Posted by: ourvoicestogether | June 18, 2008

The Unholy Truth About Negotiating With The Terror Traders

I hate to sound like a prophet of doom or a bitterly cynical skeptic but there is something shameful and sinister about this whole entire ‘phenomenon’ of ‘talking it out’ and ‘negotiating’ with the jihadists in Pakistan.

One doesn’t need to be an ‘A-list’ historian to recall the evil deeds of these fundamentalist outfits that have wreaked havoc in people’s lives around the globe and have managed to change the very basis of how and why life exists on God’s planet.

Nothing surprises me about Pakistan anymore. I am fully cognizant about the fallacious, foolhardy and the absurd manner in which governmental functions are carried out. However, what has made me scratch my head and wonder is the rationale according to which the new government is trying to reach out to these terrorists. Why would the leaders of a ‘dysfunctional’ state yearn to appease these traders of death and, worst of all, give in to their demands? I guess for some achievers the sky’s the limit; for others, like the Pakistani leadership, it’s a question of how low can you go?!

Quoted below are some news items that have appeared in the Pakistani Press recently:

Government agrees to enforce Shariah in Malakand – Daily Times (May 14)

PESHAWAR: The NWFP government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat agreed on Tuesday to the implementation of Shari Nizam-e-Adl Regulations 1999 in Malakand division within one month. The Taliban’s demand for Shariah implementation has been settled, Awami National Party (ANP) NWFP President Afrasiab Khattak told journalists after the second round of talks with Taliban representatives from Swat. He also said the two sides decided to extend the ceasefire agreement until the third round of the dialogue…

…Taliban representative Ali Bakht told reporters that their delegation was completely satisfied with the progress made in the second round of talks. He said the Taliban had demanded implementation of Shariah law, the army’s withdrawal from Swat, the release of all Taliban prisoners without pre-conditions and compensation for damages to civilians during military operations in Swat…

…Asked if the Taliban would lay down arms before a troop withdrawal from Swat, Ali Bakht sad: “We have no arms.” Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour told Daily Times he was optimistic about the talks. Asked about the success of the parleys, he commented: “Where there is will, there is a way…”

Army to leave Mehsud areas after deal inked – Daily Times (June 06)

PESHAWAR: The military will “withdraw completely” from the Mehsud areas of South Waziristan after Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud frees the remaining captured army and paramilitary soldiers, and the government and Mehsud tribes sign a peace deal, according to a draft truce made available to Daily Times on Thursday.

“If Clause 10 (A) of the peace deal is honoured, the army will vacate the Mehsud areas,” reads Clause 11 of the draft peace agreement. Clause 10 (A) refers to the release of “kidnapped army and Frontier Corps soldiers” by Baitullah in South Waziristan.

Taliban commander in South Waziristan’s Sararogha town Taj Muhammad told Daily Times on May 24 that militants led by Baitullah were “still holding dozens of soldiers” captured during operations or ambushes.

Cross-border attacks: The draft agreement does not include the condition of a commitment by the Mehsud tribes that they would not allow militants to continue cross-border movement for attacks on the United States and NATO forces inside Afghanistan. NWFP Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani says however that it is a “sticking point” among all the stakeholders – the Taliban, the government and the coalition partners in the war on terror (the US and the NATO countries).

“Mehsud tribes say they cannot include this point in the agreement since they have no common border with Afghanistan, (but) our allies (in war on terror) say this clause (of cross-border movement) must be included (in the agreement),” Ghani told Daily Times in his office on May 28.

The governor says the government is talking to the Mehsud tribes and not Baitullah, adding, “Let Baitullah say what he wants to say.”

The 15-point draft agreement binds the Mehsud tribes to oust Al Qaeda-linked foreign militants from their areas in one month after the peace deal is signed, but also announces a possible two-month concession in this regard.

The draft peace agreement says only those Taliban prisoners who have not been charged in a court of law will be released.

Dispelling Western fears about peace deals in Waziristan, Ghani said: “This is not the endgame. You need to create space and a peace deal will reduce the space for militancy.”

It appears as though the federal and the provincial governments are chancing their luck to bargain, indulge in wheeling dealing and cut deals with folks who are far away from recognizing the principles and virtues of humanity, who have a criminal track record and who have slaughtered thousands of innocent souls and effected millions of others in recent times.

Lets face it – Pakistan has been the center of terrorist training camps and a source of Taliban and al-Qaeda operations since whenever we have known Islamic religious fundamentalism and the jihadi movements. The governments resolve to cross the lines and deal with the mullahs face to face will only encourage and strengthen the brutal groups of these vultures perched high up in the mountains in the north of Pakistan.

What does the West and the civilized nations of the world need to do about it?

First of all, exert pressure on Pakistan to see reason and realize that it’ll only harm any prospects of rooting out fundamentalism if these clans and tribes that want to impose ‘Shariah’ or kill in the name of religion are talked to.

Secondly, a policy review with respect to the aid and assistance provided to Pakistan by the United States and the European countries is long overdue. Islamabad has trespassed limits of betraying the faith that Washington has imposed on it as ‘the greatest ally’ in the war against terrorism more than once. It is time that some stock-taking is done and strings are attached to the multi-million dollar ‘donations’ given to fight the terrorists. For all I know and what I have heard from those well-informed, the help provided is perhaps being diverted to shelter the enemies of world peace by the powers that be in Pakistan.

Of course the Pakistanis will say, ‘leave us alone and let us sort our own mess’. However, the crux of the matter is that it has been proven well beyond reasonable doubt that the various power structures within the Pakistani state machinery want this fundamentalist ulcer to keep going as intensely as possible.

It is safe to say that, left alone, Pakistan is not capable of even handling basic foreign policy related issues. It is such a broken entity that without the ‘external crutches’, the government cannot even perform the basic, everyday functions.

Pakistan needs a direction in dealing with the terrorists. Even though the new government is resisting the idea, leaders in Western capitals interested in eliminating the Talibans and al-Qaedas of the world, need to aggressively involve their respective countries and join hands to penetrate deep into the Pakistani northern territories and leave no stone unturned to successfully neutralize and blunt the Mehsuds and the Baitullahs.

Time is short, for sure. Governments in Pakistan will continue to come and go – that circus will continue forever. Every government has its own ‘strategic plan’ and hence this rickety coalition in place headed by the Yousaf Gilani is no exception. What the world, however, needs is a consolidated, long-term plan to deal with the fundamentalists that is immune from any internal policy changes that might go into effect whenever the faces of the clowns running Pakistan change.

Pakistan is a sham, a failed state. Not much should be expected from this broken down setup. This is a country that is an absolute bundle of contradictions where 25% of the population lives in sheer, pitiful poverty and, yet, corrupt politicians and generals go about their lives in the most luxurious of ways. The fact that one-third of the population suffers from illiteracy and the only up and running school system is the madrassah based system, speaks volumes of the atrocious indifference to the ground realities that subsequent rulers have shown, failing to provide even the basics of life to the subjects. This unsurpassable ignorance is, therefore, translated into atrociously indifferent policy-making that benefits just a handful and shows insensitivity to the majority.

US policy-makers need to recognize the importance of taking charge to ensure that the military supplies sent in good faith to fight terrorism are not being shipped to the jihadis by Pakistan to equip terrorism. Case in hand is the Danish Embassy suicide attack that happened last week – the 27th such occurrence in the first half of the ongoing year.

Also, any further move by either the military or the political leadership to talk to the Taliban needs to be nipped in the bud. A ruthlessly targeted approach that ensures no bargaining and no negotiation with the fundamentalists should be adopted.

Cynical and skeptical as I may sound, I understand and know well that Pakistan is a can of worms that is tough to deal with. They say, ‘passion speaks the language which reason does not follow’. The new Pakistani leaders are perhaps too passionate; in fact passionate to the extent of being insane – they don’t realize the enormity of the crisis or may be, they have their own ulterior motives involved. Whatever the case may be, all that I am aware of is that the jihadists have to be crushed with an iron hand and that is the only possible and plausible solution to the end this chaos that we have been pushed into by the scourge of terrorism.

–Ahson Saeed Hasan

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