Today The News published a report of an audio tape delivered to their offices in Peshawar of a Taliban leader suggesting that they would like to discuss the possibility of a peaceful resolution in the region and offered the name of Imran Khan as a potential mediator. Looking at the news item published in the newspaper its ironic to note that the editorial board choose to hide the importance of this ground breaking news item, camouflaging it under the title of “No Talks with Taliban now: Fazl” probably yet another dubious statement by Maulana Fazlur Rehman who chose for the umpteenth time to toeing the official pro-establishment line of going guns blazing, suggesting that peace was utterly out of the question.
I feel this offer by the Swat Talibans to come onto the negotiating table is a very important development and quite possibly a breakthrough in an out-of-control war on terror offensive. It is my opinion that such peace initiatives should have been in place throughout the offensive, fully empowering the Pakistan Army to aggressively demilitarize the warring militants but at the same time keep an open door policy for diplomacy and possibly a peaceful settlement of this conflict.
Some pessimists may rightly see this to be a deliberately attempt by the Talibans to forestall any ongoing military offensives, which may give them time to recuperate and retaliate later with renewed energy, it is a genuine concern, but on the flip side it could also mean to suggest that the Talibans have weakened enough to be now ready to come onto the negotiating table for any peace talks.
The message that was delivered in the audio tape seems to be a very logical demand, a demand which easily resonates through any dignified, honorable and self respecting Pakistani. They argued “We are Pakistanis and we don’t want to harm our country. Our objection is to the government’s policy of toeing the US line and fighting its own people at the behest of America – Unfortunately, Pakistan is ruled by politicians who live in Washington and London before coming to power and go back to these places after losing power” – is that the basis of their jihad against the US-enslaved politicians in Pakistan? If it is, then to be honest it perfectly echoes with my own struggle on this blog, an effort to rid our country of being controlled by American interests and possibly revive the dignity, respect and honor of being a Pakistani
Suggestions of a total disarmament being a pre-condition to any peace talks seems to be a little far-fetched utopian dream, considering that our country stands in peril. Our first effort should be to bring the parties together, discuss, argue and debate their demands to hopefully see how much can be negotiated, yes, the ultimate goal should be a weapon-free society, but in reality we have never achieved de-weaponization even in other cities in Pakistan, let alone try to establish that in the FATA region. I think we should be ready to negotiate even to a long term ceasefire.
I truly welcome the suggestion of peace talks, the possibility of looking beyond America’s vested interest to destabilize Pakistan with the hope of taking ownership of this menacing problem and solving it our own way. Whosoever may be the mediator, be it Imran Khan, be it any other negotiator genuinely interested in solving this mess and possibly take Pakistan forward to a better and peaceful future.
The News: Our Peshawar correspondent adds: The Swat Taliban have announced their willingness to accept the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan as a mediator for ending the conflict in Swat and the rest of the Malakand Division and bringing durable peace in the area.
A message of the Taliban Shura in Swat was conveyed in an audiocassette delivered to The News in Peshawar. It contained a statement in Pashto by a Swat Taliban military commander, who identified himself as Nooruddin Muhammad alias Abu Akash. He said he was the head of the military wing of the militants in Swat.
Praising Imran Khan as a true patriot, sincere Pakistani, good human-being and pro-Muslim politician, Taliban Commander Nooruddin Muhammad said they had trust in him as an intermediary.
“Unlike other politicians, Imran hasn’t sold out his soul. His Qibla is still the holy Ka’aba,” he remarked. He said the Taliban had never closed the door of talks with the government to resolve all outstanding issues. “We are Pakistanis and we don’t want to harm our country. Our objection is to the government’s policy of toeing the US line and fighting its own people at the behest of America,” he argued.
The Taliban commander maintained that the militants only attacked security forces and law-enforcement agencies in retaliation after their homes were bombed and their families were wiped out. He alleged that the CIA, RAW and Pakistan’s pro-US rulers were involved in acts of terrorism in public places and bazaars. Hinting at the PPP and the ANP, he charged that two ruling political parties in Pakistan were pursuing the US agenda.
“They should learn a lesson from the fate of Musharraf who too followed the American agenda. Unfortunately, Pakistan is ruled by politicians who live in Washington and London before coming to power and go back to these places after losing power,” Nooruddin Muhammad said in his audio message. He said that the Swat Taliban head Maulana Fazlullah was safe and presently in a secure place.