Pakistan ready for peace with the Taliban?

This report from The Express Tribune on the Pakistani government opening negotiations with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is the first I’ve seen in the press. I’ve heard rumors of this from US military and non-military intelligence officials, and it does seem to fit with other related news reports.

Pakistan has started peace talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and other militant groups across the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), in anticipation of early withdrawal of Nato troops from Afghanistan, informed sources told The Express Tribune.

The move is a critical step in transition to full Afghan control by the end of 2014, announced by US President Obama at a Nato summit in Lisbon last year.

The initial talks were opened up with the TTP, and its affiliated militants, prior to the recent wave of terrorist attacks across Pakistan, sources said.

“Both sides, at the moment, are putting up their respective demands and their terms and conditions to bring an end to militancy in Fata and other regions of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” sources added.

The authorities, however, have made it clear to the TTP and others that no role of al Qaeda is to be accepted at any level in these negotiations, sources said, adding that “some tribal elders from Pakistani territory are mediating between security high-ups and leaders of the TTP and other militant outfits.”

The report goes on to note that the Pakistani government has stopped supporting the anti-Taliban tribal lashkars (militias), and this fits with what we’ve seen from the Matani lashkar, which was recently hit with a devastating suicide attack.

Also, note the government’s reaction to the March 17 Predator strike in Datta Khel in North Waziristan. The condemnation of the strike and the refusal to recognize that Taliban fighters and a commander were killed may have been designed to lash out at the US and soothe the Pakistani street, but the government’s reaction may also be a signal to the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan that it is prepared to reconcile.

The Pakistani military and government have a long history of cutting peace deals with the Taliban. Several are in effect right now, most notably the deals with Hafiz Gul Bahadar in North Waziristan and Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan. Prior deals, such as the one with Mullah Fazlullah and Sufi Mohammed in Swat, led to the Taliban advancing to within 60 miles of Islamabad. Each “peace deal” included a promise by the local Taliban and tribes to not shelter foreign terror groups. And each time, the tribes and the Taliban blatantly ignored the provision.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • I’m afraid Paki is preparing for US with drawl from Afghan by a truce with the Taliban to send them into Afghan, Paki has placed all the pressure they
    can on US to end drone attacks in the Sanctuarys Paki has for Afghan Taliban, including holding Davis.
    “Pakistani government has stopped supporting the anti-Taliban tribal lashkars (militias)” also
    fits in with my hypothesis.
    Paki, ISI and the Taliban are mending fences and getting tight, in anticipation of US pulling out of Afghan, as ISI will be sending Taliban into Afghan.
    “not shelter foreign terror groups” Wink Wink, nod nod.
    TTP was run by Paki Mil personnel in the Attack on Mumbai.
    Nothing I’ve seen contradicts that paradigm.

  • Grim says:

    I believe that the definition of insanity is something to the effect of the doing the same things over and over while expecting a different result. Although it is not very surprising that the Pakistani Government is doing this, I just cannot figure out why our government does not force them to break the cycle. We have so much leverage on Pakistan with our funding yet we always seem to be negotiating from a position of weakness. Getting our contractor back was a good example of this. It simply makes me sick to my stomach that our government is not made of sterner stuff. Peace deals will continue to be made and the enemy will not honor them. They have yet to abide by one so why should future ones be any different? Decision makers need to learn from their lessons because things are probably going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The War on Terrorism will never go away so wouldn’t it be a nice thing if we were always winning?

  • Neonmeat says:

    It seems to me the Lashkars have been asking for Military and Logistcal help from the Pak Gov for ages, perhaps if the Gov had actually done this they wouldn’t be in this position now.
    Personally I think the various militias fighting the Taliban for ISAF and Pakistan need to be recognised and helped, if the Taliban are allowed to take civic/military control of the fata areas even more and the lashkars are totally abandoned by the Gov I dread to think what the Talibans revenge against them will be.

  • bard207 says:

    Is Pakistan negotiating with the TTP or directly with the Foreign Hand that many Pakistanis think fund – control – direct the TTP?

    Pak intelligence, top cops see “foreign hand ” behind Lahore, Karachi suicide attacks

    During background interviews, intelligence sources
    and top police investigators said some foreign forces were openly funding terrorist organisations, including the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), to destabilise nuclear-armed Pakistan as the security forces were at war to flush out militants from its soil.
    ‘We see some foreign hand behind the terrible blast in which innocent people have been martyred. Some foreign forces are financing and supporting the terrorists to destabilise the country’, The Nation quoted Lahore police chief Aslam Tareen, as saying.
    Some religious elements were playing in the hands of Pakistan’s enemies in the name of Islam, said Tareen, adding that the terror strikes could be a backlash to the ongoing war on terror.

  • Charu says:

    I guess that they didn’t learn anything from the gruesome deaths of their previous intermediaries, Colonel Imam and Khalid Khawaja. Like Grim said, the very definition of insanity!
    The Pakistani military has been so used to successfully co-opting… well, essentially creating and running jihadi groups to destabilize south Asia for their delusional goals, that it is inconceivable to them that their Frankenstein monsters would have their own agenda or even turn against their creator.
    It is just a matter of time before the Taliban takes down the corrupt landlord-military nexus that has driven this state into failure and ruin, and these self-serving elites will scurry for safety to their villas and mansions in Dubai or London. And no one will ever be safe again once the Taliban get their hands on nuclear materials for dirty bombs. This is why it is imperative that the Taliban be decisively defeated on both sides of the Durand line and the Pakistani military defanged while they still have some control over their nukes; and why this needs to be a global allied effort similar in magnitude to the alliance during WWII

  • Bungo says:

    I’ve always said that my fight was never with ANY of the Taliban groups per se. They can have Afghanistan AND Pakistan and chop off every head in the place as far as I’m concerned. They are a losing proposition and time will eventually put them in the ash bin of history. My fight is with Al Queda who are safe havened by the Taliban AND Pak ISI. That is where the “rubber is going to have to meet the road” in any negotiations. The Talibs are going to have to walk the razor’s edge if they want to negotiate a truce AND not throw their “brethren in blood”, the throat cutting AQs, under the bus. I don’t see how they can do it, but, then again, they DO have time on their side.

  • Brian says:

    Do as Metallica says ” Kill Them ALL!” Get out of Pakistan, they clearly are NOT our ally. Why we are paying these people to play double games with us is simply ridiculous. We need to just send waves of drones and target anything remotely resembling any militant faction or ISI. Civilians causalities be damned, the only civilians being killed are the ones helping the Taliban, Al Qeada, ISI, and other terrorists groups. The Political Correctness needs to stop if we are going to succeed in this war. I’m pretty confident that pro-American sentiment within Pakistan as a whole is gone, and anti-American militancy is about 90% of the country anyways. So why should we bother with what the Pakistani street thinks? We already know they all hate us and support the Taliban and other terrorists groups against us. Enough is enough, get out of this sink hole of human wretchedness and do like we did in WWII. This is a battle for the futures of the world, why the hell are we fighting it with BOTH hands tied behind our back?
    Send the message VERY clearly… “the gloves are OFF!”

  • IanJ says:

    What I don’t understand is Pakistan supports groups that continually turns their guns on the Pakistan government and people. Rather than expunging these militant elements they broker deals which eventually create an unease about the power of the civilian government and the capability of the ISI and military to maintain control of the Taliban. If the US were to pull out, Pakistan is now going to be in a mess as brokering deals that have constantly been rescinded has empowered the TTP’s position even more than catching them in a pincer in what is Pashtunistan between NATO forces in Afghanistan and Pakistans military in the tribal areas. Double dealing only works until one backs out, if thats one of your chief financiers you have to be sure you have the loyalty of your other partner, but then how loyal is a hungry dog? Especially when you have been responsible for violence against that entity…
    The peace-deals can only be upheld and breaking of the deals tolerated for so long before autonomous groups have to be crushed or recognised as a legitimate part of the establishment, its that or failure to maintain sovereignty over Pashtunistan (and even Baluchistan) and cutting it fine to saving chunks of Pakistans heartland.
    Very dangerous game to be playing considering the difficulties former colonies have had in Africa for instance rife with tribal and dictatorial civil wars through the last century as a result of becoming failed states. How much longer can this continue before one side has enough be it the US or the TTP.


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