Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, will pursue talks with the Taliban despite the recent escalation in attacks and threats being made by the ultra-conservative group. According to Mr. Sharif, however, the next round of negotiations may be the last attempt to resolve issues “peacefully.” While Mr. Sharif did not elaborate on that threat, it’s possible that he might give the greenlight for a full-scale military campaign against the Taliban.
With terrorist attacks on the rise in Pakistan, and increasing pressure from international actors, such as the United States, to bring the situation under control, Mr. Sharif is finding himself in an increasingly difficult situation. Some within Pakistan, however are accusing Mr. Sharif of appeasing the terrorist organization. Following the peace talks announcement, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party reiterated the need to take military action against the organization.
Taliban may not be receptive to peace talks
Despite Prime Minister Sharif’s offer of the olive branch, the Taliban may not even be willing to come to the negotiating table. After Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed last November in drone strikes carried out by the United States, the Taliban has vowed revenge. Mullah Fazlullah, who now leads Pakistan’s Taliban organization, has previously refused to negotiate.
A recent report found that terrorist attacks have been surging in Pakistan. Various terrorist groups carried out at least 1,717 attacks in Pakistan, claiming the lives of some 2,451 people and injuring 5,438 other people. The Taliban carried out 645 of these terrorist attacks, claiming the lives of some 732 civilians and an additional 425 security personnel.
Pakistan’s PM coming under pressure
With attacks mounting, the government and Prime Minister have come under increasing pressure to bring the situation under control. Many Pakistani citizens are now questioning whether the government has the power and ability to provide security within the country. The Prime Minister now appears to be ready to fully confront the issue.
Mr. Sharif has appointed a four member negotiating team to meet with Talibani officials to try and work out a cease fire or peace deal. No time table has yet been announced, and the Prime Minister did not announce any tough preconditions that might discourage the Taliban from cooperating.
Talibani spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid welcomed the move and claimed that the organization is ready for serious negotiations. The Taliban’s leader in the Punjab province, Asmatullah Muawiya also indicated that he was ready to go to the negotiating table. Some speculate that divisions may be growing between those leaders who want to continue to fight, and those interested in negotiating.