According to tribesmen, the rulers are not interested in ending the war as this is the only source of income for them. They have again entered into talks with the militants in tribal areas. Reports said that the government has decided to form a "grand jirga" to work out a peace agreement with tribal leaders in Waziristan. Among the chiefs the administration plans to negotiate with is Baitullah Mehsud.
"The demand of initiating a peace process was made by the Mehsuds, who are on the run after being crushed by the security forces in Waziristan," he added.
The minister told Dawn the resilience of the security forces had forced the militants to retreat. "Definitely there should be a stage when the militant groups are bound under an agreement that they would not become a threat to the country and its people."
He said in Waziristan, Fata and Swat, the government had broken the back of militants. "They are on the run now."
The interior minister said the jirga would consist of representatives from all tribes, including Mehsud, and political leaders, who would act as guarantors if an agreement were clinched.
He said the tribals had entered into a number of peace agreements in the past, but they violated them.
An editorial of Dawn accused the ex-generals of Pakistan of creating terrorists in the country. Mirza Aslam Beg's views about the freedom struggle in Kashmir and his recipe for the territory's liberation deserve to be taken note of, for they come from a retired general who played a leading role in Pakistan's Afghan and Kashmir policies. Even though an elected government had come to power in November 1988, it was President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Mirza Aslam Beg as army chief who called the shots in foreign policy matters and succeeded through manipulative politics to sideline Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. It goes without saying that the Kashmiri uprising following rigged elections in 1987 had an indigenous character. It attracted world attention and drew the sympathy of freedom-loving people because it was a spontaneous reaction to an election that India had rigged to foist a puppet regime on the people of Kashmir. Till then, Islamabad's policy had been to give moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmir people's struggle. However, the induction of jihadi organisations in both Kashmir and Afghanistan with full support from the ISI transformed the situation to the disadvantage of the people of Kashmir. From then on, the world media would speak of terrorism from across the LoC rather than the freedom struggle in Kashmir.
The patronage of the militant organisations had disastrous consequences for Pakistan, for they became a government within a government. In Afghanistan, even after the Soviets pulled out, the ISI-supported Taliban captured the country after a protracted civil war whose ultimate victims were the Afghan people. Today, the remnants of those Taliban have turned Swat and Fata into battle zones, having inflicted on the army casualties which run into thousands. Now Mirza Aslam Beg would like to boost the jihadi organisations and in the process help Taliban terrorists kill Pakistani civilians and soldiers of the same army whose chief he once was.
The lot that gathered in Rawalpindi at Tuesday's seminar, held by the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen's Society on Kashmir Day, have nothing to their credit. Their conscience did not rebel when the men in khaki shred the Constitution, jailed or hanged prime ministers, flogged dissidents and gagged the media. Mirza Aslam Beg especially mouthed some outlandish ideas: he spoke of the 'strategic defiance' of America by Iraq in the run-up to the first Gulf War and then sent troops to Saudi Arabia for Gen Schwarzkopf's benefit. He also had no qualms of conscience about shamelessly pressuring the judiciary and perverting the electoral process by distributing Rs140m to his favourite parties to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad to defeat the PPP in the 1990 election. The terror that stalks Pakistan today owes its birth in no small measure to the ex-ISI chiefs who were there at the Rawalpindi meeting. The least good these retired generals can do is to keep quiet. Their criticism of another retired general, President Pervez Musharraf, may be justified, but that does not make them heroes. It is amazing to note that what has stirred these men is not any love for principles but a spirit of vengeance against President Musharraf, who had some truth to say about his community.