Imran Khan has been hit by a pincer strike. On the one side, the ferocious Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has trapped him and on another axis, the Afghan Taliban is targeting him. This is the general perception that is emerging at the grassroots level in Pakistan, where the people are angry and hurt by the announcement of a ceasefire agreement between the Imran Khan government and the TTP, a UN banned outfit.
“Extremist group TTP should be held accountable for the killings of thousands of people before any negotiations for bringing them into the national political mainstream can take place,” said Hina Jilani, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the Pakistani daily The News reports.
The opposition parties too are angry because they were kept dark about Imran Khan’s secret deal with TTP.
“The problem is that the government hasn’t taken parliament into confidence and has gone about talks with the TTP unilaterally, which is not right. There need not be a binary between kinetic war and talking to militants,” said Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, chief of
Pakistan People’s Party. He asserted that the only way to hold talks with the TTP is from a position of strength. “We need real Red Lines especially with respect to the Constitution,” he pointed out.
Though both sides are silent on the terms and conditions of the secret deal, Pakistani media has reported that the Imran Khan government has laid three conditions before the TTP — accept the constitution, lay down arms and get an identity card. In response, the militant group too has forwarded its own conditions – Shariat system & courts in tribal belt & Malakand,
removal of Pakistani military fences from Durand line, the TTP to be allowed to keep weapons in tribal areas and withdrawal of Pak Army from tribal belt.
Pakistani experts believe that the TTP and the government both are engaged in a tactical game. While Imran Khan’s strategy is to divide the group and check on its eagerness to reconcile, the statements emanating from the TTP do not appear to suggest that they are negotiating from a position of weakness.
Amid the talks, Imran Khan got slammed by the Pakistani Supreme Court, which summoned Khan and grilled him for more than two hours over the “secret” deals with the TTP militants, who are the main accused of killing 140 school children in 2014 among other crimes.
“Why are we bringing them (TTP) to the negotiating table instead of taking action against them?” a judge asked Khan.
The court asked the Prime Minister to pay heed to the parents’ demands and take action against the school attackers and submit the report in four weeks.
According to Pakistani analysts, the deal is brokered by the interior minister of the Taliban regime and the chief of terror outfit Sirajuddin Haqqani- it is like one terror group is mediating talks between another terror group and the government – it is in a very uncomfortable situation.
“Who is the guarantor — Haqqanis ? A terror outfit, how can Imran Khan trust these terror outfits,” ask one analyst.
Some Pakistani observers feel that Imran Khan was doing deals with the militant organisations first with the TLP and then with the TTP for his survival as his government is losing the grip over the country. The worsening economic situation is haunting Imran Khan who is already in many controversies including on the appointment of the ISI chief.
Even supporters of Imran Khan’s slogan of change, “Naya Pakistan”, have started talking about his mistakes and biases.