The Taliban is Winning Them Over: Time to Talk to the Pakistani People, Mr. Sharif

Author: 
Author data: 
Madiha Afzal
Publication Date: 
February 2014
Description: 
Brookings UpFront
Project: 
Civil Violence Project
File Name: 
Document Type: 
Articles and Op-Eds

Pakistan’s government suspended peace talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on February 17, after a faction of the Taliban claimed the recent brutal killing of 23 paramilitary soldiers. The TTP also claimed responsibility for a blast in Karachi on February 13, which killed more than 12 elite police officers. After the suspension of talks, the Pakistani army has attacked and killed suspected militants in the country’s tribal areas multiple times. It’s unclear whether this violence is the beginning of a sustained military campaign against the TTP or a shorter, more targeted assault. In any case, it seems that talks will not resume until each side can credibly convince the other it is committed to a ceasefire, which is unlikely.

Political analysts have long predicted that peace talks with the Taliban will eventually fail, as they have in the past. The Taliban does not recognize Pakistan’s government or its constitution, leaving no middle ground for negotiation. It wants to set up a system of extreme Sharia law, with Mullah Fazlullah as the leader of Pakistan, and Mullah Omar as Amir-ul-Momineen, the commander of the faithful. In other words, it wants to plunge Pakistan into the dark ages, or, more accurately, the Afghanistan of the 1990s. Its method of choice to reach this goal is violence and terror. How does one negotiate with that?