ISLAMABAD: A principal stumbling block the federal government faces in quickly starting talks with the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is the continuation of terrorist attacks by groups working under the TTP umbrella, credible sources said.
“The government has unimpeachable evidence in black and white of their involvement in all the major terrorist attacks that took place after the All Parties Conference (APC), and even before,” one source said on condition of anonymity.
It was clear from reliable source that dealing with the terrorist outfits is a hot potato for the government. It is in an extremely difficult situation although it wants to resolve the terrible issue through dialogue.
“How can the dialogue be kick-started when we are receiving dead bodies?” he asked, and said that the TTP strategy was to publicly deny and disown the terrorist attacks for the sake of public opinion.
At the same time, the prime objective of these strikes is to pressurise the government to come to terms with the TTP, he said.
But still, the source said, different developments have taken place for the initiation of the dialogue process, and there are and have been indirect contacts of the government with the terrorist outfits as well. However, formal talks are yet to begin.
Six days after the APC unanimously passed a resolution to launch the dialogue process, the source said, Major General Sanaullah Niazi and some other army officers were martyred in an unprecedented terrorist attack.
Then, there were bombings on the Peshawar church, claiming nearly 90 lives, and a bus of civilian employees of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. Latest was the killing of KP Law Minister Israrullah Gundapur and nine others in another hit.
All these incidents, he said, were sponsored by the groups, which are operating under the aegis of the TTP. He added that this terrorism strengthened the hands of those who were strongly opposed to opening a dialogue and were vociferous in demanding that the terrorists must be crushed with force and this was the language they understood.
The source disclosed that there were around a dozen and a half “effective” terrorist groups while the overall number of such organisations hovers around 50.
“Everyone of them wants separate talks with the government,” he said, adding that the Indian, Afghan and American factors were also present in these groups, and the government has undeniable proof to the effect.
Only “political jugglers”, who want to take political mileage out of this frightening situation, are pressing for start of talks without loss of time, even when “our homes are filled with corpses and we are mourning the loss of our near and dear ones.”
About the preconditions put forward by the TTP, another source said the withdrawal of troops and release of prisoners could be talked about only on the negotiating table.
He said as far as the halt to the CIA operated drone attacks is concerned, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif forcefully pressed his opposition during his meeting with President Obama, and now an international campaign has been built up against the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strikes.
“The Americans say they will stop the Predator attacks if Pakistan itself takes meaningful and concerted action against terrorists in North Waziristan. Unless Islamabad does so, the drone strikes will continue, they argue,” the source said.
However, he said, Pakistan has made it clear that it was not prepared to move against any group or outfit at the behest of any foreign country. “We will take action where we ourselves deem appropriate.”
The source pointed out that while some public and political circles want solution of the problem through parleys, there are also strong opponents of the dialogue process and call for immediate use of force on the ground that at the end of the day the government would have to because the TTP would not come to terms through negotiations.
He said that at no stage has the government gone for a solo flight and has always taken all political parties along so that the problem is resolved through the backing and support of all the stakeholders.