Pakistan to begin “secret peace talks” with the terror group TTP, again?

Pakistan is once again attempting to hold peace talks with the Pakistani terror group the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, at a time when Pakistani military chief is negotiating for defence cooperation in the US.

As per reports in local media, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl faction), a known Islamist political party with close links to Islamist militancy, seems to have been tasked with the agenda. The party chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman held a meeting with Afghanistan’s Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad, Sardar Shakib Ahmad, at his residence, to initiate these talks, that are being kept a secret.

During the meeting, Sardar Shakib Ahmad extended an invitation to Maulana Fazlur Rehman to visit Kabul on behalf of the Afghan Interim Government.

But more importantly, this is being reported as Pakistan’s attempt to reopen dialogue with the terrorist group, whose leadership is said to be based out of Afghanistan.

Earlier such peace talks have always failed and ended up strengthening the terrorist group.

Some instances of the failed peace talks and ceasefire attempts between the Pakistani government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) over the past 15 years include:

  1. 2004-2007: Before the formal establishment of the TTP, there were sporadic attempts at peace agreements with various militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas. These early efforts were not entirely successful in establishing lasting peace.
  2. 2008-2009: The first formal peace agreement between the Pakistani government and the TTP took place in the Swat Valley in early 2009. The agreement, known as the Swat Peace Deal, was criticized for conceding too much to the militants. However, it eventually collapsed, leading to a full-scale military operation in Swat.
  3. 2014: In early 2014, the Pakistani government initiated talks with the TTP. A committee was formed to facilitate negotiations, but the process faced challenges from the beginning. The TTP demanded the implementation of Sharia law and the release of prisoners, among other conditions. The talks broke down after a series of militant attacks and the killing of military personnel.
  4. 2017-2018: In 2017, reports surfaced about backchannel talks between the Pakistani government and the TTP. However, these talks did not lead to a formal agreement, and the TTP continued its attacks.
  5. 2019: In July 2019, the Pakistani government announced that it was considering talks with the TTP, signaling a potential shift in its approach. However, no formal negotiations materialized, and the security situation remained volatile.

It’s important to note that the history of peace talks with the TTP is marked by a cycle of negotiations, breakdowns, and military operations. However, each time the Pakistani space has ceded space to such terror groups, the public has had to face the brunt with increase terrorist activity.

Already Pakistan is seeing a rise in terrorism, with the current year seeing several terror attacks across the country, and in such an environment another round of talks in only going to further embolden the terror groups operating in Pakistan.

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