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Pakistan: If talks could kill

by Shandana Minhas, 7 January 2013

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The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2013

by Shandana Minhas

Now that the tide of public opinion seems to be turning against them, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their ilk have decided to go on a charm offensive. Their grip on charm is tenuous at the best of times — they shot a schoolgirl in the head recently and seemed genuinely befuddled by why more people did not see that as a positive move — still, they are trying. Just this past week, militants pulled a four-year-old boy out of a van before slaughtering the seven people inside, six of them women, five of them teachers, one perhaps, the boy’s mother? And, in another incident, militants abducted six soldiers but let the sweeper with them go. The sweeper was probably very relieved. The TTP kidnapped 22 Levies Force personnel last week. They killed them all, except for one. He got away, to die later in a hospital from his injuries. Anyway, the point is, to sweeten the lure to talk, the TTP has decided to go on a charm offensive by temporarily indulging in discriminatory slaughter as opposed to indiscriminate slaughter.

Any notion of talking to these worshippers of violence should then presumably be a no-brainer, a non-starter. At heart, they are child killers, psychopaths, delusional murderous scum. They look at women and girls and see whores and whores-in-waiting, which makes you wonder if they have accidentally stumbled across some porn. Repeatedly. Over the course of several years. You cannot trust them in Legoland or construction because their only talent seems to be breaking what others build. The sheen of ‘holy warriors’ dissipated a while ago, the ‘sons of our soil’ title crumbled when the tattooed Uzbek former gangster thing happened, mullahs from all over have been falling over each other recently to declare them ‘non-Muslim’…

Even Gulbuddin Hekmatyar doesn’t like them.

However, in Pakistan, the idea of talking to the TTP is not a non-starter. Some people, amongst our politicians, anchors, gilded magpies, educated middle classes, are discussing it. They are trying not to engage directly with the many talking points contained in the TTP’s terms for a truce — changing the Constitution and enforcing Sharia among them — because that would require them to think long term, and have already moved past their demonstrated refusal to reciprocate by disarming. “Baat karnay main kya harj hai yaar. We won’t talk to the ones who kill anyway, we’ll talk to the other ones.” Which other ones? The ones who cook? We’ll talk to the TTP’s beras? Shall we send Rehman Malik’s bawarchi?

How else to explain this lunacy but as a leap of faith? Are we so compassionate, so versed in the Sunnah of empathy that we will afford murderers the benefit of doubt? Shall we approach them with understanding? “Yes, you only killed my children because of the drone attacks; yes you blew up hundreds of schools before Ishq-e-Mamnoo gave you something to do in the evenings.” Shall we listen to their grievances? “Yes we are working to sign an agreement with Google so you are once again able to post videos of yourselves beheading non-combatants on Youtube.” And then, after the TTP has bought themselves another year in the spotlight and we have paid with another thousand lives for it, shall we be surprised by how it all turned out to be a ruse? “Haw hai,” we might say to each other, our eyebrows making for the moon, “they just don’t make murderous, Pakistan-loathing scum like they used to.”

In the imaginary referendum to see how many Pakistanis want to talk to the TTP as they are and how many want them disarmed and destroyed, tried and convicted, before handing them a biscuit and engaging them in small talk, please put my name in the second column. And speaking of columns, opinion pieces, that’s all this one was; my opinion on possible peace talks conveyed to my elected representatives, as they dither witlessly before a non-starter. I cannot call and tell them how I feel because I don’t have their direct numbers.

And even if I did, I may not be able to as cell phone networks would probably be shut down for the umpteenth time because of terrorist threats.


The above article from The Tribune is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use