“The less men think; the more they talk.”

–Montesquieu

Trumpets are blowing all around after a resolution was adopted by the All Parties Conference that agreed to hold talks with Taliban militants. The resolution also advised the government not to follow the guidelines provided by the United States in the war against terrorism.

While the resolution that emerged after the All Parties Conference has been generally welcomed but many seasoned analysts were questioning the final outcome in case the government and Taliban leaders sat down across the table. While a spokesman of the Taliban said that his organization Tehreek-i-taliban Pakistan valued the peace talks offer by the federal government of Pakistan yet they will discuss the conditions that the government of Pakistan will have to accept before the process of peace talks begins. These include the release of dangerous terrorists and in certain cases persons involved in outright criminal activity.

This statement of valuing the government offer of talks was still in the air when two suicide bombers attacked police in Kohat to secure the release of prisoners from them. The Taliban spokesmen also wanted the government to announce a general amnesty for all the militants that could lead to the release of dangerous people in the streets once again. Here it would be pertinent to point out that the exercise of convening an All Parties Conference on the issue of terrorism may be a noble gesture on the part of the PML-N government yet the basic fact remains that after winning the mandate of the people it is the duty of the federal government to initiate measures that will ensure that the menace of terrorism is addressed in an effective manner. This is so because the government cannot pin the responsibility on resolving this issue on those political parties who are not present in the government and therefore is required to put in place such measures that will help resolve the issue.

The government must study how the menace of terrorism was solved by the British government when the Irish republican army was playing havoc in that part of the world. Similarly the example of Sri Lanka and India is there to be studied as both these countries tried to resolve the issue by convening political conferences embracing all shades of opinion but were unable to eliminate the menace of terrorism from their territories. If we take the example of India, the government of Dr Manmohan Singh has made several futile attempts to curb the Moist insurgency that is going on its Eastern side for several years in spite of the fact that all political parties including those in the opposition have responded to the calls of the Indian central government and created the so-called consensus to tackle the issue. Similarly the Sri Lankan government made several attempts to pacify the Tamil tigers and no amount of political solidarity by different shades of opinion was in any way helpful to resolve the crisis.

In this country there were previous attempts to strike peace deals with Taliban militants who not only reneged on their commitment but openly challenged the constitution of Pakistan including the Superior judiciary. Therefore utmost care is required to proceed in negotiations with the Taliban fighters who may use the time that will become available to them during the peace negotiations to regroup and refurbish their arsenal. Since there are many splinter groups within the Taliban organization it will not be an easy task for those negotiating on behalf of the government to strike a judicious deal that could bring peace and prosperity in this country.

The government is well aware that some groups of militants were receiving lavish funding from abroad including India and were in fact not jihaadis but mercenaries fighting for money. Then who will rein in the remnants of the Al Qaeda movement who may be associated with the TTP but were not working under their command and control. This group includes fighters from at least half a dozen countries and they had a separate network of violence. While it can be accepted that the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif has indeed made another sincere effort to engage the forces of violence in a meaningful dialogue so that acts of terrorism, subversion and sabotage can at least be reduced to levels that are acceptable to the people of this country.

It will be a great achievement if Mian Nawaz Sharif and his team succeed in controlling the acts of violence because it will not only benefit the common citizens of Pakistan but could jump start a tottering economy that has made everyday lives of Pakistani citizens quite miserable.

One hopes that this effort will not go in vain. Pakistan would finally understand the futility of Taliban’s ambitions to create a state that thrives on extremism and intolerance because being Pakistani nationals they are expected to join mainstream politics and then try to bring whatever change they can through a popular mandate and not by bombing institutions of education and killing innocent fellow Pakistanis. This cannot continue for long periods of time as history has taught us that whenever violence was practiced at the end of the day it was destined for failure.

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist.