The Taliban guide to state maneuvering

Source:  Pakistan Herald Published in Peace Talks on Thursday, May 1, 2014

TTP has ended its one month long cease fire, announcing it would not resume attacks against the public but will only act in self defense.

So now – the government can be blamed for attacks in the future as it has hardly shown any urgency in negotiating with the outlawed group and has been very slow to respond to TTP’s public strikes on national television.

TTP is writing a step-by-step guide on how to take advantage and concessions from the state – which will later be used by other militant groups to achieve their aims. A recent example is an attack in the heart of Islamabad by United Baloch Army which it said was against military’s ongoing operation in Kalat district of Balochistan.

The art of psychological warfare against the enemy is step number two in the TTP guide book. As an end to cease fire does not mean resumption of attacks against the public, TTP is now picking and choosing targets which will result in the public believing that peace lies in the hands of TTP – its wrath is not to be invited through targeted operations in troubled areas.

Every Pakistani was relieved when the TTP announced a one month long cease fire – but attacks continued and the TTP vehemently denied responsibility - so our intelligentsia came to a speedy conclusion: TTP is unable to control cadres within its own ranks.

Unlike Sri lanka’s Tamil Tigers, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Columbia’s FARC, Taliban are well known for their lack of discipline when it comes to political reconciliation and negotiations with stakeholders in the government. Lessons need to be learned from the Doha process in Afghanistan where attacks continued on the US army even when the Afghan Taliban opened up an embassy in Qatar to negotiate terms with the government.

Some politicians of the KPK have suggested that the TTP be allowed to open up offices in the country which will be another milestone in converting TTP into a legitimate stakeholder and will further boost its credibility.  A country’s stakeholders are its armed forces, bureaucracy, political groups etc. These groups play a positive role in strengthening the country and in the process of nation building.  On the other hand, we have rebel groups which engage in destructive activities to weaken the state.

There are two questions of utmost importance here. What will be the cost of legitimizing TTP as a stakeholder? If the TTP is not a unified body, and cannot guarantee peace, with which group should the state hold dialogue with? 

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Written by Shan Nasir