It is amusing to see Imran Khan’s article pushing for talks, published on the same day as the initiation of the negotiation process. Maybe someone should keep him in the loop. The government reports that first contact has been made. The TTP has made rivers of blood flow through the streets of this country, and the state draws the conclusion that negotiation is the only way this can be prevented. One can disagree, but doing that will achieve naught, as it appears despite repeated protestations from all and sundry, the option of dialogue will be pursued.

However, whether or not this process is viable, or the best course of action, can be questioned. To begin with, among the many demands that the TTP has made over the course of their relationship with Pakistan, cries of rewriting the constitution in accordance with their warped version of the Shariah, and going to war with the rest of the civilised world have been heard aplenty. They have basically said that they will not stop killing innocents until their demands are met. This is not a problem of a few not getting a political voice in the country, or adequate representation, this is a politically organised pressure group holding the entire country hostage until their demands are met.

If the negotiation process does succeed, the TTP, in exchange for laying down their arms will ask for something. A louder voice, or room to play in KPK is probably on the cards. If that is the price to pay for the end to the violence, it is too high. Because the Taliban’s demands will not stop there. Their ambitions were not limited to Afghanistan before, and they will not be limited to KPK now. The government needs to draw a line, for they will not be able to do so later. If a presence in FATA is tolerable, are they also agreed to an officially sanctioned Taliban presence in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad? For in the Taliban’s mind, there will be nothing off-limits once they are accommodated politically in one part of Pakistan.

If Mr Sharif has a vision of the country as a Taliban state after the next ten years, that was certainly not what he described during his election campaigning. Mr Khan has never denied his vision of a Pakistan with a politically accommodated Taliban presence, but only now are we learning to take him at face value. One can simply hope that the Prime Minister tempers Mr Imran Khan’s boundless enthusiasm for the Taliban with some semblance of a national security policy which deals with this internal threat to our existence. So far, Mr Sharif’s insistence on believing denials of responsibility about the Peshawar All Saints attack, are leaving many in doubt as to whether his own understanding of the Taliban is any sounder than Mr Khan’s.