Tuesday, February 5, 2013

TTP’s audacity

In essence, this peace offer of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is no different from its earlier response to the government’s reconciliation overture. It wants the Pakistani state to surrender to its diktats, which not even a banana republic would acquiesce into. And yet the TTP spokesman has the gumption to surmise that the government seems “non-serious in peace talks”. In any case, his refrain that the TTP is willing to talk to the government for the sake of Islam should carry the cake. What people is he talking of when in its terrorist attacks and suicide bombings it has slaughtered no less than 40,000 innocent civilians? And those include, horribly, thousands of women and children. And numerous toddlers too. And yet with a pious face he wants the release of five militant commanders whose hands are red with this horrific carnage of the civilians that has left very many women widowed, very many children orphaned and deprived very many families of their breadwinners. Perfidy, after all, cannot be unlimited. What Islam is he indeed speaking of, which even its worst enemies admit, even if grudgingly, is a noble religion of peace and amity that abhors the murder of even an innocent nonbeliever, what to talk of an innocent Muslim? And yet the TTP and its cohorts have been slaughtering and maiming only their Muslim compatriots, and, more despicably, claiming the responsibility of each heinous murderous strike pridefully as if they have done some heroic deed. Absolutely contrite they are not at this repellent barbarity on their co-religionists. And with what moral authority is he asking for guarantors for peace talks when it was the militants who palpably broke the peace accords in the past? When the ANP concluded a peace deal with Fazlullah, he took it that Swat had been parcelled out to him to be his kingdom and started behaving like en emperor. So vain indeed was he that he even refused condescending to give an audience to the ANP peace negotiating team in his royal court. And when the ANP did a deal with his father-in-law Sufi Mohammad, he too started acting like a sultan of Malakand. Not even Baitullah Mehsud stuck to his peace vows. Apart from attacking the security forces, he kept sending suicide bombers to butcher the innocent civilians in markets and shopping plazas, hotels and restaurants, and on roads and streets. Given all this, it is not the militants who need mediators to stand guarantors in peace talks with the government; it is the other way round. It is the government that needs guarantees that the TTP would stand by the peace accord, if concluded any. Enough of the spokesman’s skullduggery. But facts are facts. Had indeed the TTP really changed, it along with its cohorts would have stopped with terrorist attacks, at least on the civilians, as a manifest of its seriousness in peace talks. But that mayhem of the civilians at its hands continues unabated. Indeed, going by its own claims it is now also quite involved in the incessant bloodletting in the port city of Karachi that has virtually turned into a live killing field. Wouldn’t then this peace offer of the TTP fit into line of thought of various observers that this overture is indeed the militant outfit’s ploy to gain time to refurbish the loss of strength it may have suffered due to the ongoing military operations in the tribal areas? Whatever it is, if the TTP is really for peace it must give an earnest of it first by declaring ceasefire and acting on it visibly. The states, it must understand, do go through difficult times when faced with violence and bloodletting. But bend or yield they do not and triumph ultimately. The outlawed outfit would do well to lay down the arms and seek whatever it wants through civilised democratic ways. Hasn’t the spokesman himself proclaimed that the TTP has “become a popular movement”? Then, shouldn’t it, instead of keeping up with the massacre and maiming of the civilians, get into the political mainstream and acquire what it wishes peacefull

President Zardari stresses on Pak-Afghan border management

President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday said that creation of enabling environment to facilitate trade and business activities between Pakistan and Afghanistan is of paramount importance for ensuring lasting peace in the region. The President made these remarks at the conclusion of 3rd Trilateral Summit between Pakistan‚ Afghanistan and United Kingdom held here in the outskirts of London. The President called for putting in place effective border control management system on both sides at formal border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan.The President said that any future Afghan plan must by definition include a roadmap for the early return of Afghan refugees to their homeland and adoption of effective measures for border management to address cross-border criminal activities. President Asif Ali Zardari while terming contribution of trilateral process as highly valuable said that it has made a good progress in a very short span of time and assured the participants of the summit that Pakistan would continue to play its due role in Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process. The President while reiterating Pakistan's commitment for a long term peace and stability in Afghanistan added that it is important to have realistic expectations from Pakistan and called for matching initiatives from Afghan Government and international partners to create the right mix for a real breakthrough. The President said that early conclusion of the proposed Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghan Government would be a major step forward as it would send a clear signal that they are ready to work together for mutual interests. The President while highlighting the importance of Doha Process with Afghan Government underlined the need for bringing all Afghan stakeholders on board to obtain clarity and quality to talks. The President said that Pakistan is working on the Afghan roadmap for the peace process to the extent feasible and has started implementing specific requests made by the High Peace Council (HPC) which include release of Taliban detainees. The President thanked Prime Minister David Cameron for hosting the Summit and for extending warm hospitality to him and the members of his delegation.