What does the constitution say about negotiations with terrorists

By Farman Nawaz ( The Frontier Post)

The hardliners, afraid of a public awareness against Taliban atrocities, wail that the war on terror is not our war. Straight away it raises the question that if it is not our war then whose war is this. If it is not our war then definitely it is the war of US against not any supernatural entities but Taliban.

Now here hardliners must shed light on what is their stance about Taliban involvement in this war. Do they consider Taliban freedom fighters? What kind of support they would like to offer to Taliban? Only political support would be enough? Or they would like to provide their land and resources to Taliban fighters? That support would be like the assistance provided to Kashmiri freedom fighters or the support provided to Palestinians? OR Would they keep themselves aloof from Taliban as well as US because it is not our war? Only the answers of these questions can clarify the agenda of hardliners. Otherwise only the phrase “It is not our war” is no more than the ‘card staking device’ of propaganda to protect extremism and fundamentalism in Pakistan.

Now going back to the period when US was attacking Afghanistan, we will apply the principle of “It is not our war”. Was this sentence enough to clarify our stance in front of the Global Community where China and Russia also allowed US to attack Afghanistan? The international community could ask about our stance about dealing with Taliban if they enter our area. Would we allow them to stay in our tribal areas or we would have pushed them back towards Afghanistan? It is sure that hardliners would not have allowed pushing them back to Afghanistan but rather the fervor of brotherhood would have compelled them to allow them staying in our Tribal area. Here again “if it is not our war” then providing safe heavens would have engaged us in the war against US. This vague stance of “It is not our war” would have directly confronted us with US.

I do remember the days when US was dropping bombs in Afghanistan and late at night we could hear the sound of explosions at Zhawora area of Afghanistan. Our religious pundiths were announcing that they would make the American fleets drown in the Arabian Sea. But only the angry looks of Pakistani army were enough to shut the mouths of religious leaders. They were promised a share in the booty of war on terror in the form of MMA government in 2002. It is a fact that the people today not getting tired by shouting “it is not our war” received the booty of war on terror in the elections of 2002. During the period of MMA government international bodies provided loans to provincial government to start Islamic Banking in The Bank of Khyber and Jamat-e-Islami sought the help of US to start a TV channel. Only Sufi Muhammad had taken the initiative and took thousands of loyalists of extremism to Afghanistan but he also came back empty handed and handed over himself to security agencies to avoid facing the relatives of the dead.

Common man is deceived by the argument that if US can start negotiations with Afghan Taliban then why not Pakistan should do the same. Negotiations of US with Afghan Taliban and Pakistan with TTP are two different issues. First of all Pakistan is providing guaranty of Afghan Taliban whether that is Mulla Umer or Haqani to respect the peace agreements but in case of TTP who will become the guarantor of Pakistani Taliban because Pakistani Taliban consist of various factions. Do we remember that our previous agreements with Taliban are mostly failed? Secondly Afghan Taliban are Afghans who are negotiating with US for a share in power but here the conditions set by TTP are confusing in nature. They demanded introduction of Islamic laws in Pakistan. Now what kind of Islamic model is in their mind and who will monitor that it is perfectly implemented or not? The option of total independent foreign policy is impossible to implement and will the government have to take permission from TTP before any policy change. Finally what will be Taliban stance after successful negotiations? Would they shun their arms and become part of healthy society or will establish their political party or merge in any religious party or will hold their guns and monitor the policies of Pakistan?

Finally the time at which this Pandora box of negotiations is opened is raising questions. Tenure of one government is going to complete and interim government will be setup in a couple of weeks. Therefore who will start negotiations with Taliban? Army? What nonsense? How can army provide guarantee to liberate the foreign policy of Pakistan? Because of the issue of controlling ISI and army have started problems between politicians and army. Now Taliban will guide the establishment to frame foreign policy? How can army promise to start Islamic legislation in the country? What would be the stance of Chief Justice of Pakistan, who now a days always put his oar in legislation and explanation of constitution, about such promises with Taliban? If Taliban will not join the ranks of mainstream politics after successful negotiations then who will work for them in the parliament? If Taliban will entrust their right to any religious party in the parliament then what about the two third majority principle to make changes in the parliament? Will Taliban bow their heads against the principle of ‘majority is authority’?

I think that this offer of Taliban will just divide the public opinion, political parties and may be cause cracks in the political and military leadership relations. Though democracy is the concept to listen to all the diverse opinions but if someone does not believe in democracy then does this rule imply. It is also important to mention that if there is no consensus among political parties to negotiate then is it democratic that only establishment starts negotiations with Taliban. What does the constitution say about such negotiations?


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