To discuss or to not discuss to TTP


Naveed Hussain


Design: Ibrahim Yahya

October 24, 2021


Prime Minister Imran Khan just lately dropped a coverage bombshell. That his authorities is reaching out to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in a renewed push to persuade the proscribed group to surrender violence probably in return for amnesty for its members from legal prosecution. The discuss of amnesty sparked a frenzied debate within the media. And the consensus of opinion was overwhelmingly in opposition to “negotiating with terrorists”. Understandably so! The argument is easy: negotiating with terrorists is akin to legitimising them and incentivising using violence for a political change in a liberal democracy. This debate was pushed by the “righteous anger” at a “morally wrong” determination and therefore provided little mild for policymakers. Critics of the non-violent technique additionally say that not everyone within the group is likely to be amenable to talks. And this might result in fragmentation or splitting inside the group. If that happens, then the hardliners may unleash extra lethal violence. They declare that negotiated settlements of terror conflicts are sometimes fragile and prone to vicissitudes. This leaves using navy means as the one potent technique to cope with terrorist or rebel teams.

But this technique runs the danger of being counterproductive. Terrorists may use it to win sympathies, radicalise the “reconcilables” of their ranks, and enlist new recruits. Negotiations, quite the opposite, can steer the battle away from violence, even when for a restricted time interval. This technique might provide the teams a chance to voice their grievances, which might, in flip, additional soften the “reconcilables”. The fear of legitimation shouldn’t forestall states and governments from negotiating with violent teams as a result of this might assist cut back violence, assuage the sensation of alienation, reverse, or no less than halt, radicalisation, and wean their members off violence. On the opposite hand, de-legitimising violent teams as “terrorists” would solely shrink their choices of turning into something however terrorists.

The use of kidnappings, bombings, and wanton violence in opposition to civilian inhabitants defines a bunch as terrorist as a result of the rule of typical conflict prohibits deliberate use of such techniques in fight. Some students hesitate to make use of the label terrorist for any group as a result of, they imagine, it might change techniques anytime. “No one was born a terrorist. People change. Movements adopting terrorism also change. Terrorism is a tactic not a defining characteristic,” says Prof. Mark Juergensmeyer, Interim Director, Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. “So of course, it is useful to talk with those adopting this tactic to understand their perspective. Only then can one effectively respond to them and perhaps ameliorate the conditions that led to the adoption of this tactic in the first place,” he tells The Express Tribune.

Once a bunch is formally designated as terrorist, negotiating with it turns into extra controversial – and understandably so. “But slaughter and desolation are no longer considered acceptable strategies,” says Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Adviser to the President of RAND Corporation. “Governments offer negotiations for practical reasons – mostly because they cannot suppress the group or the movement with means that are considered acceptable. The ancient Romans could, as Tacitus wrote, ‘make a wasteland and call it peace’.”

A non-violent finish to a violent marketing campaign might not be the target when governments provoke negotiations with a bunch. “Governments may enter negotiations to lower the level of violence or create divisions in the enemy’s ranks. There is an inequality inherent in this. Insurgents/terrorists have power primarily due to the continued violence — without violence, they may have little power, and even may fall apart. They know this and therefore are reluctant to give up the fight,” says Jenkins, who has authored quite a few books, reviews, and articles on terrorism-related matters.

Now, right here’s the catch. “Governments want to reduce violence. Terrorists see negotiations as a continuation of the armed struggle. Governments see negotiations as an alternative to continued conflict,” Jenkins tells The Express Tribune. But this is also was a boon. “The governments may use negotiations to shift responsibility for the continuing conflict clearly to their foes and thereby justify the implementation of harsher measures.”

Given the asymmetry in expectations, Jenkins cautions that “government negotiators must avoid becoming too dedicated to making a deal. Bad deals are easy to get. Armed contests may last decades.” Negotiations might take a few years. Negotiations require much more strategic planning than navy operations. The Irish Republican Army (IRA)’s terror marketing campaign lasted 29 years; Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) protracted its lethal marketing campaign for 37 years; the Communist insurgents in Guatemala and Peru fought for 36 years; and Basque separatism plagued Spain for greater than half a century.

The employment of navy means in counterterrorism has been inherently controversial as a result of the technique is fraught with the danger of inflicting collateral injury. Take for instance Sri Lanka, the place widespread human rights abuses had been reported throughout the navy’s decisive push to quell Asia’s longest insurgency in 2009. It is the state which, in such conditions, turns into responsible of use of disproportionate power.

“The ‘fighting fire with fire’ approach to terrorism seldom works. If a movement sees the world through the lens of cosmic war, it is often actually energised by the militant attempts to subdue it, and its own militancy becomes even more fierce,” says Juergensmeyer, who’s considered a number one skilled on spiritual violence, battle decision, and South Asian faith and politics.

“I just finished a book on how terrorist movement ends, ‘When God Stops Fighting: How Religious Violence Ends’, and I conclude that most movements either collapse from within due to infighting and disorganisation, or they come to the realisation that their tactics are counterproductive and they switch course,” he says whereas referring to his ebook which relies on three case research: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Khalistan motion in India, and the Moro motion within the Philippines. “They [violent movements] are seldom destroyed solely by military force, though sometimes military force is the coup de grace that finally ends them.”

But Jenkins, a number one authority on terrorism and complicated crimes, believes every scenario is exclusive, and one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. According to him, governments have interaction terrorists in negotiations solely when they’re satisfied that the violent marketing campaign could possibly be put out no different method. They are unlikely to open negotiations in the event that they had been in a position to suppress the terrorists with police measures or navy power.

“Terrorist groups have been effectively suppressed without dialogue — Italy’s Red Brigades, Germany’s Red Army Faction, the many little terrorist groups that were active in the United States were eliminated by police measures without dialogue,” says Jenkins to substantiate the purpose. But that doesn’t imply using navy power must be the popular technique. “The British government ultimately entered a political dialogue with the IRA and Spain entered a political dialogue with ETA. Colombia entered negotiations with FARC. Guatemala and El Salvador ultimately entered into negotiations with guerrillas (who also used terrorist tactics).”

There is a notion that for these nations with terrorists inside their borders, negotiation is a necessity quite than an choice. Take Algeria for instance the place the federal government negotiated with the Armed Islamic Group (GIA); or Somalia, the place the federal government brought about a cut up in al-Shabab by weaning off the “reconcilables”. But Juergensmeyer, who has revealed thirty books on spiritual violence-related matters, says negotiation is all the time acceptable as a result of an all-out assault can backfire with much more violence in response. “This is the mistake made by Indira Gandhi in authorising troops to battle Bhindranwale in Operation Bluestar. She paid for it with her life,” he provides.

Juergensmeyer believes negotiations “can effectively separate those within a group willing to talk and those who are not. It may not always work with all members of a militant group, however, especially if the militants have a cosmic war view of the world and regard the government as a satanic force of evil,” he says. “In such a case a third party may be able to intercede.”

Jenkins agrees that negotiations could be a technique of fracturing a motion. “[In religiously-motivated violent groups], there are irreconcilables determined to continue a struggle they believe is mandated by God. There also may be more pragmatic elements who would prefer not to spend the rest of their lives at war. Negotiations could sharpen these differences,” says Jenkins, who had additionally served as adviser to the US National Commission on Terrorism from 1999 to 2000. “But the differences also mean that complete peace may not be achieved. There will be no deal that is satisfactory to all of the factions. The hardliners will continue the struggle.”

In his ebook ‘Terror in the Mind of God’, Juergensmeyer factors out that faith supplies motivation, justification and channels of recruitment that few secular actions have. Moreover, spiritual traditions have the highly effective picture of cosmic conflict — the existential battle between proper and improper, good and evil — that’s typically central within the pondering of the activists in religious-related terrorist actions.

Jenkins believes such teams are tough to barter with in comparison with secular, separatist and ideological terrorists. “Groups that believe they are acting on God’s instructions are difficult to deal with — they do not concern themselves with mortal constituencies. Compromise is viewed as apostasy.”

Juergensmeyer doesn’t agree. “Any group can be so entrenched in a ‘we-they’ view of the world that it resists dialogue and change. When a group is weary of bloodshed and ready to seek a resolution it can change, regardless of whether religion is involved. A good example is the peace agreement in Northern Ireland after years of blood.”

Some specialists say that there’s a threat that the non-violent technique may backfire and create extra radical and violent factions inside teams, making it even more durable for governments to cope with them. According to Juergensmeyer, negotiation all the time entails fragments of a bunch concerned in terrorism. “In other words you start talking with any element that will be willing to talk. This is what happened in the Northern Ireland agreement; hardliners bitterly opposed the peace talks, but eventually they won out. The same happened with the Moro movement in the Philippines; Abu Sayyaf is still resisting, but the main movement has negotiated successfully with the government for a new Muslim majority region, Bangsamoro.”

Jenkins agrees that fragmentation is inevitable as a result of there’s unlikely to be any deal that satisfies a whole group. “Even today, more than 20 years after the Good Friday agreements that ‘ended’ the IRA terrorist campaign, there are small successor groups that continue the armed struggle,” he says. “Following the withdrawal of British forces from all but the six counties of Northern Ireland in 1921, a civil war broke out in the new Irish Republic. It is possible that those who accept a negotiated settlement could become allies of the government in efforts to protect themselves by attacking those still at large.”

Defence and safety analyst Maj Gen (retd) Inamul Haq believes splits might make counterterrorism simpler, particularly within the context of TTP which, he says, just isn’t a monolithic group. “It is an umbrella of small outfits having different objectives and motivations. In splitting, you deal with each faction locally, sanitize and pacify the area in which it operates, and move to other areas. That is how you expand terror-free zones,” he tells The Express Tribune. Like Jenkins, Inam additionally believes {that a} deal won’t fulfill a whole group and a whole ceasefire might stay elusive as a result of hardliners might interpret the deal to their benefit.

Some counter-terrorism specialists imagine a navy victory is near-impossible in opposition to a bunch – particularly when it’s invisible, has no territory, no inhabitants to defend, and has no infrastructure. Not essentially, says Jenkins who, nonetheless, provides that the price of such a victory could possibly be huge in blood and treasure.

“Governments have defeated clandestine groups that have no territory, no population to protect, and no infrastructure. To do so with solely military means has often required ruthless suppression, forced mass internal migrations — the Russians forcibly deported millions to Siberia, and other unacceptable methods,” he says.

“However, governments have also successfully defeated insurgents without resorting to brutal repressive techniques, using combinations of police and military activities informed by accurate intelligence, political and economic programs, and other efforts that have isolated the terrorists from their potential constituencies,” he says. “It can take decades”, although. There isn’t any components for coping with terror campaigns. Strategy is outlined by the scenario and the terrain.

The 20-year lengthy insurgency in Afghanistan has ended following a peace deal between the Taliban and the United States. The US and its allies pulled out their troops in return for an assurance from the Taliban that they might change their medieval methods and deny using Afghan soil by terrorist teams for assaults anyplace on the earth. Surprisingly, the Afghan safety forces collapsed with the exit of international forces providing the Taliban a simple walkover.

Now, fears abound that the bewildering rapidity with which the Taliban have taken over Afghanistan is likely to be seen as a vindication of ‘jihad’ in every single place. Perhaps to forestall this, Pakistan, which has already reported an uptick in terrorist violence for the reason that fall of Kabul, has determined to have interaction the TTP in negotiation earlier than it might regroup for a renewed terror marketing campaign.

“The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan will undoubtedly inspire and strengthen the resolve of jihadists fighting elsewhere in the world. It is a victory over a superpower, proof that God is on their side,” says Jenkins. “It may also have particular material benefits for the TTP, which may be able to more easily use Afghanistan as a sanctuary and potential base for support.” However, he believes it will depend upon the federal government of Pakistan skill to steer the Afghan Taliban to not help the TTP or enable the group to make use of Afghanistan as a base.

Juergensmeyer sees the autumn of Kabul by means of a distinct lens. “The victory of the Afghan Taliban also means that now the movement has the hard task of governing not just opposing, and by necessity this means a certain amount of compromise and realistic assessments,” he says.

Inam, in the meantime, doesn’t see the TTP benefiting from the Taliban ascendancy in Afghanistan as a result of he believes the group is a “bunch of criminals and thugs” with no ideological motivation. “When it was formed, the TTP’s raison d’être was to help the Afghan Taliban drive out foreign forces and then by extension fight the Pakistan military which was siding with the Americans,” he says.

“Now that the foreign troops have exited Afghanistan, if the TTP protracts its deadly campaign, its criminal face which was exposed after the 2014 APS attack will become more exposed. We have been saying all along that the TTP is a bunch of thugs and criminals who don’t subscribe to any ideology,” he says whereas referring to the lethal rampage on the military-run faculty in Peshawar through which nearly 150 pupils and instructing employees had been massacred.

The Pakistani authorities is claimed to be contemplating amnesty for the TTP – a move Juergensmeyer calls “a calculated risk”. “By giving amnesty to some of the TTP, the hope is that they will become more responsible and moderate as well. We’ll see if that is the case,” he says however goes on so as to add: “Whether amnesty will help depends on whether the government has the strong sense that this will change the group and make them responsible citizens. One of the main things that enables a group to change is hope — the sense that there is an alternative life for them aside from guerilla fighting.”

Jenkins, nonetheless, believes amnesties are all the time tough in negotiations with teams which have used terrorist techniques in opposition to civilian populations — kidnappings, bombings, murders. In typical conflict, troopers on each side are “privileged combatants,” permitted to violate bizarre legal guidelines with out legal prosecution, however they have to abide by the rules of conflict, which prohibit intentionally attacking civilian populations, holding hostages, and different techniques, which terrorists make use of.

The TTP, he says, actually has used terrorist techniques and has been appropriately designated to be a terrorist organisation by plenty of nations in addition to by the United Nations, though the UN doesn’t have an official record of terrorist teams.

“The actions of terrorists are intended to create fear and alarm, which they do, but they also create enormous anger, which does not dissipate. As a prerequisite to negotiations, terrorists may demand amnesty, which arouses the wrath of the people whose families have been their victims,” he says. “Even when amnesties are agreed to, and the conflict is formally ended, private parties may seek vengeance against the former terrorists.”

Inam cautions that the phrase amnesty shouldn’t be used “loosely or incorrectly” as a result of he believes the TTP couldn’t be given blanket immunity. The authorities move is likely to be geared toward discovering a negotiated settlement or non-violent finish to the TTP’s lethal marketing campaign, he says. “Amnesty could be but not necessarily would be an outcome after the negotiated settlement. I would not go into the technical nitty-gritty of negotiated settlement.”

Before the mainstreaming of the erstwhile tribal areas, native tribes had a collective duty underneath a nineteenth century legislation handy over to the federal government anybody accused of anti-state offences. That set of legal guidelines, often called Frontier Crimes Regulations, has been abolished after the tribal areas had been merged with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Nonetheless adjudication of disputes might nonetheless be finished on the idea of native customs and Islamic shariah in these tribal districts.

“If the local customs or Islamic shariah state that a person accused by the government is criminal, then those with pardonable offenses will be reintegrated in society, while those guilty of heinous crimes will be dealt with accordingly. And those who are reintegrated are given amnesty on the condition the tribe they belong to becomes their guarantor,” explains Inam, who has written extensively on the dynamics of militancy within the area.

The authorities determination to barter with the TTP and the discuss of amnesty has upset the households of APS victims. Juergensmeyer says it’s comprehensible for households of victims to resent any overtures or concessions to the militants. “The government should reach out to them in advance of such talks and give them the assurance that this is for the larger good of preventing more terrorism, and more loss of innocent life in the future.”

Jenkins and Inam agree with Juergensmeyer.

“A government entering into negotiations with groups that have used terrorist tactics must be aware that this is a delicate and difficult issue and continually listen to and address the understandable concerns of the families,” says Jenkins. “Popular opposition to amnesties has derailed peace negotiations.”

Inam says the response of the trauma-stricken households of APS victims is pure. But he doesn’t assume the federal government would ever provide normal amnesty to the TTP. “This doesn’t mean the perpetrators of heinous crimes would be allowed to go Scot-free. They will have to be held accountable for their crimes – either through force, or through shariah, or through law of the land,” he says. “Not everyone could be or would be reintegrated in society.”

The Pakistani navy has carried out a collection of operations to purge the areas alongside the border with Afghanistan of militants. Intelligence-based operations proceed to remove the “residual/latent threat of terrorism” and consolidate the beneficial properties of earlier offensives.

Inam, the retired normal who has served in these border areas, says that combating and speaking on the identical time has all the time been the federal government’s technique. Before the founding of TTP by Baitullah Mehsud in 2007, the federal government had negotiated with numerous teams. “In the past, we talked to Baitullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Nek Muhammad and negotiated peace deals in 2004, 2005 and 2006 which were basically for ceasefire and cessation of hostilities,” says Inam whereas referring to the commanders of militant factions who had been largely killed later in US drone strikes.

He believes sweeping generalisation of militancy in Pakistan’s bordering districts as religiously-motivated terrorism is improper. “The TTP faction in Kurram and Orakzai districts is ideologically closer to al Qaeda. Militants in Khyber are thugs and criminals. TTP’s Swat faction was motivated by a desire for Islamic Shariah in Malakand,” he says. “The Mehsuds and the Wazirs [in North and South Waziristan] and TTP’s Bajaur faction were unhappy with the use of Pakistan’s soil against Afghanistan.” Since the TTP is an assortment of teams with various targets, Inam says its chain of command just isn’t as sturdy as Afghan Taliban’s.

In the TTP, there are irreconcilables decided to struggle on, however there may be pragmatic parts keen to dwell a standard life. If the federal government offers in to the righteous anger, offers up on a non-violent resolution, and employs navy means, then it can lose the reconcilables and ignite extra violence, maybe deadlier than earlier than. But negotiated peace just isn’t simple to come back by. Negotiating with a non-monolithic group pursuing completely different targets could possibly be difficult and treacherous. So, authorities negotiators shouldn’t rush for a deal as a result of a foul deal could possibly be worse than no deal.

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