Sherpao urges talks to curb militancy

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ISLAMABAD – PPP-S chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, who is part of Track-II peace initiative in Afghanistan, on Thursday asked the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to revisit the policy vis-a-vis terrorism and launch a dialogue process with militants as military operation alone would not yield the desired results.
In an exclusive interview with Pakistan Today, Sherpao said that the security forces conducted three successive military operations in the past few years in Bajaur, Swat and Malakand division but the desired results could not be achieved as the government failed in launching a dialogue process with the militants due to which the fruits of the operation were going down the drain.
He said the international community did not support the rehabilitation process due to which the militants were regaining control of areas cleared by the army. “After a successful operation, the control has to be handed over to the civil administration so that the affected people could be rehabilitated. The prime minister and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister’s claim that talks could only be held with those militants who lay down their arms. This is a joke because if someone has already laid down arms, why does the government need to hold talks with them?”
“Talks always aim at give some and take some and if you offer something in advance, there is no room for talks. I know that the prime minister can’t understand the Pakhtun culture but the chief minister of KP is a Pakhtun. I wonder why he doesn’t understand that a Pakhtun would never lay down arms without talks,” he argued.
Sherpao said there was no writ of the government in most parts of KP but “Swat and Malakand are a bit peaceful due to the army’s presence”. However, he said, once the army left these areas, militants would again take over as no civilian administrative setup existed in the area.
“Bajaur was cleared twice by the army but since no reconciliatory process was launched to substantiate the peace efforts, peace could not be restored and the affected people are still residing in the camps. I think the government should form a peace commission on the lines of the Afghan Peace Council, taking on board the Maliks, heads of lashkars and other tribal elders, so that there is a civilian body to look after the peace process as a stakeholder after evacuation of armed forces,” he said.
He said that due to the government’s failure in taking along the civilians, militants were targeting the heads of lashkars one by one. The PPP-S chief said the government was not supporting the lashkars who were in the forefront of the war against terrorism and “if they are not backed by the world community, all the fruits of the initiative will be lost”. He said the government’s writ was eroding even in and around Peshawar city and the militants’ writ was expanding by the each passing day.
“Though the prime minister time and again talks about the 3Ds policy of his government, there is no framework for holding talks with the militants. I wonder sooner than later the government should start a peace process with the civilian government calling all the shots as mere operations can’t deliver.”