Fraternising with the enemy

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PTI and all others who support a surrendering of our democratic and constitutional ideals in order to gain a tainted peace, are doing this nation a disservice

In the D I Khan jailbreak on 30th July, 2013, the militants of TTP audaciously walked up to a high security prison in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, freed over 230 prisoners, including 35 high-profile convicts, and simply walked out of the front door, without much resistance, and with a smile on their faces. One of the police personnel who were posted at the jail at the time when TTP attacked the prison was later asked why the law enforcement agencies did not put up a braver fight against the militants. His response was as disappointing as it was honest: he said on the record that firing at the militants would have entailed him losing his life. And since the government seemed bent upon striking a peace deal with the savage terrorists, if not today then tomorrow, he saw no point in laying down his life in a fight and for a cause that was no longer virtuous in the eyes of the people’s representatives.

And this heartfelt confession of a man, who no longer sees purpose and destiny in his job, raises fundamental questions for our counterterrorism strategy: Is the talk of striking a peace deal with the TTP, and its allies, a strategy of deliberation, or is it instead simply a softer way of confessing that the State of Pakistan has lost the war on terror? Can we really allow murderers and savages into the mainstream political dispensation and decision-making process? Have we surrendered to the abominable idea that violence, if conducted for long enough and with impunity, is a winning strategy to bring our state to its knees? Can we really claim to have succeeded in our efforts to counter violence, intolerance and extremism in our society, if our streets and neighborhoods house “offices” of TTP? Or if they have a legitimate a state-sanctified voice in the political and legislative decision-making process? And if so, will we ever be able to look our children, and then their children, in the eye with a clear conscience and honest heart?

And perhaps the most disappointing role, in this regard, has been that of the leader of the party governing KP. Imran Khan, for all his charisma and fan-following, has simply lost the plot when it comes to calling the enemy by its name. The electoral rhetoric of negotiating with TTP and striking a peace deal in a war that, according to Mr Khan, is not our war at all, has started to fade behind a thick coating of innocent blood. Despite rhetoric of negotiations and peace, there is no defence – none whatsoever – for Mr Khan to rationalise or justify the attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar, claiming the lives of 85 people, under the control of PTI government, by a group of individuals that Mr Khan wants to earnestly negotiate and settle a peace accord with.

The Federal Government of PML-N, despite its historic roots in and reverence for the conservative alliances of Zia’s era, has been less eager than Mr Khan’s PTI to negotiate with the TTP. The prime minister, after the All Party Conference, announced an almost unanimous decision to conduct peace talks with the banned outfits, within the contours of the decisions made in the APC, and in fidelity to the principles enshrined in the Constitution. However, these peace talks – almost expectedly – seem to have crumbled in the face of TTP’s relentlessness to adhere to their demand of implementing and following the strictest (read: conservative) interpretation of Sharia laws above the dictates and spirit of our constitution, as well as their continued strategy of violence against the armed forces in the tribal areas. And thankfully, the government, along with the army, is insisting that for any negotiation to take place the violence must cease immediately, and that under no circumstances can the constitution be overridden by a conservative religious ideology.

Sadly, however, from the murmurs emanating from KP, it seems that the PTI leadership would be willing to surrender to virtually all demands of TTP, including imposition of Sharia law, in a (thoroughly ill-advised) bid to strike peace with the enemy.

What has gone wrong with the PTI leadership, in regards to dealing with the scourge of extremism, is beyond comprehension. I must confess that I supported the PTI campaign to power for the idealism and liberal philosophy (in part) that it advocated. But somewhere, in the past few months of governance, the wheels seem to have come off in PTI’s security policy think-tank. The murderers of thousands of innocent Pakistanis, from Karachi to Peshawar, cannot be met with appeasement, but with the strength and might of our force. They cannot be surrendered to, but conquered instead. It must be declared today, and for all times to come, that violence in this country – especially in the name of religion – will never be met with a peace-flag. That we, as a country and as a nation, will not be held hostage by pangs of terror.

How Pakistan counters extremism and violence, over the coming decade, will determine the eventual destiny of our nation. And in this regard, PTI, and all others who support a surrendering of our democratic and constitutional ideals in order to gain a tainted peace, are doing this nation a disservice.

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. He has a Masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School. He can be reached at: [email protected], or Twitter: @Ch_SaadRasool

5 COMMENTS

  1. mr saad i really appreciate your great efforts to draw a comprehensive and analytical picture of pti ‘s leader about his political immaturity.

  2. The people of Pakistan r confused because in the effort of change the always find the worst parasite,and in the case of PTI a coward of the coward one!

  3. A very narrow minded Punjabi elitist view of the problem. People who have nothing to do with KPK should avoid their useless, irrelevant comments on subject matters vastly out of their depth. And yes read a bit of history of other countries who have been struck by militancies and the solutions that have worked. Moronic article as always.

  4. Seriously? You blame present players who are thinking outside the typical box for the doings of previous governments? You hate America for the wars it imposes on the world and our leaders who search for peace?? You sir are an imbecile wrapped in cocoon of stupidity.

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