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Friday 6 February 2009

Dialogue with Taliban not an option - Farhat Taj

Dialogue with Taliban not an option

Friday, February 06, 2009
by Farhat Taj

I wanted a reply to my email from Masooda Bano to have a better idea of her argument for dialogue with Taliban. She provided the idea through her article dated 31 January and I am afraid that she fails to see my point – and also seems to be quite ignorant of the ground reality in Pakhtun areas.

Of course, this is not to say that outsiders do not have a right to express their views. But this shouldn’t be at the expense of the truth and shouldn’t mean a distortion of reality. What we need right now is not only informed debate but also debate that is responsible and objective because anything otherwise has the potential to mislead public opinion. Hence, my advice is to people to visit these areas themselves and see for themselves what the reality is – and this is essential particularly for those who want to write on the the region.

My main point – which was that why should the government negotiate with a party that clearly has no respect for the law of the land, Islam or the code of Pakhtunwali and which has repeatedly violated all three in the most brutal manner? – was not responded to at all.

How can one possibly have a dialogue with a person who believes that Shias must be killed and who has actually killed many Shias? How can one negotiate with someone who enjoys beheading people, and has beheaded people — like the Swat Taliban who every day announce on their FM radio the names of all those that they behead?

Also I never suggested that the military operation should be aimless. It should be targeted and based on actionable intelligence. I ask this in respect to the wishes of thousands of Pakhtun with whom I interact in person or through emails and phone calls. The fact of the matter is that the intelligence is there but it isn’t – or wasn’t – being acted upon. Also, I never said that the identities of the Taliban groups and their leaders are unclear. What I did say though was that the groups are too many and their demands too outrageous for any government to accept.

Secondly, dialogue and peace deals with Taliban have been a recipe for disaster for the Pakhtuns. Take for example, the peace deals that were signed with the Taliban in North Waziristan. Despite their existence, killings are happening there, women are barred from applying for CNIC cards, female education and music are banned, and the entire tribal leadership has been killed or made to flee from the area. Furthermore, safe passage is provided often to sectarian terrorists to Kurram and Orakzai agencies and we all know what has been happening there.
Journalists who have observed the negotiations and deals claim that usually there are two agreements – one written, the other verbal. The written agreement, if implemented, would in fact restore the writ of the government. The verbal version however is that both sides agree not to disturb the other which means that the Taliban can in fact do as they please as long as they don’t target the security forces. Unfortunately, it is the verbal one that is usually implemented.

Moreover, the Musharraf government was playing a double game, i.e. it joined the US led war on terror and on other hand it allowed the Taliban to consolidate its power. As a result some of them went out of state control. What is happening between some Taliban groups and the state is a power game where one side wants to enforce the law of the country and the other wants to replace Pakhtunwali with a Wahhabi way of life. Take for example, Baitullah Mehsud. He believes he has conquered and become ruler of South Waziristan and has put in place courts, a system of taxation and many other things that one would normally see as part of an organized government. And hence one would have to be very naïve to think that he would give all this up now as part of a dialogue process.

How many conquerors in the past have surrendered their territories through dialogue, especially when they believed that they were in a more powerful position? Most Pakhtuns believe that Baitullah will never surrender South Waziristan unless his power is weakened or broken and it is re-taken by force by the state and its army. Most Pakhtun also believe – as do probably most other Pakistanis – that the state army is far more powerful than Baitullah’s and can defeat the latter especially when the people of Waziristan are also not happy with the Taliban.

In my view it is the less-informed analysts who are pushing for dialogue with the Taliban – the ordinary Pakhtun are most certainly not in favour of this.
I may be criticized for this but I will also say that it is the less-informed analysts who seem to be making the same mistakes that contributed to the disasters of our past. Before the fall of East Pakistan, many non-Bengali analysts in the media were saying that soon the situation would be controlled and we know what happened then. I should also point out that I have come across many nationalist Pakhtuns who are so frustrated and angered that they would rather deal with the Taliban on their own or wouldn’t mind allying with other entities which display less of a reluctance to deal with this scourge head on.

I would therefore humbly request the army chief to ignore the calls for dialogue with the Taliban and initiate surgical and targeted operations, in line with the wishes of the terrorised people of NWFP and FATA, to eliminate the Taliban and destroy their headquarters and hideouts.

The writer is a research fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, University of Oslo, and a member of Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy. Email: bergen34@yahoo.com (The News)

Also read:

A resident of Swat writes: What the people of Swat really wanted

An analysis of drone / missile attacks on Al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in Pakistan's tribal areas. March-Nov 2008... Dawn, BBC, Daily Times Reports

Farhat Taj: A survey of Drone Attacks in Pakistan. What do the people of FATA think?


paki said...

What Mr Farhat doesn't know is the fact,Suicide Bombings and disturbance in FATA and NWFP started after USA bombarded a madressah in Bajaud in 2004 and unfortuantely then President MR Mush lied by saying it was done by Paki Military.
It seems MR Farhat doesn't watch TV.he had better go to all refugee camps in Peshawer who would brief about the ground realities of the area.According to these refugees,they were forced to leave their houses because of Military Operation.
people in these areas are confused;They are afarid of both Taliban and Army and they exactly don't know what games are being played.Like most of pakistanis,common masses in FATA and Sawat are neither with Taliban nor with Pak Army and Government.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Paki She (Farhat Taj ) is absolutely correct.

Anonymous said...

Dear Paki

According to you ---- “the fact,Suicide Bombings and disturbance in FATA and NWFP started after USA bombarded a madressah in Bajaud in 2004 and unfortuantely then President MR Mush lied by saying it was done by Paki Military.”---- I failed to understand why people like you try to distort the facts.
First of all madressah of Moulvi Liaquat (brother of Mullah Fazalullah of Swat) which was actually headquarter of TNSM was destroyed in 2006 not in 2004!!! For details (http://www.dawn.com/2006/10/31/top1.htm).
Dear Paki, first suicide attack was occurred in 1995 in Islamabad when suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into the Egyptian embassy. There were also some suicide attacks in 2002 including attack on American consulate in Karachi and another on French engineers in front of Sheraton Hotel Karachi.
Therefore, you are requested to not to distort facts and defend Tehrik-e-Terrorists of Pakistan (TTP) like your party leader clean-shaven Moulvi Imran Khan.
It seems you only watch talk shows of yellow journalists like Hamid Mir, Kashif Abbasi and Khushnood Ali Khan who always try to justify suicide bombings by terming them as a reaction to attack on Afghanistan and operation in Pakistani tribal areas. Has your leader Moulvi Imran Khan visited tribal areas and Swat where Talibans have established their writs and also forced thousands of people to leave their homes ??? Why Moulvi Imran Khan doesn’t condemn the atrocities of Talibans with the same force which he uses against PPP-led government ????
I don’t know if this moulvi Imran Khan ever arranged any press conference only to condemn Talibans, I also don’t remember when did he organize any rally to condemn target killing of Shias all over Pakistan especially in Quetta and massacre and blockade of Shias in Kurram Agency and Orakzai Agency, I also didn’t know whether he ever sypathises with thousands of innocent victims who were killed by terrorists Talibans. However, he is very quick like Gen. Hamid Gul and Qazi Hussain to condemn American missile strikes on terrorists’ targets in tribal areas. Remember, these strikes are always very accurate and hundreds of Taliban & Al-Qaida terrorists including some leaders of Al-Qaida have been sent to hell in those missile strikes.

Anonymous said...

Why Mullah Umar will not talk:

After a pathetically divided and half-hearted campaign to get the Taliban to talk to Kabul, by the American and European partisans of giving up the fight in favour of negotiations, Mullah Umar, leader of the Afghan Taliban, has said he is in no mood to talk. If the “peacenik” lobby comprising retired military commanders and journalists is in any doubt, it should read this message from him: “If you wait for 3,000 years, our position is that the Taliban will not enter into any kind of talks in the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan”.

There is an East-West dichotomy in the situation. The critics of the “proposal” of talks thought it violated the rationally arrived at axiom that talks should not be undertaken from a position of weakness. On the other hand, those who thought the Taliban should be “brought in rather than kept out” were applying the Western axiom to the Taliban: that they should be ready to talk from a position of strength. Needless to say, the “eastern” mind was not properly understood: the eastern or tribal man doesn’t “talk” when it gets the upper hand; it wants to go for the kill and demands total surrender.

Pakistan is trapped in a position of weakness while it is trying to talk to the Taliban. The United States increasingly blames Pakistan for the position of strength that Mullah Umar has gained in Afghanistan. When Pakistan “talks” to the Taliban, Washington doesn’t like it. It is now thinking of punishing Pakistan for being uppity about the international smuggler of nuclear weapons, Dr AQ Khan. It is reverting to a very non-Western and non-logical device of not strengthening the party trying — wrongly — to talk to the terrorists instead of fighting them.


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