Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must be scratching his head, wondering what his next move should be. On the other hand, the militant leadership is probably enjoying cups of green tea in a mud-house somewhere in the tribal region. The beardos can afford to relax – after all they have just checkmated a confused and clueless political leadership while also putting to the test the political rhetoric of those who have gone hoarse lobbying for peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban.

The nomination of the five-member committee to represent the Tehreek-i-Taliban in talks with a four-member government-nominated team appears to be a smart political move by the TTP.

The TTP-nominated committee is representative of the school of thought which vociferously advocated peace negotiations with the Pakistani militants.

The militants have nominated PTI chief Imran Khan; Maulvi Kifayatullah, the burly, former JUI-F MPA from Mansehra; JUI-S leader Maulana Samiul Haq, who until recently claimed to have been tasked by the government to engage the militants; the Jamaat-i-Islami leader from Bannu, Professor Mohammad Ibrahim; and the famous Lal Masjid cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz.

The TTP spokesman said that the banned organisation had spoken to the individuals and had obtained their consent.

Among the bearded crowd, the clean-shaven Khan seems like the odd man out but then, perhaps more than the others, he articulated and forcefully pushed for a dialogue with the militants. Not just that, he ordered his party men to forcibly stop supplies for foreign forces moving through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa before entering Afghanistan. His party also staged a sit-in to protest drone strikes in our tribal regions.

So, tactically and politically speaking, the militants have chosen an ideal team. The ones, who believed that peace was possible, have been given the task to make it possible.

Let militants not be blamed for lack of seriousness or resolve; let their chosen few speak for them and vouch for them by engaging the official handpicked team, the majority of whose ideological bent of mind may not be different from their supposed interlocutors.

It’s a win-win situation – tail, I win, head, you lose! Like-minded people on both sides. As one commentator put it, it was a case of Liverpool playing against Liverpool.But this is not all what it is all about. The TTP has put the political parties’ own rhetoric to test. Will Khan now come forward and be part of a team representing the militants and risk being permanently called a Taliban Khan by his political detractors?

Even more interesting is the fact that his party’s government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has endorsed and supported the official team by nominating Rustam Shah Mohmand to it. How will Mohmand – a government interlocutor – confront his own party leader sitting on the other side of the table?

However, Khan has made it clear he wouldn’t be part of the Taliban-nominated committee. “This is beneath his stature,” a party leader said.

JI’s Prof Ibrahim was smart. He acknowledged having been approached. However, he added that while he had consented to be part of the effort he would do so only as a mediator between the government and the Taliban.

Samiul Haq, who opted out, is simply miffed that Prime Minister Sharif did not return his calls. Hence, he has adopted the wait-and-see approach – in other words he will not commit either way till the situation clears up.

Maulana Abdul Aziz too has been a bit ambivalent. He said he was willing to help as much as he can but added that till the government imposed the Sharia or appeared sincere in doing so, he would not become part of the team.

This leaves behind Maulvi Kifayatullah, who was once JUI-F’s contact person with the late TTP leader, Waliur Rehman, to respond to the nomination.

But where does this leave the government’s initiative? What will the prime minister do to achieve political consensus for his peace initiative? Or will he now swallow the bitter pill and do the seemingly unthinkable – order a military operation – now that at least four of the political parties which supported his move, have now been chosen by the militants to sit on the opposite end of the table?

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Comments are closed.

Comments (26)

observinpakistan
February 3, 2014 7:42 am

when Illiterate talibans are checkmating the oxford graduate/former cricket captain and other so called educated media anchors/politicians, then it is time to admit that brain has been drained and now we have braindead media anchors and politicians and naive youth running the show!

nasser
February 3, 2014 10:28 am

Taliban have bowled a 'doosra' to Imran. He is clean bowled, yes, there it is, middle stump uprooted!

Tahir
February 3, 2014 10:49 am

What a farce. There's nothing to negotiate. You don't negotiate with people who attack your home, behead your soldiers, and kill innocent women and children. You take the fight to them. What are we negotiating? That we agree to their demands, so that they may allow us to live under their conditions? No - mobilize that ridiculously large army and lay their homes and populated areas to waste. What a golden opportunity has been missed to attack them from both sides while the drones would rain hellfire on them. We need wartime leaders but alas we're saddled with poor imitations.

Jeeves
February 3, 2014 12:53 pm

Nobody would want to be in Imran Khan's shoes in the current scenario ....

Ghulam Ali
February 3, 2014 12:59 pm

Dawn paper used to be a sober source. But for some times it has developed deep-rooted bias towards peace talks and a political party, at the cost of its over 60 years good repute. One needs to remember that over 90 percent insurgencies in the world were addressed through talks. What are motives behind, apparently a spear campaign launched by Dawn against peace in the country is not known. Never in the past, any serious effort for peace was made. Pakistan consistently followed the policy which could result more Dollars. Enough is enough, let peace give a change.

Parvez
February 3, 2014 1:31 pm

Checkmating the government................now how hard is that ??

Idealist
February 3, 2014 1:53 pm

Good read , Thanks Ismail Khan

AVetta
February 3, 2014 1:57 pm

I do not share the perception that PM Sharif “must be scratching his head”. The apparent hesitation and vacillation hide a determination to do everything to achieve the impossible, namely, to bring TTP to the negotiation table and negotiate sincerely. The process is slow but steady. It would be odd if Mr Sharif, a seasoned politician does not know that Taliban will not agree to peace as they are determined to create their own little kingdom by destroying the integrity of Pakistan. The one good effect of the serious efforts by the Pak PM is that it will encourage people like Mr Khan to move away from appearing to support Taliban. Almost the whole world understands Pak PMs strategy namely, if peace cannot be achieved by negotiations then the Pak Army is prepared to defend the integrity of Pakistan. Every sane person including Pak journalists, should support the Pak PM and the Pak Army.

Guest64
February 3, 2014 3:06 pm

The PM is on record to state that "we will negotiate within the confines of the Constitution " , Any body ( lawyers in particular ) who have had his or her hands on the Book called Constitution of Pakistan , will testify that There is no even an iota of a word let alone any group of words to make even a remote reading of "Negotiating process with the Terrorists or people declared as Killers ?!? So under which Constitution the PM has setup and mandated the 4 member team to negotiate the so called peace with the TTP ??? I wonder , why Mushy and his team of constitutional Barristers , Would File a Petition against the PM , trying to subvert and undermine the Constitution by adopting this so called peace negotiations with Terrorists , killers , At least they ( the TTP ) have openly stated that they do not recognize the Pakistani law and constitution as such

Last Word
February 3, 2014 3:08 pm

Kudos to the author for penning this brilliant analysis with an appropriate heading. It is a catch twenty two situation for the cricketer turned politician who without wearing his helmet has received a nasty bouncer is now trying his best to duck but will not be able save himself. The Taliban will be quite displeased by the refusal of their biggest supporter and show its reaction in the coming days. The Taliban with its master stroke has pinned down the civilian govt and it would be interesting to see whether TTP appointees merely act as facilitators or seriously back Taliban given agenda.

Safina
February 3, 2014 3:22 pm

I think Imran Khan understands both the sides well. He should be part of this team. I will propose one more name and that is Shahbaz Sharif.

jshdjshd
February 3, 2014 5:43 pm

Indeed a master stroke by the TTP. They have put everyone in a fix. These negotiations will be a pill the government can neither swallow not spit out. Although I am for negotiations, (wars don't solve much anyways) but I don't understand what the outcome of these negotiations will be?

Agha Ata
February 3, 2014 6:24 pm

An embarrassing checkmate, of course. But can't Sharif consult the establishment?

khanm
February 3, 2014 6:37 pm

There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.it will never happen in Pakistan

AZ
February 3, 2014 10:20 pm

Just because he is a supporter of the talks, doesn't make IK responsible for the actions of TTP. Also, since he does not REPRESENT the TTP, why should he become their representative. In a just system, you can stand for the right of the other party to be heard, without automatically agreeing to their philosophy. I'm disappointed in the author's lack of understanding of such basic principle.

Fi
February 3, 2014 11:54 pm

The only person checkmated is Imran Khan. Why is he balking now when he has been defending them all along? why is he running now when he thought they were right and gov. wrong? What was he doing when he blocked NATO supplies in their favour? Now that the dice has been set rolling by the gov. why is he not contributing his bit? BTW, What does he has to say after being "droned" by taliban? We want answers IK, PTI!

independentthinker
February 4, 2014 1:41 am

@observinpakistan: I totally agree with you - who would have thought Imran Khan to be such a coward and our Prime Minister - well! one can understand - when he failed in all other careers, he decided to join politics. I hope our chief of staff can stand up to these cowards and take a decisive action, on his own.

Aussie
February 4, 2014 4:14 pm

Too late.....Pakistan is heading towards its logical end. Bye Bye

Observing Pakistan
February 4, 2014 11:32 pm

@Tahir: Pakistani leaders and youth have actually reinforced the behavior of terrorists by directly or indirectly providing cover and support for them . Pakistani media has blood on its hand as well . Unless a real leader , not a brain dead politician or a former cricketer , comes in the picture , I'm afraid that things will continue to get worse until complete destruction of any trace of civilization . Everything , from media to youth , from people to elites , all have to get transformed from a primitive mindset to a mindset that fulfills the requirement to be a human in 21st century .

Observing Pakistan
February 4, 2014 11:34 pm

@Aussie: Pakistan was conceived in the delusions of a grandiose poet , reality has come to shatter that delusional mindset

dr vimal raina
February 5, 2014 11:24 am

The Taliban offer to nominate Imran for the talks had a bit more 'swing' for his liking.

guru cingh
February 5, 2014 2:12 pm

this is a nice thing to say

Faraz
February 5, 2014 5:28 pm

talking with TTP was never an easy task.writer precisely comments on present scenario.Taliban one demand is that women should not wear jeans.

khanm
February 6, 2014 5:35 pm

When neither party can give checkmate, the game is drawn. Let us do our best not to let this saga be withdrawn…we have a lot at stake…. If you look at the democratic process as a game of chess, there have to be many, many moves before you get to checkmate. And simply because you do not make any checkmate in three moves does not mean it's stalemate. There's a vast difference between no checkmate and stalemate. This is what the democratic process is like.

muhammad
February 6, 2014 8:32 pm

@Faraz: Ask these idiots that how many women wear jeans in Pakistan ? however PTI women should be ready to shed their jeans

muhammad
February 6, 2014 8:35 pm

Imran Khan & PTI has no clue who they are sidding with Taliban are not very brutal but also very cunning in dealing with fools like him

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