ISLAMABAD: The government faces a moral dilemma as it gets ready for talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, one of the 60 outfits officially banned and declared as terrorist organisations.
The government keeps on saying that negotiations with the TTP would be held within the framework of the Constitution, but experts believe that there is no room in the Constitution to enter into a dialogue with terrorist groups.
Asked if the government was considering lifting a ban on TTP before the start of talks, Information Minister Pervez Rasheed told Dawn there was no such possibility and the status quo would be maintained.
The TTP, with Baitullah Mehsud as its head, came into being in Dec 2007 – five months after the Lal Masjid operation. The organisation was banned on Aug 25, 2008.
The TTP has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings on military convoys, and it is accused of killing a number of civilians.
Before the last general elections, the TTP had agreed to hold peace talks with the government, but the killing of one of its key leaders changed the scenario. A fresh initiative taken by the government for talks after adoption of a unanimous resolution by an all-party conference did not work either because another drone attack killed TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud.
But the government kept on saying that the dialogue was its top priority. When the TTP killed a number of Frontier Corps personnel in Bannu it was thought that the government was ready for a final showdown and that a military operation was imminent. But Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the formation of a four-member committee for talks with the TTP.
When a government official was asked to comment on the idea of holding talks with an outlawed organisation, he said it was a decision taken by all political parties represented at the all-party conference in September.
He pointed out that several political parties had supported formation of the committee to hold talks with the TTP.
The government has banned 60 terrorist organisations so far.
Al Qaeda, Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Muhammadi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Tehreek-i-Jafria Pakistan, Tehreek-i-Islami, Ansarul Islam and Balochistan Liberation Army are among the groups that were banned from 2001 to 2010.
People’s Amn Committee, Lyari, Karachi, Markaz Sabeel Organisation, Gilgit, and Tanzeem Naujawanan-i-Sunnat, Gilgit were outlawed in 2011.
Anjuman-i-Imania Gilgit-Baltistan and Muslim Students Organisation, Gilgit-Baltistan, Al-Harmain Foundation, Rabita Trust and Tanzeem Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat were among the outfits that were outlawed in 2012.
Khana-i-Hikmat, Tehrik-i-Taliban, Bajaur, Tehrik-i-Taliban Mohmand, Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat, 313 Brigade, Abdullah Azam Brigade and Baloch Students Organisation Azad were banned in 2013.