Taliban's truce offer: Army advises govt to thrash out strategy
[Dawn] Although the army generals will discuss the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain's (TTP) 'peace offers' at a corps commanders' meeting to be held on Friday, they want the politicianship to formulate a response to the cut-thoats' suggestion for a ceasefire.

"It is for the government to decide whether or not to hold dialogue with the cut-thoats. We are continuing with our operations geared towards eliminating terrorism," a senior military officer told Dawn on Wednesday.

He said that although the offer was yet to be fully dissected it could be a tactical move by the cut-thoat outfit given its timing and the conditions that had been set.

"Political leaders should capitalise on the situation," he said and referred to pressure on the terrorist group generated by the army's counter-terrorism operations.

Militant leaders in back-to-back statements sent to the media last week offered a ceasefire if the government 'adopted Shariat after changing the Constitution, revised foreign policy and ended its engagement with the war on terror in Afghanistan'.

TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, while confirming the truce proposal, has refused to disarm.

The army doubts the seriousness of the offers and sees the move as an attempt to ward off pressure, but at the same time it is shying away from rejecting them outright because of apprehensions that it may be criticised for not latching on to the 'offers' by those believing that the truce offer could provide a break in the violence unleashed by the TTP.

The reluctance to take a final decision on the offer partly stems from the past record of peace deals with Taliban, most of which -- Shakai (March 2004), Sararogha (February 2005), Miranshah
... headquarters of al-Qaeda in Pakistain and likely location of Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Haqqani network has established a ministate in centered on the town with courts, tax offices and lots of madrassas...
(September 2006), Khyber (September 2008) and Swat
...a valley and an administrative district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistain, located 99 mi from Islamabad. It is inhabited mostly by Pashto speakers. The place has gone steadily downhill since the days when Babe Ruth was the Sultan of Swat...
(April and May 2008) -- ended in failure.

Except for the two Swat deals, which had some involvement of the ANP, the rest had been directly negotiated by the army.

Other than the poor track record of the peace deals, the dilemma for any (government) negotiator is deciding on the final goal, agenda of the talks and, importantly, whom to negotiate with. The TTP is not a unified entity; it's rather an umbrella organization comprising various cut-thoat groups, the officer said.

The first offer came from Asmatullah Muavia, a cut-thoat coming with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi
... a 'more violent' offshoot of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistain. LeJ's purpose in life is to murder anyone who's not of utmost religious purity, starting with Shiites but including Brelvis, Ahmadis, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Rosicrucians, and just about anyone else you can think of. They are currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of al-Qaeda ...
background and currently operational head of Al Qaeda in Pakistain, while the second one was made by Hakimullah Mehsud.

"Whom should we talk to?," the military officer asked.

It is not new for the army to pass the buck to politicianship. A national consensus appeared to be emerging in October for a decisive push against gunnies after the attack on Malala Yousufzai, but at that time too the military said it was for the politicians to decide about an operation in North Wazoo and all of a sudden the consensus dissipated. A new 'army doctrine' framed in 2011 had identified the warfare being conducted by the TTP and other cut-thoat groups as the biggest threat to national security.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
... four star general, current Chief of Army Staff of the Mighty Pak Army. Kayani is the former Director General of ISI...
had articulated the new doctrine in his well-known independence night speech at Kakul. "No state can afford a parallel system or a cut-thoat force," he said at the premier military training academy.

He also called for clarity on dealing with the threat of terrorism, warning that "otherwise, we'll be divided and taken towards a civil war. Our minds should be clear on this".

The ANP, which lost Bashir Bilour in a suicide kaboom on Dec 22 and has borne the brunt of TTP strikes against secular parties, has cautiously welcomed the talks offer.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik
Pak politician, Interior Minister under the Gilani government. Malik is a former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) intelligence officer who rose to head the FIA during Benazir Bhutto's second tenure. Malik was tossed from his FIA job in 1998 after documenting the breath-taking corruption of the Sharif family. By unhappy coincidence Nawaz Sharif became PM at just that moment and Malik moved to London one step ahead of the button men. He had to give up the interior ministry job because he held dual Brit citizenship.
has shown government's inclination to consider the offer made by Hakimullah.

Posted by: Fred 2013-01-04