After the retirement of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary, television channels were short of breaking news and were desperately in search to break the news. The viewers too were sick and tired of bland news routine. The fragility of the news had a small recess but the prayers of the news breakers were heard and the prime time of all the news channels is now overwhelmingly occupied with the news of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their Shariah. From the perspective of news hungry TV channels, TTP deserves a standing ovation for providing news every now and then.
The federal government backed by all wing political parties, is once again in intimate relation with TTP for begging peace. Under the garb of negotiations, TTP is taking turns and twists playing Tom and Jerry with the state.
The love saga of peace talks shows the state on a weaker side. TTP, despite an unflinching record of heinous crimes, takes the lead in making demands while the government stands bewitched with a confused impression.
The negotiations having no legitimate foundation are ultimately going to meet the same fate that it used to in past. The talks that are supposed to bring peace are simultaneously coupled with bombs blasts from TTP, implicitly showing their non-seriousness and volatile attitude.
Let’s examine whether the government is justified in talking peace with TTP; it surely is not. The lofty ideals such as rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution have been kept in coffer which is glued with the tag “Keep it away from the reach of TTP and their sympathizers”.
The Constitution of Pakistan being supreme law declares private armies functioning as a military organization to be illegal. TTP’s use of illegal force for occupying territory of Pakistan is equivalent to functioning as military organization, hence falling within the constitutional definition of unlawful militia.
Numerous provisions of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 (ATA) and amendments made therein, specifically declare TTP and its connecting factions, either directly or indirectly, as proscribed organizations.
Thus, government has been trying to hold peace talks with an organization which has been expressly declared outlawed.
The committee formed by the federal government to negotiate peace with TTP also lacks the legal backing for the reason it does not have the mandate to determine modalities to forgive and forget the mass killings carried out by TTP. Only the families of the deceased have right to pardon the killer; not a four members committee constituted for achieving personal and political gains.
And the faceless committee structured by TTP hitherto a group of likeminded people themselves having extremist opinions with particular sect based religious affiliation. Non-inclusion of any actual TTP member in their committee signals that TTP does not give a damn to what government calls peace. TTP must have laughed out loud for playing tricks with their and government formed committees.
The demeanor of government representatives while talking of TTP is such as if TTP is above suspicion and has not done anything to the detriment of Pakistan. This indicates a swift endorsement of the TTP narrative; a narrative that gives no importance to laws of the land, the killing of hundreds of thousands innocent people in the name of crusade against infidels, and suppression of traditional culture for spreading fear among the masses.
The hide and seek between TTP and the government is likely to continue for good long time but as starter TTP has tabled their prime demand that is to impose their brand of Shariah in Pakistan as condition precedent. TTP itself contradicts the very demand of Shariah since it had threatened the government of Pakistan not to execute their commanders who had been awarded death penalty in murder cases. Doesn’t Shariah principle require the punishment of eye for an eye? They want to implement Shariah on the whole of Pakistan but not on their own men found guilty of killing innocent civilians.
The Shariah has been a part and parcel of the legal scheme of Pakistan since the Constitution incorporates Islam as the state religion. The Constitution declares that no law shall be enacted against the injunctions of Islam. It also ensures strict observance of principles enunciated by Islam. The policy guidelines contained in the constitution direct the state to eliminate Riba (interest) and ask the Muslims to lead Islamic way of life.
Apart from constitution, Pakistan Penal Code is filled with punishments that are suggested by Islam including Qisas (equal retaliation for murder), Diyat (pardon by the heirs of deceased in lieu of amount mentioned in the law) and a lengthy list of countless kinds of punishments related to bodily harm.
Through not according to Islam but part of TTP envisioned Shariah is already imposed in Pakistan in the shape of discriminatory laws such as Hudood and blasphemy laws. That makes TTP’s demand of imposing Shariah infructuous. The Shariah that TTP wants is based on compulsion which is absolutely against the spirit of Quran and Sunnah and the principles of Islamic jurisprudence.
Peace talks shall not be engrossed with TTP wishes and whims only. The state being stronger than TTP must show its strength, let’s say by demanding the TTP to pay diyat amount for every single Pakistani they killed as a precondition. In order to give legitimacy to the talks, amendments in the Constitution as well other laws including ATA are required — which is neither possible nor practicable. Therefore, in case of failure of negotiations, most favorable option would be to launch full-fledged action subject to blockade of escape routes of TTP i.e. through Afghan border.