How can TTP be defined

Posted by Admin On Saturday, 22 February 2014 0 comments
THE leaders in Pakistan seem possessed by magic. Is there another logical explanation for the deliberate effort of our rulers to nurture and strengthen the scourge of terror? The debate on whether the terrorists are misguided simpletons or vicious agents of our external enemies is now over. Led by Imran Khan we have concluded that those opposed to terrorists are enemies of peace. Can the noises made by these ‘dollar-inspired’ critics, demanding identification of redlines and non-negotiable issues, be anything other than crafty efforts to sabotage peace?
The prime minister confidently claimed in Turkey that the TTP would soon be the harbinger of good news. Within hours the TTP claimed mowing down another dozen or so policemen in Karachi (young men who had just committed themselves to serving the state). Why? In retaliation for action against terrorists in Peshawar and Swabi, says the TTP. The interior minister insists that talks and terror can’t go hand in hand. But they can go hand in glove, can’t they? The TTP can continue to fight and talk, and the state can continue to grovel and appease.
What is our obsession with large-scale operations anyways? Is it a part of our national psyche to act only when the enemy is banging down the gates? The Lal Masjid brigade was deliberately allowed by the state to emerge as a nuisance. It wasn’t nipped even after the fatwa that Pakistani soldiers if killed fighting Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas did not deserve a Muslim funeral. It wasn’t nipped in early 2007 when its vigilantes occupied a library or started enforcing morality in the neighbourhood.
And when it was nipped, it wasn’t done by shutting down water or electricity or using gas to snuff out residents, but through a massive military operation that is now used to illustrate the concept of ‘excessive use of force’ in the textbook on how not to do things. No efforts have been made since to sanitise militant-festered seminaries in the capital. No criminal responsibility could be pinned on Abdul Aziz who was released from detention and reinstalled in Lal Masjid. Aziz is now back in the business of declaring the constitution illegitimate and threatening the state with the wrath of suicide attackers in the TTP stockpile.
A former chief secretary of KP explains that Fazlullah too started out as a nuisance. By 2006 Fazalullah had managed to terrorise the local administration and had the support of around 200 fighters (150 locals and around 50 foreigners). The chief secretary decided to surround Fazlullah’s village and arrest him, which he claims could be accomplished easily at that stage. All he needed was 650 men from the police and the Frontier Constabulary. But despite throwing all his influence behind the plan, he could garner no support in Rawalpindi/Islamabad.
Eventually the Fazlullah problem grew bigger and graver and a massive military operation had to be launched to clean up Swat. We have followed the same pro-festering model to the dot vis-à-vis the TTP in North Waziristan, which is now the TTP’s emirate (drones being the only intrusion in exercise of its exclusive sovereignty). Meanwhile, the TTP-led terror syndicate has strengthened its ability to execute terror attacks across Pakistan and has begun claiming its pound of flesh in Karachi as well.
Can the present mode of negotiations produce anything other than terms of surrender to the TTP? Lets forget about the enforcement of Sharia for a moment and review the other uncontested demands. After having lost hundreds of soldiers and thousands of citizens, can the state withdraw troops from Fata and hand over all tribal agencies to the TTP? Can the state release over 4,000 prisoners accused of terror-related crimes across Pakistan or convicts, such as Aqeel and Imran Sadiq —masterminds of the GHQ attack?
The problem with peace negotiations is that they are not being conducted with a foreign state but an indigenous terror group. You can negotiate the release of prisoners after an interstate war because they go back to a different territory. How do you release terrorists who have admittedly masterminded or killed policemen, soldiers and citizens and have every intention of killing more once released? What legal or moral basis does the state have to prosecute or keep some criminals locked when others are literally allowed to get away with murder?
The negotiations under way have no future so long as Pakistan perceives itself as a sovereign nation state capable of exercising authority over its territory. There are simply no principles of law or morality that support any deal with the TTP other than committing more resources to mainstream Fata, which the TTP doesn’t care much about. The negotiations have no future also because for them to succeed the TTP would need to get out of the business of terror, which would deprive it of its financial resources and the power and influence it wields.
The negotiations have no utility because if the idea was to run a replay of Swat, it has backfired. The peace deal in Swat and its aftermath exposed Fazlullah’s outfit and caused enough revulsion to leash up public opinion in favour of an operation. But Fata is no Swat and this time TTP isn’t exposing itself either. The talks between pro-TTPers in power and pro-TTPers out of power have mainstreamed TTP’s noxious narrative and not isolated it.
Having dressed up herd-followers as leaders should we complain about lack of courage, conviction and clarity in their actions?
The writer is a lawyer.
Twitter: @babar_sattar


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