New Delhi, Nov 9 : Pakistan is back to signing secret peace agreements with militant groups, this time with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has been involved in killing several thousand civilians, including over 130 school children.
Such abject surrender to terrorists has rarely happened anywhere else but Pakistan.
The so-called peace pacts with militant groups, first with TLP and now with TTP, exposes the grim reality of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism policy, a fact which must be noted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at its next meeting.
In Pakistan, such peace deals have become a common feature because militants are used as instruments of political and military power. Whether it was General Pervez Musharraf who struck deals with all hues of militants or Prime Minister Imran Khan, militant groups have been courted for the immense clout they wield among their supporters and patrons. These groups have come in handy for the army and civilian political parties to manipulate elections and national discourse.
Like his predecessors, Imran Khan has also decided to keep the contours of the peace pact with TTP secret. The public, as always, remain ignorant about the concessions given to TTP, which till the other day was one of the biggest threats to Pakistan, ‘funded by Indian and US agencies’.
So why is Imran Khan going out of his way to accept the conditions set by a militant group which is already weak?
Imran Khan had been a supporter of TTP and other militant groups for long which had earned him the sobriquet of ‘Taliban Khan’. Faced with a colossal failure as a Prime Minister and souring relationship with the army, Imran Khan has decided to draw on the support of militant groups like Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and TTP to shore up his position in the hybrid regime that currently rules Pakistan.
He has already kneeled before TLP and is eager to kow-tow before TTP now. As part of his secret deal, several jailed TTP militants have already been released. It is yet to be seen whether he will accept a more difficult condition set by the militant group — to impose their version of Sharia in the country. This was the condition the group had set in 2008-2009 when the then government signed a truce pact with TTP. The truce allowed the terrorist group to consolidate its position in Swat valley forcing the army to launch an offensive against the group which caused heavy casualty among civilians and security personnel.
But Imran Khan seems to be in no mood to learn from the recent history of failures. He is not worried what kind of message his capitulation to TLP and TTP would send to over 250 religious outfits in Pakistan — that violence was rewarding, that holding the country to ransom through acts of ransom and violence would give them a leverage over democratically-elected governments.
What is worse, Imran Khan has brought in the Taliban Interior Minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, to negotiate the truce. Haqqani is a known terrorist leader with an agenda of his own which might not be in line with Imran Khan’s deceitful games in Afghanistan. By taking the help of the Haqqani clan, Imran Khan has belittled his position and compromised his country’s security interests in the region. His truce pacts with TLP and TTP in quick succession could prove to be too hot for him to handle in the near future.