HAVING participated in the peace march to Waziristan with Imran Khan and having followed his statements regularly, please allow me to make the following points about the PTI’s policy regarding the Taliban.
First, the PTI wants peace within Pakistan and its neighbourhood, especially in our tribal areas and KP;
Second, the PTI wants the Taliban to respect human rights of all Pakistani citizens and obey Pakistan’s laws;
Third, the PTI condemns terrorist activities;
Fourth, the PTI condemns drone strikes.
These are the goals that the PTI shares with other well-meaning political parties.
However, the PTI differs from other parties in how to bring about the peace to our tribal areas and KP. Whereas other parties put the responsibility of the situation on solely the Taliban, the PTI considers that the responsibility for the situation lies with many actors, including the government of Pakistan, the US government, the Taliban and a host of state and non-state actors fighting for their agendas.
Accordingly, the PTI’s solution to the problem does not solely address the Taliban but emphasises a holistic approach taking into account all the different factions, motivations and interests.
Speaking broadly, the PTI policy consist of the following: (1) The fighting should stop first, both the drones and the militants’ acts should stop;
(2) The trust deficit between the warring factions should be reduced;
(3) The Taliban should be allowed to form a political party and seek their agenda through ballots and not bullet;
(4) Those elements who do not lay down their arms should be alienated from the population and dealt with through courts;
(5) If there is foreign involvement, the military may be used to contain the foreign influence.
It must be remembered that any peace process will have bumps. When the IRA reached a settlement with the British government, extreme elements within it formed the Real IRA and tried to thwart peace by terror acts.
Similarly, any peace with the Taliban will involve setbacks and bumps and conspiracies. If, however, contrary to the PTI’s stance, a military operation is launched, then it has to be precise and specific.
Using a hammer-like approach will not only bring tremendous amount of suffering for the local population but will also alienate them and force them to support the Taliban.
ADIL SALEEM KHAN