The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Mohmand chapter has allegedly executed 23 FC personnel, who had been abducted from Shongari checkpost in 2010. According to the group’s chief, Umar Khalid Khurasani, the killings were carried out to avenge the deaths of fellow militants, allegedly killed by the security forces.

Since the government’s announcement to hold peace talks with the TTP a few weeks back, no less than 16 attacks have taken place, targeting civilians, cops and security forces. Despite the recent declaration of ceasefire by the armed forces, the militants have still not halted their activities. This has further fuelled the overwhelming skepticism that surrounds the entire ‘peace-talks’ exercise.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is under constant pressure from political opponents as well as the wider public to reconsider his approach towards dealing with terrorism. With each attack, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the government and other pro-talks parties to continue holding negotiations with the TTP. The state appears to be in an extremely weak position considering its offers of peace and reconciliation are being repeatedly reciprocated with bombs and bullets.

Then, there is the fundamental issue of credibility, which is crucial for the success of any negotiation process. When two opposing parties agree to sit down and negotiate, it is assumed that both are willing to compromise on something important. So what will it be, Nawaz? What is the Government willing to do, to get its hands on a ceasefire? How will the Government make credibility matter to the TTP? Finding a trump card is problematic because putting something at stake for them means you must guarantee it will not be lost. You give in somewhere and you accept where you cannot win. Is the Government really willing to go that far? To go as far as converting the TTP into credibility seekers?

Moreover, what strategic advantage does the state seek from this? All it seems to be doing is exhausting the dialogue option, and making the “proactive operation option” seem like a better plan. Assuming that some middle ground does exist, are any of the two parties willing to compromise on their positions and converge? Can they even afford to? In the unlikely event that they do, there are no indicators to suggest that the resulting agreement will be sustainable. Until or unless the state doesn’t have that assurance, there is not much point behind any of this heartache.