Negotiations with an Extremist Islamist Group: A Possibility or a Fantasy?
Following all the pre-election and post-election hype, protests and disagreements surrounding the Pakistan 2013 Elections, the government now wants to enter negotiations for peace with the extremist Islamist group TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban). As ironic as it is, a PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) party member even went so far as to call them citizens of Pakistan. Let’s not forget that the TTP has killed thousands of innocent citizens of Pakistan. People are afraid for their lives, in a country that vowed to protect them.
The TTP has an extremist interpretation of Sharia law, and it wants to apply that to Pakistan. It is responsible for many other atrocities that, while justified by Islam, cannot be tolerated in a civilized society. There is no doubt that the majority of citizens in Pakistan are Muslim, but most are moderate and liberal minded; they want peace and do not subscribe to any Sharia law that is against the basic rights of humanity.
Talks and negotiations have been tried, and failed due to the rigidity of TTP’s demands, and the group seems content not to budge on them. TTP members preach that they will keep killing innocent citizens of Pakistan until their demands are met and they take Pakistan under their own control. But if Pakistan is to accept their demands then it is a slap to the very core of Jinnah’s Pakistan: a free state where everyone has equal rights and safety to live. It also dishonours the thousands of martyrs in the Pakistani Army who lay down their lives to protect citizens from these extremists.
Since the TTP is against education for girls, believing in the oppression of women, what can you expect in a Pakistan or a part of Pakistan under their control? A community moving backwards to a barbaric time. Talks are not a way to go forward with a group whose demands put the sovereignty of the nation of Pakistan under threat. If a small scale operation like the Lal Masjid Operation can be put into action to curb extremists from harming the country and civilians, then it is tempting to think that a large scale operation consisting the full force of the Pakistani army, navy, and air force could solve the problem of this extremist Islamist group whose agenda is to send suicide bombs to packed markets and public places with the intent to kill. But that of course risks injuring innocents and martyring the TTP, encouraging yet more people to commit violence.
The frustration of seeking a solution remains, but in my view negotiations are going to be fruitless with people who believe in values that degrade humanity in the name of Islam, and this latest attempt by the Pakistan government will shortly prove to be a fantasy.