A two-pronged approach
EVIDENTLY the ‘neutral’ tribesmen’s resolve to take up arms against the Taliban is paying dividends. If this were not the case, the Taliban supporters among the politicians would not have spoken so vehemently against what to them is a spontaneous and indigenous movement that poses a serious threat to the militants. Latest reports say the Mamoond tribesmen are ‘desperately trying’ to seek peace with the security forces. The Mamoond sub-district in Bajaur Agency is a major Taliban stronghold and some of the leading militant chiefs, including Taliban deputy chief Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, belong to this area. The Mamoonds’ decision to approach the authorities for peace talks comes in the wake of the pounding the militants’ strongholds received from the security forces. No wonder, as a report from Peshawar informs us, even the Taliban have agreed to let the Mamoond elders talk to the government. The authorities have made it abundantly clear that they will talk to the militants only after they lay down arms.
There are several reasons why the situation appears a little less bleak these days. The Taliban have overreached themselves. They overestimated their strength and forgot that no government worth its salt could indefinitely ignore a rebellion of such proportions. They even set up a parallel government and ran their own judicial system. Worse for them, in their zeal to prove their power of mischief, they failed to distinguish between military and civilian targets and carried out bomb blasts which killed more civilians than soldiers. Some of their crimes that sent a wave of repugnance against these self-proclaimed champions of Islam included the bombing of Eid congregations, peace jirgas, at least one funeral procession and school buses. The tribesmen have reacted with justified anger because the fighting has turned their territory into a war zone, dislocating their means of livelihood and making thousands of people homeless.
With the army now relieved of its political baggage, one can expect undivided attention to the pursuit of the war against militancy. The security operations must continue for the time being but the government should never give up dialogue as an option and talk from a position of strength to those who lay down arms. At the same time, the tribal belt’s economic development must be carried out with speed to undo the effects of the war and plan for the future so as to give the tribesmen a stake in peace. (Dawn)
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Sunday, 26 October 2008
Zardari & Kayani are real benefactors of Pakistan: Their strategy on war on terror is working much better than the double-cross strategy of Mush...
A two-pronged approach