Prospects of JUI-F’S APC
Mohammad Jamil
3/1/2013

 

Twith Taliban leadership. When asked about invitation to PTI and Jamaat-iIslami (JI) in APC, Maulana Fazlur Rehman replied that both parties have been invited in the JUI-F sponsored APC in Islamabad. Jamat-i-Islami (JI) Chief Munawar Hassan on Saturday announced to participate in the all parties conference convened by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) in order to discuss the peace prospect in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). He said that the tribesmen had formed a jirga and asked the political parties of the country to support them in order to initiate peace process in the tribal areas. It is however not known with whom they want the government to hold talks with, as there are many shades of Taliban divided in groups and sub-groups.

The new Governor of KhyberPakhtunkhwa had pronounced immediately after taking oath that this would be his main mission, adding that his efforts to reach out to the militants would only follow the allparties conference on the issue. The ANP also had held an all parties conference earlier in this month, and the participants were unanimous in talking peace with the TTP. In fact, the situation is a lot more complicated than it looks like. There seems to be a nexus between the Afghan Taliban and their Pakistani counterparts and their affiliated groups, which is obvious from the fact that those militants expelled from Swat have found safe haven in Kunar and Nuristan (Afghanistan). Of course, the TTP has taken advantage of the lack of unity and consensus in Pakistan’s polity on how to approach the problem of the TTP. Anyhow, despite making an offer for negotiations, its ehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has reiterated its offer to the government for peace talks, and at the same time authorized its spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan to meet Mian Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Munawwar Hasssan. In the first week of February, the TTP had offered an olive branch, but government was skeptic about the offer, given the past record of the TTP. Sober elements were asking questions whether the TTP offer should be taken seriously, as militant groups used peace agreements to regroup and strengthen them in the past. PML-N, Jamat-e-Islami, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and JUI-F demand that talks with the TTP be held sooner rather than later. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the ANP is also in favor of a peace deal with the TTP, partly or wholly because they fear violence during the election campaign. Meanwhile, Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUIF), Maulana Fazlur Rahman has convened All Parties Conference (APC) on February 28 in Islamabad to evolve consensus between different political parties for holding talks with Taliban militants.

According to the JUI-F, the participants of the APC would be informed about the declaration of tribal Jirga held under auspicious of JUI-F in December 2012 in Peshawar, and a mechanism would be devised to formally hold talks militants continue with its terrorist activities, and it is involved in attacks against Shias in Hangu and on a military check post in Lakki Marwat. Even Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is involved in Hazara killings in Quetta is reporteeldy affiliated with the TTP.

In 2007, the federal government in its earnest had accepted the peace agreement between the NWFP government and Tehrik-e-Nifiz-e-Shariat Muhammadi. The president had approved the the Nizam-i-Adl but leadership of TNSM and Pakistan Tehriki-Taliban (TTP) did not fulfill their part of agreement i.e. laying down the arms. It was therefore decided by the then government to launch military operation to stem their tide. The operation against the insurgents in the Swat Valley was launched on November 24, 2007 after they had challenged the government’s writ. Security forces had killed more than 3,500 militants and injured many others in the clashes.Around 600 soldiers were also reportedly killed in military action in Swat. About 1,900 security personnel sustained injuries in ambushes, blasts and attacks staged by the militants, officials said. Earlier, as many as 426 schools were blown up, 170 video shops were bombed, 70 barber shops were destroyed along with 130 bridges, 28 police stations and 39 basic health units in acts of violence, officials said.

In May 2009, then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had called for ‘decisive action’ to root out militants in Pakistan’s restive Swat valley, which received mixed reactions from mainstream and religious parties across the nation. The violence in Swat has forced thousands of people to flee from their homes and take refuge in makeshift camps under appalling conditions, prompting concerns over a humanitarian crisis. PML-Q leader and former Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub had welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement but maintained that the action should have been taken much earlier. PMLN and Jamat-e-Islami had said that the use of force was not the solution to the problems plaguing the tribal areas. They insisted that the recommendations of the Parliamentary committee on national security should be implemented to address the problem of militancy in the country. Anyhow, in a short span of time, military could do more than what the US, NATO and Afghan forces put together could not do inAfghanistan.

The enthusiasm of the ANP and other KP political parties for such talks may partly be owed to the experience of talking to the militants in Swat, which arguably exposed their malign intent and paved the way for an operation that uprooted them from the valley, as well as considerations of the threat to election campaigning activity from suicide bombers and other forms of attack. The federal PPP-led government has so far been ambivalent about the TTPoffer, while the military is maintaining silence. Reports say the military’s view remains that the peace offensive of the TTP should not deceive or put us off-guard, and that the likelihood of continuing military confrontation is still the most convincing scenario. Washington appears to be more concerned with the impending withdrawal of US and NATO forces fromAfghanistan, which is why it is ready for a power sharing arrangement in Kabul that would ensure a smooth exit for the western forces, and prevent a new civil war after.