Code 72160
PublishDate: Thursday, January 23, 201414:08

Talk with good Taliban, fight the bad ones

According to one source, at least seven Pakistani Taliban groups are in touch with the government for a negotiated solution.

The rank and file of the Pakistan Army is really enraged over the recent Taliban attacks and the urge for military operation against the terrorists is growing but the civilian leadership is cautiously weighing all options and is avoiding taking any rash decision.

There are, however, indications of possible implementation of a third option where the dialogue process would go side by side with precise/surgical strikes against those Pakistani Taliban groups which do not enter into a dialogue process and continue their terrorist activities.

A Pakistani ministerial source told The News that following the recent spate of terrorist attacks targeting the Pakistani security personnel, there was a lot of resentment in the armed forces. 

Even otherwise, the source said that the Pakistani government was under pressure from the media, political parties and even from ordinary people to use the option of force.

The government, however, is likely to “rethink” the whole strategy either by calling the APC, through a joint parliamentary session or by inviting key political figures. Some strong voices in the government do not support the option of a “military operation” despite being disappointed with the response of the TTP to the government’s dialogue offer.

Even if there is complete failure to settle the issue through the dialogue process, an important federal minister believes that there is no need to go for a full-fledged operation as it would have too serious repercussions. He said that there was a third option where the government would respond by force against those who carry out terrorist activities but would not fight with those who would agree to talk.

In this case, the option of negotiation would remain open but there would be no full-fledged military operation. Precise strikes and surgical operations would be carried out against the warring groups without disturbing the already established line between the good and bad Taliban.

According to one source, at least seven Pakistani Taliban groups are in touch with the government for a negotiated solution. It is, however, not sure how the recent terrorist attacks on security forces and the military’s response through air strikes would affect these contacts.

Although, there is a lot of pressure from all sides to go for a major military operation, including in North Waziristan, government ministers apprehend that it would spread the scope of militants’ attack. There is also a realisation that once the government decides to go for a full-fledged military operation against the TTP and its groups, there would an acceleration of terrorist attacks on civilian targets.

Despite political differences, there are many in the PML-N, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Ch Nisar Ali Khan, who like the PTI chairman Imran Khan are really apprehensive of using the option of military force and calling off the first option of dialogue.

The government now realises that it is a very complex issue and there are no easy solutions available. Though the dialogue option is not paying as such so far, it is believed that the military option also has some serious fallout, both for the military and civilians.

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