AS the country’s leadership has vowed to crack down on terrorism without discrimination, the reaction from the TTP has been a familiar one: a threat to attack two of the leading political parties of Pakistan for fighting ‘America’s war’.
At the same time, the government has promised to take ‘pre-emptive’ steps to counter militancy, while also keeping the door for negotiations open for those fighters who lay down their arms.
Firstly, the TTP’s threat against the PML-N and the PPP, specifically mentioning the prime minister and the foreign minister, is a chilling one and needs to be taken seriously, as politicians have in the past paid with their lives for standing up to terrorism. The security apparatus, therefore, needs to increase protection for political leaders, including those mentioned by the terrorist group.
The TTP claims that Pakistan is fighting them “to please America” and has blamed the government for launching a war against the group. This is but sophistry, for it is the TTP that abandoned the truce with the state last year, and began its campaign of terror against Pakistan anew. As for fighting America’s war, though the US has offered this country help to counter the TTP, this is very much Pakistan’s war, as the administration cannot yield any space to militant groups who wish to change the basic character of the state through the barrel of the gun.
In related developments, the interior minister says a new federal counterterrorism body is being created to coordinate with the provincial counterterrorism departments. This will be vital, for the terrorists have the capability to strike at targets across the country and it is only through coordinated efforts involving the civilian law-enforcement bodies, as well as the military and intelligence apparatus, that the war against militancy can be won.
As for the offer of talks with the militants, the state needs to mention clearly that along with laying down arms, Pakistan’s Constitution must be respected for any negotiations to succeed.
Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2023