Are Imran Khan’s peace efforts misplaced?

(Access the shorter version here in The News)

Recently, Imran Khan proposed the government to allow the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) to open an office like the Afghan Taliban’s in Qatar. Moreover, to pave the road for smooth negotiations, he suggested that the government should immediately declare a ceasefire. Needless to say, these were big statements to make. However, the way he was assailed by analysts was, at least, equally questionable. Those who disagreed with Mr Khan have been at a loss at suggesting any alternative strategies to counter the menace.

For one thing, we – the Pakistanis – are not having a very merry time anyway. The security forces have been on the offensive for about a decade now but the security situation has only worsened. Though, the forces have been diligently working to bring about peace but the desired results have not shown despite elimination of many key figures from Talibans’ ranks and apparently triumphant battles in different places.

Whether the Pakistani government authorises the forces to launch a new offensive or proceeds with the negotiations, either way it is quite uncertain as to which way the balance will swing. Instability may continue with negotiations – but the same applies to war as well. Alternatively, a new all-out offensive can culminate in lasting peace. But so can winning even a few of the main TTP factions to your side through negotiations. In short, there are no clear and easy answers.

Had progress been showing up in the prevailing war, Imran Khan’s emphasis on talks could have been reasonably questioned. But in the current circumstances, giving peace a chance seems like the only viable option. Differences about the timing, scope, frame and nature of talks should not bar negotiations from proceeding.

The war option will, anyway, remain.


2 thoughts on “Are Imran Khan’s peace efforts misplaced?

  1. Half hearted attempts at negotiation or war won’t bring peace and all out offensive won’t lead to peace, An offensive will cause massive displacement of the local population, leading to a refugee crisis. TTP will escape to Afghanistan (exactly like Fazlullah), Army will have to stay in FATA to maintain security (Army is still to withdraw from Swat, 4 years after operation) & we will see Iraq/Afghanistan like guerilla attacks killing our troops daily.
    Negotiations from a position of weakness and without understanding the many groups which form the TTP won’t yield much results. I doubt the current government is capable of effective negotiations, they will remain divided between dialogue and war leading to the continuation of status-quo and further strengthening the position of those arguing for war.

    IK on the other hand needs to be careful when giving out statements. He should leave some of the controversial statements to his lieutenants. Merits or demerits of ‘TTP office’ statement aside , it was politically unwise thing to say.

    • What an informed comment! Aptly captures the pros and cons of the hawk/dove options. But shouldn’t we suggest the government as to what it can do rather than simply ruling out the possibility of any improvements?

      Let’s put it in another way. Suppose we have an ideal government which has the political will to act. What do you think should be the course to follow in that case?

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