Rulers of Pakistan must stop this drama being played in the name of war on terror and take serious action against terrorists. No one in tribal areas will support talks with the militants. I am also a tribesman living in Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border. I shall never support talks with militants, who are involved in acts of terrorism in tribal areas. They are threat to the whole world. All the peace-loving tribesmen will never support talks with militants. They fully support the US stand that all the criminals must be arrested and brought to the court of law if there is any.
Dawn editorial discussed the situation in tribal areas. FATA is emerging as a ground zero as mixed signals come from Washington and Islamabad on the NWFP government's initiative to strike peace deals with the militants. The US has been wary of such accords because of their history; militants have used the agreements signed with the military in recent years to bide time, regroup and continue their terrorist activities, of which Pakistan too has borne the brunt of late. The argument advanced by the Frontier government that the proposed peace deals will succeed this time round because they are being underwritten by an elected government as opposed to the earlier agreements signed with the military, and which were not backed by public mandate, can only be sustained if all concerned are on board. This is hardly the case. Washington and Kabul aside, even Islamabad has not extended its unconditional support to the Frontier government's engagement with the militants. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has been heard on occasion parroting the line the Americans want to hear: no compromise with the militants. Thus, mystery surrounds the issue: the ANP-led government is talking to the militants; the PPP does not have a clear stance on the matter; the US and Nato keep carrying out bombing raids on Taliban/Al Qaeda targets inside Fata; and Kabul has been assailing what it calls Pakistan's policy of 'appeasing the Taliban'.
Where does one go from here? It is clear that to make any sense of the confusing agendas being pursued by the various players involved, a comprehensive policy will have to be devised by the PPP-led government so as to have one voice for Pakistan in dealing with the issue. It is equally important, then, to put that policy on the table and discuss it with the global allies in the war against terrorism. It will be simplistic on the part of the Frontier government to assume that it can strike peace deals with the militants to keep its house in order. Recent attacks in Frontier towns and villages say otherwise. If such subversive activities continue to take place in Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan, and if American strikes continue in Fata, even as talks are being held with the militants, any accord(s) signed with the militants will be doomed to failure.
The ball is clearly in the PPP's court. This time round, it would do better to evolve its policy on Fata based on consultations with the ANP, the JUI-F and even the PML-N. One says this because Prime Minister Gilani's announcement, soon after he took oath of office, hurriedly annulling the Frontier Crimes Regulation was objected to by both the ANP and the JUI-F - two major stakeholders in the Frontier. The need is to activate the parliamentary committee mechanism to deal with such issues rather than wait for individual party leaders to give their assent or dissent on important national matters. Let democracy work where autocratic measures have failed to deliver the goods.