Pakistan as always is divided between Talk or Not Talk with the Taliban. But this is not an equal division. If you take a hard look, you will find that the entire parliament, the Army, the media, and the mullahs are in favour of talking to the Taliban for ‘peace’. Yes, there is the Shia leadership which is against the proposed talk. There are social media outlets like Let Us Build Pakistan, Roshni, and Viewpoint, which argue against talking to the Taliban saying they, the Taliban, have brought nothing but misery to Pakistan.
But they do not matter. No. These are peripheral voices, almost subaltern. So who cares? Who should care?
To understand it another way: the parliament reflects the will of the people. The Army is almighty in Pakistan. The media can make or break anything. The mullahs can destroy anything. If the entire parliament is happily willing to talk to the Taliban, it overrides the voice of the minority. “Entire” is an important word. Apart from the social media, there has been little protest against the proposed negotiations with the Taliban. There has not been any mass protest against them. No vigil, no civil society, no fake or true liberals are found anywhere. Those who happen to raise voices against the Taliban and the negotiations do not live in Pakistan. Those few who do and argue against the negotiations, are very brave people like Saroop Ijaz. But who is listening to them?
The anti-negotiations journalists argue that since the Taliban do not recognize Pakistan’s constitution, ‘we’ must not talk to them. The Taliban kill with impunity and have no respect for law or life. They apostatize the Shias and want to exterminate all of them. They have more or less the same sentiments about the Ahmadis, Hindus, and Christians.
But these Talibanic views are no secret. Except for the above-mentioned minority, no one wants to discuss these views. The Taliban kill PTI law-makers and still Imran Khan wants them to open their offices in Pakistan. Shahbaz Sharif calls them “our brothers”. The Supreme Court through its verdicts on the Karachi quagmire has been doing great service to them by not even obliquely pointing out that they have done any harm to anyone.
And yet the negotiations are not taking place. This is what the anti-negotiations side fails to understand. This is where the Army, the real and only rulers of Pakistan, successfully carries on its traditionally subversive handiwork: Let the bloody civilians keep fighting and stay divided, so the Army continues to steal people’s money and stay beyond legal and moral reproach.
The Taliban will never talk. They have nothing to talk about. They have no agenda. They have no system of governance which can replace the present ‘un-Islamic’ constitution of Pakistan. Who will represent them? Will top Taliban leaders land in Islamabad or Peshawar to negotiate? Who will speak on behalf of Pakistan? A member of the parliament? A retired general? A mullah?
My answer is a resounding NO. If Imran Khan or General Hamid Gul, the two Taliban devotees, go to Waziristan to speak to them, they will meet the fate of Colonel Imam, the self-styled Father of the Taliban. They all know what is in store for them if they leave their protected territories in Pakistan and visit the Taliban. Basically there is nothing to talk about. There are no ‘two’ sides. There is no Talban and/vs X when it comes to the proposed negotiations.
Those who support negotiations with the Taliban serve the interests of the ruling elites of Pakistan. In the hullabaloo which the Taliban-Talk brings about, the real social issues are obfuscated. Through this obfuscation, people are made to forget that millions of kids cannot go to school, 70 percent of Pakistanis do not have access to clean water, public education system has collapsed, the population explosion has already taken place, there is wide-spread unemployment, people in general are clinically depressed and need help, and power inequalities have blasted out of proportion. To fix these problems, you need money. But the ruling elites led by the Army will not let this happen. Through their hired media men and mullahs, these elites will continue to rule and prosper as the rest of the nation is engulfed in the stupidity of Talk or Not Talk.
|Abbas Zaidi is the author of Two and half words and other stories, published by Savvy Press, New York, and Language shift; Sociolinguistics lives of two Punjabi generations in Brunei Darussalam, published by Classic Books Lahore
Tags: Al-Qaeda, Friends of Taliban, Imran Khan, ISI, Military Establishment, Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Army, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) & Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) & Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Takfiri Deobandis & Wahhabi Salafis & Khawarij, Taliban & TTP, Terrorism