By Senator Rehman MAlik
Pakistan is passing through the worst span of its history when it is facing a serious economic crisis, sharp depreciation of the Rupee, an abnormal reduction in the growth rate, increase in inflation, trouble on its eastern and western borders, pressure from the IMF, and its impact on the common man and unchecked corruption coupled with nepotism. Most of these problems are because of terrorism as, for more than twenty years, Pakistan has been fighting a war against terrorism in which we received a huge loss in terms of loss of precious lives, economic instability and devastation of basic infrastructure. Most crises in our country emerged due to our war against Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as they are the ones who created security issues that scared foreign investors.
Following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, the debate has begun over what to do with the Pakistani Taliban and what is the government’s future course of action. After PM Imran Khan’s statement of general amnesty for the TTP, some people are strongly opposed to talks with the Taliban and some are demanding accountability of the TTP for their heinous crimes. There should be no compromise on the integrity, sovereignty, constitution, and law of Pakistan while giving general amnesty to the TTP. It must be noted that the Taliban have never abided by the agreements they had made in the past but instead always take advantage of the time gained during dialogue and negotiations to strengthen themselves and have continued terrorist activities. No doubt, it is a good idea to bring all those elements of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban and other terrorist organisations who have deviated from violent ideologies and want to follow the constitution and law of Pakistan to the mainstream, but giving an amnesty to those who had been involved in killing and terrorism is against the constitution and law of Pakistan. The TTP should be held accountable for the massacre of innocent children at Army Public School, Peshawar and the incident should be investigated, as to who was behind the attack as the parents of the children are still waiting for justice. The handover of Ikramullah, the suicide bomber who survived the attack on Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed should be demanded from the TTP as presently he is a part of their hierarchy. The nation wants to know the facts of the attack on Malala Yousafzai, and details of the attack should be sought from the TTP during talks with them.
At present, there are more than 25,000 TTP terrorists and more than 7000 terrorists of Daesh who have returned from Syria in the Nuristan region of Afghanistan and the Afghan government should immediately disarm them and hand them over to Pakistan so that the talks can proceed successfully. The TTP would have to be made accountable for the attacks and killings in Pakistan as the parents of martyred children of Army Public School are still waiting for justice. The families of those thousands of Shias who were killed in Quetta, Karachi, Gilgit, Parachinar and other cities of the country, seek justice.
In the last twenty years, more than 80,000 innocent people including Pakistan Army, police, law enforcement officers and personnel have been martyred by the TTP, and if their brutal killers are forgiven then the souls and families of martyrs will never forgive us. As a former Interior Minister, it is my observation that the TTP will continue its terrorist activities by taking advantage of the dialogue and will never abide by the ceasefire agreements. Talks with the TTP had begun several times during my tenure as Interior Minister but had never been successful because the Taliban always continued their operations and did not back down from their nefarious intentions. Terrorists strengthen themselves by taking advantage of time in dialogue so the government should never rely on their ceasefire announcements.
I fear that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) must be planning to continue terrorist activities by keeping Pakistan engaged in talks through the Afghan Taliban as it has been experienced in the past; the Taliban have never been sincere in moving towards peace. No hasty step should be taken against the law and the Constitution of Pakistan.
I would like to reiterate that I am never against reconciliation and dialogue with the Taliban and bringing them into the national mainstream and it is a good initiative however, the TTP has never been sincere with Pakistan. The government should take the Parliament into confidence before talking to the TTP and Prime Minister Imran Khan should shun his ego and work with the opposition on important national issues such as bringing TTP into the national mainstream. The government must announce the formation of a truth commission to examine the Taliban’s brutalities, which have been an irreparable loss to Pakistan. Let us quantify the loss caused to the nation by TTP.
(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Standing Committee on Interior. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik)