The decision of Pakistani Taliban to end a ceasefire with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government has dealt a huge a blow to efforts to end more than a decade of violence in the nuclear-armed nation. The militants have said that the government failed to show any progress on its “basic and just demands” and that the decision not to extend the truce was taken unanimously after a meeting of the Taliban’s central council. Whatever the reasons cited by the militants, it sends a dire warning: that terrorist attacks by the Taliban will see a sudden spurt in the coming days.
The collapse of the peace process will also put pressure on the government to address the threat of terrorism. The government has been seeking to reach a deal with Taliban militants operating near Afghanistan to bring peace and bolster the nation’s $225bn economy. Islamabad had made sincere efforts to achieve peace, and made several offers to the militants. The withdrawal from talks shows a lack of interest on the part of extremists to pursue peace.
According to experts, the Taliban will now carry out attacks on the security forces and the people to show that they are punishing the forces for not accepting their demands. More lives will be lost, the security services and army will be on alert and tenterhooks to thwart the attacks.
The Taliban have demanded the release of 300 people whom they say are family members of militants detained in government jails. The government has so far freed 19 prisoners. Militants are also demanding the establishment of a ‘peace-zone’ for militants. Sharif’s aides held their first-ever direct negotiations with militants on March 26, and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said April 13 that a date for the next meeting would be announced in a few days.
In a country where the government has failed to protect its people and provide security to all, the Taliban pose a threat to stability and peace. The onus is now on the Sherif government to eliminate this threat. The government has no option but to launch a crackdown and use all resources within its means to crush the network of militants. The Taliban also will use every means to retaliate, and success for it would mean the ability to kill more people. This is a battle in which the government has to win. There is no alternative, except a descent into chaos and bloodletting. And the victory will be finally with the state if all the state agencies are able to act in unison. The public would welcome any effort to make the public spaces safer.