The process of talks with the TTP is in limbo once again due to the recent attacks on the Christian community in Peshawar and the attack on our Army personal in Dir. The response from TTP is clear that they want to negotiate from a position of strength. Moreover with no halt in the acts of terrorism, they are giving a clear message that talks are a desire of the government, as well as the security forces, not the terrorists. It means they are all poised to dictate their own terms and conditions in the end.

Terrorist attacks in Upper Dir, Peshawar Church and other places also coincide with the reported release of Mullah Baradar, as well as the reports of Hakimullah Mehsud giving the government a list of ‘terrorists’ for their release and information about the whereabouts of TTP men. How the talks are going to proceed, and what is the possible outcome of this process is visible from the Prime Minister’s statement he gave, during a brief stopover at an airport in England, on his way to New York, in which he expressed his dismay and indicated halting the process.

One of the pre-requisites of fighting such a war is that the nation and forces should have a consensus view or perception about the legitimacy of the war on terror. The insurgent or terrorist groups should not have substantial local, political, religious or moral support from within the society or country. Unfortunately, we do not have a unified stand, as we still are not clear whether it is ours or America’ war; and even if it happened to be America’ war at the outset, we have no answer to whether or not it has become, over the years, our own war? If it is not our war, then why so many sacrifices are being rendered and for what?

The observation is divided on how to tackle terrorism, courtesy the political forces and religious groups which seem to have a soft corner for them.

When Swat was taken over by Fazlullah militants and Islamabad came under threat a consensus opinion for launching a full scale operation was developed. Security forces, political parties, media and civil society seemed on one page. Hence a large-scale operation was conducted which success. It is high time a similar consensus is built again. Talks can only be successful if the desire to negotiate peace comes from the terrorist groups. If the talks succeed, it will be a big breakthrough, but if they fail it would certainly provide legitimacy for taking full fledge armed action against the TTP with full political, moral and material backing of the government, political parties and the civil society.

TAHIR MAHMOOD,

Lahore, September 24.