The obdurate insistence on ‘talks’ with the Taliban when the entire nation is against making any deal with extremists, is no less than dictation by a coterie of Punjabi politicians who seem to have hijacked government. On Thursday, even the prime minister was unaware that his interior minister had already released militants as part of the ongoing ‘deal’ with Taliban. If I’m not mistaken, the PM had undertaken all decisions himself when he announced his intent to give peace a chance yet again a couple of months ago. Directly after the news was confirmed by the prime minister house after much confusion, opposition political parties were disturbed enough by the sudden release of ‘non-combatant’ militants that they demanded immediate transparency with regard to the government’s negotiation strategy.

It appears as if our prime minister has made it a habit not to know the business of state. None has forgotten the debacle that was Kargil. But the public forgave PM Sharif because he claimed General Pervez Musharraf had attacked India behind his back. When the peace deal starts going horribly wrong (which it will without a doubt), will Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif claim that General Chaudhry NisarAli Khan did it behind his back? The helpless masses had accepted the impotence of their leader in the face of the military’s strong arm tactics in the instance of Kargil. Now are they expected to put up with a prime minister whose own interior minister is conducting another Kargil under his very nose?

The PM does not seem to realize that he is writing his political death warrant with this interior minister and this peace deal. If at all Pakistan survives this ‘peace talk’, the Nawaz League will not be coming to power any time soon. The Pied Piper that our prime minister is following into the abyss, dragging the entire 200 million with him, was an ephemeral phenomenon. Taliban Khan’s glow dulled very quickly when his erstwhile supporters realized there was nothing more to him than the repetitive rhetoric of Drones and ‘Amreekakijang’ as responses to every ill imaginable. Indeed, most of his ‘youthful’ support base began leaving him when he conducted his blockade of NATO supply trucks in protest of drone attacks and registered an FIR against the CIA instead of condemning the Taliban. But perhaps the prime minister, who is a follower not a leader, does not quite have his ear to the ground because he is following the wrong man – he is following a fool who has been exposed for the shallow, opportunistic and ineffective politician that he is. Indeed, the PM may wake up in 2018 and ask, ‘who moved my Nihari?’ if he leaves all the listening and doing to his toupeed minister. Something clearly gets in the way of his sight, because the minister wouldn’t see consensus if it hit him in the face and ran over him. For the past few months, whether you turn to the man on the street, or to mainstream media, or to the armed forces, or to social media, those without obstruction to their faculties only see and hear consensus for an all-out fight against the Taliban, not the ‘MazakRaat’ atrocity being perpetrated in the name of giving peace a chance.

Indeed, why does the N-League coterie leading the disaster called talks, think the Taliban came to its knees after two weeks of bombardment by the Pakistan Air Force? That was the time the Taliban were sandwiched between PAF ‘talks’ and the snow, with nowhere to run. But the coterie snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and gave the Taliban just what it wanted – time and space in the shape of a ceasefire for them to disperse and consolidate. On whom is the N-League inflicting revenge by this act? On the people? On the army? On the police? The rangers? Children? Polio workers? Does it remember that there was not a single major militant attack during the time the PAF was ‘talking’ to the Taliban? That the attacks by ‘Ahrar-ul-Hind’ etc. began after the ‘ceasefire.’ Does the N-League define ceasefire as ‘we cease, you fire?’ The PML-N better never taunt the PPP with ‘democracy is the best revenge.’ The people of this country will choose corruption and mis-governance over bedding fanatics and terrorists anytime.

And the one politician who is fiercely and fearlessly articulating the nation’s voice is young Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. If anyone really stands to draw the youth bulge, it is the youth named Bilawal – not the jaded, cynical, middle aged Drone pretending to speak for the youth you are following, dear prime minister. Bilawal is real, prime minister. He speaks the language of the youth who want to live a decent life, of the youth that aspire for this country to prosper, of the youth that want freedom and opportunity in this life – not the 72 hoors of Never-Never Land, not a colony of lepers living in fear and loathing.

Mian Sahib, watch Bilawal. He is moving your Nihari. And watch General Nisar… he is cooking your goose.

   The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.­