TTP peace talks: Tips for success


How the terrorists can be won over

Luavut Zahid

A lot of hoopla has been going on these days about talks with the Taliban. We have our right-winged PML-N run by the Sharif brothers that’s been vying to talk to more than just the Taliban’s proverbial hand. And then there’s the other right-winged PTI run by Khan and his hooligans looking for more or less the same end result. But of course with all this talk about talks no one is talking about what’s really important: what on earth we will do if the Taliban actually agree to talks.

1. Don’t take no for an answer

It’s an age old story, but one with a terrorist twist. First terrorist group goes around blowing people and places up to get political party’s attention. Then political party tries to chat up the terrorist organisation and fails. Of course the terrorist group i.e., the Taliban are taking their sweet time coming around, after all who doesn’t like to play hard to get. However, for peace talks to succeed the key is to never take no for an answer. In the past each time it seemed like our damsel was about to come around a bomb went off and lots of people died. But perseverance is the main ingredient to a successful love story – and persevere both Sharif and Khan can indeed.

2. The female factor

Khan’s charisma and Sharif’s love of nihari make them a one of a kind peace talks propagating tag team. However, when it comes to the Taliban it seems like the best course of action for either party to take would be to designate a delegation of women for the talks. Now before your juvenile minds run off with that idea, let me explain. On average women speak around 5,000 words a day, while men speak only about 2,000. If women are the ones doing the talking from our side then we will be able to get so much more out of the talks. The Taliban would love this idea, too. Although popular narrative tells us that the Taliban hate women and want them holed up inside their houses, reality could not be further from the truth. On countless occasions women have been empowered to step up to the suicidal-attack plate and walk in the same shoes as their brave 72-virgin hogging counterparts.

3. The cuisine is key

The kind of food served at the talks is going to be very important. If our leaders serve the wrong thing we might upset the guests of honour, and we all know what happens when the TTP gets upset. It is important to ensure that the food being served is not too heavy on the stomach. In fact avoiding heavy food would be best as it would mean no lethargy, sleepiness, and hence no disruptions in the talks. The ideal situation would involve coffee with a few snacks and treats. Our leaders must remember that most members of the Taliban stay in hiding so they aren’t used to gourmet food; picking out dishes that are easy on the stomach will go a long way in earning their trust and making the date an overall success.

4. The right setting

Many kids these days go, “bachi phasanay ke liye mahol hona chahiye hai”. Well, the TTP isn’t all that different. The setting will be one of the most important factors for the talks to succeed. If our leaders pick the wrong place then it won’t take long for things to go sour and the entire debacle to, quite literally, blow up in everyone’s face. Beware that the TTP are a band of social misfits and they don’t get out that often so picking out a crowded restaurant full of people is something that should be avoided. It would just make them uncomfortable (and additionally, they might see it as a better opportunity to explode something instead of discussing peace). It would be best for our leaders to find a place that’s both quiet but comfy. For the best results: a cozy place which reminds them of home, far away from populated areas in main city centres.

5. Leave their guns alone

Also their bombs. Suicide jackets. Rocket launchers. Let’s just say that leaving them alone completely when it comes to destructive devices is a good idea. The main focus has to remain on making them feel comfortable. So it would be a good idea to let it slide if they bring an AK-47 or two along. And we should be honest here, it’s not like our leaders can do much to ensure that they don’t bring such objects to the little coffee date with them. Angering them over their little explosive toys might not end well for the people in the vicinity so leaving them alone is objectively the only, and best, course to take.

6. Praise them constantly

The TTP have shown the kind of organised efficiency that our leaders can only hope to achieve within the domain of the current civil government. It would be best if we were to ask them their secrets to success and learn from their great ways. It would be silly not to admire the work they have done so far. For every handful of Taliban killed through a drone strike (which isn’t even powered by the Pakistani government) the TTP turn around and kill thousands upon thousands of Pakistanis. That level of dedication and result oriented thinking is something that has been missing from the Pakistani society for years. Therefore, it is highly advised that a large portion of the talks be spent outlining what a great job the TTP have been doing, and also learning from their experiences.

7. Avoid the D word

No Taliban wants the D i.e., drone. While it is no secret that drones don’t come anywhere close to the level and mastery that is possessed by the Taliban, they do manage to strike a blow to TTP sentiments. Historically, drones have managed to kill a leader or two and at present they are loathed by the Taliban. Just as soon as the prospects of peace talks are considered by elected leaders from Pakistan, the Taliban get bored. This is largely because said leaders are too slow which results in the TTP helping a few things explode through some fancy fireworks. When a drone strike takes place those fireworks have to stop, and the TTP hate nothing more than being forced to stop their fun.

No kind of talks or discussions succeed unless one goes in with a confident head on their shoulders. These are just a few tips on how to get the most out of talks with the TTP. However, the most important thing that our leaders need to remember is to believe in themselves. Mountains can be moved if one believes, of course. Oh and coincidently the TTP like living in caves and things, too.

Luavut Zahid is a journalist based in Lahore. Her writings focus on current affairs and crisis response. She can be reached at [email protected], she tweets @luavut.


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