Maulana Abdullah Aziz, one of the two clerics who led the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, insurrection in Islamabad in 2007, and who is now a negotiator for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in current “peace talks” with the government, appeared yesterday on a Pakistani TV press conference.
Aziz, who has been acquitted several times in the past by Pakistani courts for inciting a rebellion and other various charges, is seen seated in front of three AK-47-wielding bodyguards. Apparently, appearing with gun-toting heavies is considered a good thing when conducting peace negotiations with the Pakistani government.
The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan chose Aziz and other pro-Taliban clerics to negotiate on their behalf with the government. Aziz has said the government’s demand to negotiate under the framework of the constitution is a non-starter, as the Taliban don’t recognize the document. Aziz, like the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, al Qaeda, and other jihadist groups which which he is allied, wants the government to implement sharia, or Islamic Law.
One other ironic aspect of the negotiations: representatives of the negotiators are meeting with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in North Waziristan, according to Dawn. And the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s shura, or executive council, “had already convened a meeting of its supreme Shura at an undisclosed location in North Waziristan.”
Why is that ironic? Because in 2009, as part of a “peace deal,” nonaligned Taliban groups in North and South Waziristan, such as the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar and Mullah Nazir groups, agreed not to shelter or support the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan or al Qaeda in exchange for a promise by the Pakistani military to leave their areas untouched by an army offensive. As we’ve documented numerous times here at The Long War Journal, the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar and Mullah Nazir groups never lived up to their side of the agreement, but the government and military have still given them a pass.
But wait, that’s not all. Former Interior Minister and now Senator Rehman Malik is saying that negotiations with the Taliban are illegal under the constitution. From Dawn:
“Aren’t we violating the law and the constitution by holding talks with a banned organisation? What will happen if tomorrow someone goes to the Supreme Court?” asked Mr Malik while speaking on a point of order in Senate on Friday.
He said that under Section 11 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, talks could not be held with outlawed outfits.
“Sections 11A and 11B clearly say that you can’t sit and talk with banned organisations,” he said.
Malik goes on to state that the Taliban merely use negotiations to regroup and retool, and never respect the terms of peace deals. Malik is correct. But this never stopped the government he served from negotiating with the Taliban.