The latest statements from rival Taliban groups in Pakistan, in favour of, and against negotiations, display the fissures in the entity, and illustrate the enormous challenges faced by those repeatedly expressing support for talks.

Nawaz Sharif throughout his election campaign, after being elected, in his first televised address, in the Defense Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) meeting and most recently, in an interview to The Daily Telegraph, has displayed a leaning towards dialogue instead of military action. The PM will be hard-pressed to convince either the military of the possible success of the venture and on the other hand, may just end up running pillar to post trying to find recognised representation of the Taliban.

In a statement, a TTP spokesman rejected Maulana Fazl ur Rehman and Munawar Hassan as guarantors of the negotiation process, the same two persons who had previously been endorsed as intermediaries.

The Prime Minister’s offer of talks during his speech has been incomprehensibly interpreted as a “declaration of war” by the TTP, according to its spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid.

The government’s desire to bring the TTP to the table may be reflective of popular public sentiment, but a successful settlement with the extremist faction requires a lot more than just that. The objective of a terrorist organization is to create an atmosphere in which people fear for personal safety, challenge the writ of the government and intimidate institutions into meeting its demands by threats of violence. The job of the government, should it choose to accept it, is to protect the lives and interests of its people. Which, of the two, have been more successful in achieving their objectives can be ascertained after a reading of the morning newspaper on any given day.

While it is true, most conflicts end on the negotiation table, the position from which a government negotiates is crucial to the process. As of now, the government extends a bandaged hand in thin air.

The truth is that the TTP feels no pressing need to enter negotiations. The government needs to take serious steps, even of an aggressive nature if necessary, to put the Taliban in a compromised position where a dialogue offer would be music to their ears.

The TTP must be made to feel that they stand to lose a lot more than they can gain, should they foolishly choose to turn down the offer of talks. The PM is advised not to rely on the TTP, or any other militant faction for that matter, to hold dear the same desire for peace, as him. The TTP has demonstrably displayed time and again, in Sharif’s less than 100 day tenure, that it does not share his enthusiasm for talks.

The time for second-guessing and delay is over. An action, of one kind or the other, as long as it ensures peace in the country, must be taken -- now.