By Masood.Ur.Rehman Khattak, Weekly Pulse Magazine, September 23, 2013
Pakistan army lost another senior officer in the war against terror. A Major General along with a Lt Colonel and a Lance Naek lost their lives when a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) struck their vehicle in Upper Dir. According to Inter Services Public Relations, “Maj Gen Sanaullah and Lt Col Touseef Sepoy Imran embraced Shahadat this morning. They were returning after visiting troop’s posts on Pak Afghan Border.
This is not the first incident in which Pakistan Army lost its senior officers. There have been many cases in which Pak-Army lost senior officers of the rank of Lt General and Major General. It is a clear message to those who believe that peaceful negotiations are possible with these militants.
The intention of Pakistani Taliban is clear; they don’t want peace with Pakistan government. They have nothing to do with the peaceful negotiations. They are paid mercenaries; their strings are in the hands of our enemies sitting outside Pakistan.
Pakistan’s army chief General Kayani declared that militants will not be allowed to take advantage of the military’s support to the political process. He further said that “While it is understandable to give peace a chance through a political process…no one should have any misgivings that we would let terrorists coerce us into accepting their terms.”
General Kayani is right in his approach. Peace deal with these militants is not possible. Their demands are unacceptable. TTP demands release of their comrades in Pakistani jails, and withdrawal of Pakistan army from tribal areas. These demands in reality are surrender of Pakistan government. Pakistan government must take stern stance against pre-negotiation demands. It is necessary for the political leadership to support Pakistan military at this point. Pakistan military have lost thousands of its soldiers; it would be unjust with them if we ignore their sacrifices. We have to identify our real enemies. These religious zealots in tribal areas or elsewhere cannot dictate their terms. It is imperative for the government to take appropriate action against such fanatics. Their source of funding must be dismantled. It has been observed that TTP has established its network in Karachi and carried out criminal activities like bank robberies, target killing, extortion and land grabbing to generate funds for their notorious activities against Pakistan.
Recently Pakistan government has started targeted operation in Karachi with the help of rangers and police. It is necessary that other intelligence agencies must also work together with rangers and police to stem out these militants from Karachi. After dismantling their financial base it is imperative for Pakistan military to carry out operation against militant hideouts in tribal areas with the help of local tribes. But no operation in tribal areas would be successful if it is not coordinated with the US and Afghanistan. It is equally important for Afghanistan and the US coalition to secure their side of the border so militants from Pakistan could not escape a blow from Pak-army.
Without any doubt Pakistan military has the will and courage to take on these militants. Skilled military operations have been observed in tribal areas and Malakand division. Pakistan armed forces without any foreign support eliminated militants from Swat and adjoining areas. TTP network was dismantled in South Waziristan agency and now they moved their bases from SWA to other areas in tribal area.
General Kayani has emphasized on early execution of steps against terrorism by evolving a national consensus. Without cohesion and unanimity in our ranks we cannot defeat this menace of terrorism. It is necessary for us to work together against this existential threat to our survival.
Gen Kayani further said that, “It is important to get united, evolve a national consensus and implement it at earliest to find a solution”. He said “The war against terrorism can only be won when we all are on the same page….so there is no doubt in our and terrorists’ minds.
There is no doubt that peace is the only way to establish a violence free society. Peaceful negotiations must take place but from the position of strength. Any peace deal from the position of weakness would be a disaster for Pakistan.
Pakistan is a nuclear weapon state with a strong military; it must never succumb to any pressure. Talks should be with those who accept the constitution of Pakistan, respect the democratic norms of Pakistan, respect the judiciary and cease the violent activities against Pakistan government and military. But TTP at this point of time is not interested in peace deal with Pakistan. If they had been serious for peace talks, the attacks against security forces might have died out. But so far we have not observed any ceasefire from the TTP. They are continuously attacking Pakistan military. On the other hand PML-N government looks helpless. Especially after the killing of senior military officers now it would be difficult for them to convince Pakistan army for peace talks with Taliban. Other dilemma for the government is non-serious attitude of the TTP. They have blatantly accepted the responsibility of recent attacks against Pakistan military. In such a situation it is impossible for the Pakistan army to accept proposal for peace talks with TTP. This is the reason that Gen Kayani in his recent speech clearly conveyed this message that Pakistan will never bow down to the militants. Currently Pakistan is at a crucial juncture, we as a nation must get united against militancy of all types. There is no room for such mentality in Islam and there should be no place for such people (TTP) in our society. We want a peaceful prosperous Pakistan and that dream will come true if we stand united and work together for the betterment of this country.
Author is Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University Islamabad. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org