By Shemrez Nauman Afzal
Research Advisor and Consultant (Security and Governance)
Spearhead Research – Pakistan
The story of peace talks between the Pakistani government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – and how they ultimately failed – is a unique tale in the saga of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), especially in the war of Muslim nation-states versus Islamic extremism and fundamentalist militias in South Asia. Among many questions (and some answers) concerning the Govt-TTP talks, this analytical report explains the most important of these questions: why the peace talks failed; by doing so, it tries to understand whether a negotiated peace could still be achieved in Pakistan or not (and should such a course of action still be considered for successful policy implementation or not). Be that as it may, the actions of all parties in Pakistan’s internal conflict are loud and clear for everyone to see.
Was the Pakistani government and military waiting for the peace talks to fail, in order to launch a calculated and targeted military operation with the legitimacy of having explored all other non-military options? What kind of balance is the Pakistani state trying to achieve in the precarious year of 2014, where military action in the tribal areas and unfavourable regional developments could lead to dangerous instability, or even worse, a faltering and unlikely peace? Is Pakistan negotiating towards the final battle that it will fight (against the TTP militant group and against Al Qaeda allies in the country) for its internal security, peace, stability, and very survival? Many questions were asked, and are still being asked: this analytical report tries to understand the developments between November 2013 and February 2014 that concern Pakistan’s internal security and existential threat matrix, and develop an estimation of policies, perceptions, actions and reactions that have led the country’s political and military leadership to choose the course that they have embarked upon – and have reached till March 05, 2014.
[Shemrez Nauman Afzal is a Research Advisor and Consultant (Security & Governance) at Spearhead Research – Pakistan]
ADDENDUM: (26th March, 2014)
As noted in the abstract, the Spearhead Special Report contains information, data and analysis as at March 05, 2014. Since then, many new developments have taken place concerning the talks initiative between the TTP and the Pakistani government. As the general public believed that an operation was ongoing, it was revealed that secret talks continued behind the scenes under the direct supervision of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, and the TTP announced a ceasefire for the month of March. As the TTP’s main shura engages in talks with the government, splinter groups and disenchanted factions – who want to continue waging war against the Pakistani state and are averse to talks, like the newly formed Ahrar ul Hind – continue attacks against Pakistan. However, these attempts to “derail the peace process” are failing, as the TTP and the government are scheduled to hold direct “face-to-face” meetings with each other very soon in an undisclosed location. The author notes that the analyses and opinions contained within the special report are still useful and pertinent to the topic of relevance, and that the suggestions, recommendations and policy frameworks discussed in the special report still remain valid for purposes of academic discourse if not for tactical, political, or strategic application.