Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US Drone strike and his death should be seen as a major victory for those fighting against the militant group, but strangely, that is not the case.
Government of Pakistan has been planning ‘peace talks’ with the Taliban for several months in an attempt to eliminate terrorist attacks in the country. It would be interesting to see what turn the Pakistan-Taliban talks will take after Mehsud’s death.
A few Pakistani politicians see Mehsud’s death as a setback. Rather than breathing a sigh of relief, prominent leaders such as the interior minister are condemning the attack that killed him and have declared their intentions to raise the matter at international forums including the United Nations.
“The government of Pakistan does not see this drone attack as an attack on an individual but as an attack on the peace process,”said the country’s interior minister.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, whose party rules the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, went as far as calling the strike a ‘sabotage,’ and announced his intent to move towards blocking NATO supplies.
“The Taliban held only one condition for the peace talks and that was that drone attacks must end. But just before the talks began we saw this sabotage take place,” he said.
Religious political parties, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) supported Imran Khan’s call to block NATO supplies.
So who was Hakimullah Mehsud?
Hakimullah Mehsud rose from the lower ranks of the Taliban to a prominent leader as he was known for his courage and other militant activity. His capture of 300 Pakistani soldiers made him a hero in the terrorist world and not many were surprised when he was chosen as the leader of the TTP after an American drone strike killed Baitullah Mehsud in 2009.
How Does His Death Affect the Peace Talks?
The TTP have waged a six-year war against the Pakistani state, which has left thousands dead. Saying that the Taliban were unhappy over Mehsud’s death would be a gross understatement. A Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq, vowed that his group would take revenge, "Every drop of Hakimullah's blood will turn into a suicide bomber," he declared. "America and their friends shouldn't be happy because we will take revenge for our martyr's blood."
Yes, Haikmullah’s death has put a damper on the possibilities of talks. The question is; were talks ever possible?
History has not shown the Taliban to be men of talk, they prefer action. The chances of them coming to the negotiating table are few, especially as they see Pakistan as the enemy for its cooperation with the U.S. government.
The challenges that the Pakistani government faces are not only multifaceted, but also have dire implications for the country’s internal security.
Now, with the Taliban bent upon avenging their leader’s death, things are not likely to improve.
Talks, under these circumstances are, if not impossible, then most likely to be futile. One wonders if ‘talks’ and ‘negotiations’ even mean anything to people like the Taliban - who have clearly marked their enemies and their objective is to rid the world of these ‘infidels’.
Pakistan has harbored these militants for a long time and some in the country continue to have a soft spot for the Taliban. Perhaps it’s because the group claims to fight for Islam, the predominant religion in Pakistan.
Even if the talks with the Taliban take place and Talibanization miraculously disappears from Pakistan, there are still some hardcore extremist elements that remain in the country. This leaves Pakistan with a herculean challenge – a side-effect of the close proximity it shares with its enemies.