paid dearly with their lives for the past twelve years. It is the prime responsibility of the elected government to adopt measures to stem the rot and stop the grim reaper—death—from taking a further toll. The essence of democracy stipulates consensus amongst all political parties to endorse a decision empowering the government to engage the perpetrators of terrorism into dialogue while retaining the option of the use of force.
Such an intrepid plan should have been appreciated by the Occident but instead, the plan has targeted with derision. Two articles, appearing in Britain’s leading daily “Daily Telegraph” and USA’s “New York Times”, which may not be representatives of their respective governments, but are reputed to articulate the pulse of 10 Downing Street and Capitol Hill respectively, have expressed dismay and discontent at the outcome of the APC. Rob Crilly, in his “Daily Telegraph” Op-Ed titled: ‘Only in Pakistan Can the Taliban be Described as Stakeholders’, and “New York Times” correspondents Salman Masood & Declan Walsh (declared persona non grata by Pakistan in July 2013), in their piece ‘Pakistan Takes Step Toward Talks With the Taliban’, while remaining oblivious of the sentiments of Pakistanis, have assailed the Government of Pakistan (GOP). The Op-Ed writers, who hail from the champions of democracy, should have showered bouquets rather than brickbats at the GOP for its audacious approach.
Ironically, the barbs and snide comments emanate from the top media of two countries, which led the war on Afghanistan, caused mayhem and bloodshed took a toll of more than a million lives collectively in the Af-Pak theatre of war, have suffered the ignominy of defeat at the hands of the same rag-tag militia, they had set out to teach a lesson following the 9/11 attacks on the twin Towers and Pentagon. Swallowing their pride, Britain and USA are running helter skelter to engage the Taliban in dialogue to obtain a fig leaf for hiding hpw their shame so that they can extricate their troops from Afghanistan. In the bargain, they have been duped by charlatans and pretenders, who have taken their money and run off in the wilderness, leaving them with egg on their face.
Indeed the APC blamed the NATO operations in Afghanistan and the incessant drone attacks causing the reign of terror currently prevalent in Pakistan; however, can the GOP’s detractors deny that the genesis of the problem lies in both the causes mentioned above? Even the UN Secretary General ban Ki Moon has taken cognizance of the use of drone attacks to be in violation of international law and breach of sovereignty of Pakistan—a country touted as an ally and not a target of war.
Our critics have lamented the lack of clarity in the modus operandi of Pakistan’s resolve to talk to the enemy. Would they care to explain, which country lays down all its cards on the table, especially with a dubious and faceless adversary? Even before the process could begin, a Major General, a Lieutenant Colonel and eighty Christians have been surreptitiously targeted in separate attacks. Apparently some forces want to nip the proposed peace talks in the bud.
Turning back a few pages from recent events, we note that, when the PML (N) had announced in its election campaign that it would not refrain from indulging in peace talks with the Tehreek—e—Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the second in command of the outlawed organization, who had welcomed the peace talks, was successfully targeted and eliminated. The focus of the TTP was also shifted to foreigners in Pakistan; miscreants killed ten international mountaineers near Nanga Parbat. These odious attacks coupled with the cynicism on display by sections of the western media depicts that some quarters do not want peace to return to Pakistan. Alleging that one group or the other is a hand maiden of the ISI or suggesting that the Army and the government are not on the same page on the APC implicating that the Army laid down pre-conditions for talks, is a ploy that game spoilers use. Let the people of Pakistan, who have elected their representative parliamentarians in free and fair elections, be the masters of their own fate and decide their destiny.