One does not need to think deep and long to answer this simple question.
Of course, it is Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement that his government is in talks with a few factions of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Talks are being facilitated by the Afghan Taliban and the venue of the activity is also some unspecified venue in Afghanistan.
Why has the government ventured into the unpopular move?
Well, the prime minister says that some factions of the banned TTP are ready to lay down arms and turn themselves into the state writ, and hopefully they will reintegrate into the Pakistani society as people like you and me – just peaceful and law-abiding citizens.
We came to know about the move when Prime Minister Imran Khan shared the development in an interview with a foreign media house. The prime minister looked expressionless, emotionless and so casual when dropped the hint.
Since then, social media and TV talk shows have been on the rampage pulverizing the prime minister or making a saint out of him, depending upon their loyalty camp.
Which camp is my camp, people often ask me.
I stand in the middle of the two camps just watching the moves of either camp, I tell them. That is what every newsman should do in this world. That does not mean that I have no opinion. Just like every newsman, I want to write and analyse news stories and discuss them.
But many journalists have become news, bad news, to be precise, while writing about a sensitive issue, such as the TTP. Those fearless journalists are our heroes.
Let me share my humble opinion on the government-TTP talks and please tolerate my views, which do have ifs, and, or buts.
In politics, timing matters, and the prime minister’s choice of the time to let the secret lose begs questions.
Imran Khan has never been shy of resolving the menace of militancy and terrorism through talks. He sees the return of the Taliban to power in Kabul the victory of his stance. Why did he start off the rounds of talks with the TTP so secretly? Secrecy matters in strategic issues, but had he got the blessings of the parliament for the talks, the prime minister would have got more power in the talks behind closed doors to face those who bathed our schools, mosques and markets in blood.
We have seen such a scenario back in 2014 when the then government of Nawaz Sharif was obsessed with culling militancy through talks, and he got the parliament’s nod before starting off peace dialogues. Imran Khan appeared on the list of the TTP as one of their representatives for talks. What Imran Khan did to their offer, and what happened in ensuing developments – everything is history. By opening yet another round of talks with the TTP, and this time with secrecy, and with the connivance of the Afghan Taliban, the history is going to repeat itself with a little bit of variations.
Let’s not be bothered about how the dialogues have started; let’s be optimistic about the outcome of the dialogues.
If dialogues can bring about wonders in the arena of militancy, the prime minister should give dialogues a chance in the arena of politics too.
A few rounds of talks, nice and polite talks, with the opposition would help the government install a person of credibility in the office of the National Accountability Bureau and in the next elections, machines would watch over the polling process.
This can be possible only if the political sides start talking to each other.
Let’s come out of the era of social distancing.