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Taliban-Pakistan Talks: What May Go Wrong

Published: 11/03/2014 04:51:03 PM GMT
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Karachi – Though the government and Taliban negotiating committees claim that the “fruits” of the much-hyped peace talks, aimed at cutting a negotiated end to 11-year long insurgency in the country, will surface in “weeks,” political and security analysts cast doubts on the outcome of the year-long talks. “The two sides have diff...(more)

Karachi – Though the government and Taliban negotiating committees claim that the “fruits” of the much-hyped peace talks, aimed at cutting a negotiated end to 11-year long insurgency in the country, will surface in “weeks,” political and security analysts cast doubts on the outcome of the year-long talks.

“The two sides have different agendas and conditions, which do not coincide at any point,” Abdul Khalique Ali, a Karachi-based defense and political analyst, told OnIslam.net.

“This wide gap between the priorities of the two sides shows how difficult and unpredictable this process would be,” Ali said.

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He observes that the fate of the much-eyed negotiations between the government, and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a consortium of different insurgent groups in the country, was simply unpredictable due to various potential obstacles that may break down the entire process sometime.

With each party presenting his demanding on negotiations table, a common word between them seemed far from close achievement.

“The first and foremost (obstacle) will be the TTP’s demand for release of its top-notch commanders, which have been in security forces custody for last various years,” Ali said.

“This will be very difficult for the government and the army to accept this demand because the detained commanders have been involved in several deadly attacks on security forces across the country,” he added.

“The release of these commanders means, a fresh and deadlier spate of attacks against security forces,” Ali opined referring to senior TTP commanders Mehmood Khan, Maulvi Umer, Muslim Khan, and others.

“This could be a make or break point as it is the matter of survival for both sides,” he added.

Another hurdle that may strike a blow to the talks will be the government’s demand for disarmament, Ali observed.

“This will be more than difficult for Taliban leadership to do that as if they (militants) lay down their arms, then their fate will totally be in the hands of security forces, and there is no guarantee how would they (forces) treat them (Taliban),” he said.

“If they surrender their arms, they will be mere lame ducks”.

More Hurdles

According to analysts, yet another impasse would be the government’s demand of Taliban to accept writ of the state.

Taliban’s demand for withdrawal of security forces from their strongholds like South Waziristan, Bajur, and Mohmind, too has the potential to end the process, said Ali, the Karachi-based defense and political analyst.

“Withdrawal of security forces from Taliban’s former strongholds means to give them a fresh lease of life and a golden opportunity to underpin their positions weakened by successive military operations,” he added.

Taliban’s particular views on role of civil society, women, female education, art, culture and other social activities are other obstacles that need to be settled down in the talks.

The ongoing peace talks began on January 29, 2014 with the formation of a four-member government negotiating committee to contact Taliban, however it struck an impasse only two weeks after following two deadly terrorist attacks on security forces in February, 2014.

Though TTP, a mother organization of different Taliban networks in Pakistan, has announced a month-long ceasefire with security forces, 6 attacks have killed around a dozen of security personnel in different parts of the country after the ceasefire announcement.

Dissident Taliban groups, that have refused to accept TTP’s decision to enter in peace talks with the government, claimed the responsibility for the attacks.

What’s New

Despite a tough terrain to go with, there are a few factors that may get the difficult and unpredictable task accomplished, if not fully then partially.

“This is for the first time, the talks are being held under the aegis of a political government with the support of the army,” Ansar Abbasi, an Islamabad-based senior security analyst told OnIslam.net.

“Before that, we would only hear about the happening of talks but did not witness anything on ground,” he added.

He was referring to ten peace accords between the Taliban, and the security forces in last decade, which all were directly dealt by the army.

Only two out of ten peace agreements are intact i.e. with Hafiz Gul Bahadur group, and Mullah Nazir group based in North Wazisriatn and South Waziristan respectively. Both groups have no association with the TTP.

“Contrary to the past, the army and the political government are on the same page with respect to talks with Taliban,” Abbasi said.

“If the two sides (Taliban and government) reach an agreement, it will have the joint backing of the political government and the army,” he added.

Kamal Hyder, another political and security analyst agrees.

“No matter talks appear to be successful or collapsed, the government will achieve certain benefits out of that,” he thought.

The government, he said, has already isolated the Taliban who want to talk from those who do not want to talk.

“This is the biggest achievement that security forces never achieved in the past,” he added.

“Even if talks fail, the army will not have that major opposition to deal with in case of a military onslaught”

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here

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