Back in the days when Swat peace deal was concluded to facilitate the notion of “give peace a chance” many of us had this strange expectation that now the warriors in valley will succumb to the conditions of agreement and will put down their weapons to substantiate the peace settlement. But on the contrary and likewise to fate of former peace deals a military operation proved to be a decisive force in settling the issue. Some important lessons need to be learned from this agreement as in these days rhetoric of give peace a chance is again hovering among media and intellectual circles.
When the Sharia based Nizam e Adl was implemented in Swat in February 15 2009 under the strong bout of violence from Taliban side, the activities In Swat rang alarm-bells among the government circles, it was speculated that Taliban are now 50 to 60 kms away from Islamabad after crossing Buner and Shangla districts. The peace settlement instead of becoming a bottleneck to the vicious activities further emboldened the Taliban and they emerged as the sole beneficiaries of this parley. Again the military was called on to stabilize the condition and after two months of fierce battle Molvi Fazlullah fled from Swat, leaving behind the corpses of his commanders and fighters. Normalcy was again restored from the barrel of gun.
The current debate regarding the issue of talks with Taliban is utterly futile owing to the past experiences of their undesired results. The Shakai peace agreement of April 2004, the Sararogha peace settlement of February 2005 and Swat peace agreement of 2008 all failed to achieve the desired results. The debate however should be placed on how and why the successive military operations have failed to counter the resurgence of Taliban? That how after so much loss of lives, artillery and weapons the Taliban and their outfits are mushrooming day by day? Are there soft-corners for Taliban among Army or, Are they not exterminated to meet the strategic expedience after the post- Afghan withdrawal scenario? It is a demanding task for the sitting government to take such initiative as to make Army accountable for their recurring fiascos as the problems on every front are escalating with each passing day. Many of the analysts believe that, it is very much necessary for both the government and Army to be on the same page while concluding peace deals with TaIiban or to launch an operation against them. But the disguised division of pro and against Taliban within Army can be a serious pitfall to achieve any result, be it talks or in form of a military operation.
What all this entails is a question of serious concern for people living on the north side of country. In past few years the activities of Taliban and their related outfits has significantly increased around the areas of Gilgit. The only reason of their silence and their un-brazen strategy is that their native places are facing the surgical strikes of Army operations. When the peace negotiations are concluded these elements will be emboldened to extend the areas of their influence and they would possibly engulf all the north as the area of their base. The recent incident of Fairy meadows in which 11 tourists were massacred in cold blood and the subsequent killing of DSP Hilal Ahmed with an Army colonel is the proof that the influence of Taliban is getting broader day by day. The areas in which these incidents took place, they fall near the border of KPK, where the militancy is already taking an upward spiral. Any possible peace settlement will push the elements of Taliban into the regions where previously their presence has been nil or negligible as happened in the case when a peace accord was signed between government and Taliban to implement Nizam e Adl back in 2009. Owing to the counter-productivity of such a strategy it would be highly insane on the part of government to start such a process where the terrorist factions will be emboldened to extend the areas of their influence. The previous attempts of peace dialogue have shown that Taliban have repeatedly disregarded the conditions of settlement and have sabotaged the peace process by not disarming themselves. The state should treat the mercenaries on the point of authority not on the basis of defensive overtures.
Tthe writer is a final year student of Political Science in Government College University Lahore, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)