The Pakistani Taliban have put forward a set of proposals for negotiations through their nominees (shown in photo). Will the Pakistan government respond positively or unleash its media dogs to discredit it without even looking at the proposals? Some points may not be workable but others should be seriously considered if the government wants to bring an end to the chaos that has engulfed the country.
Sunday February 09, 2014, 18:17 EST
As soon as the Taliban’s 15-point draft for negotiations was announced, the secularists in Pakistan started to scream that they want to “impose” Shariah in the country. “The Taliban are coming,” they warned darkly.
Two members of the Taliban-nominated team—Professor Ibrahim Khan and Maulana Yousuf Shah (representing Maulan Samiul Haq)—had flown to Miranshah to meet the Taliban Shura and brief them about their discussions with the government appointed committee. The Taliban Shura met on Saturday (February 08) under its deputy Ameer Sheikh Khalid Haqqani to formulate their response to the government.
The 15 points on the Taliban list are:
Of all the points—and some may not even be workable such as end to riba-based economic and financial system—the demand for implementation of the Shariah has irked the secularists the most. They are also furious that the Taliban say they do not recognize the Constitution of Pakistan.
Amid all the media-generated hysteria, the Ameer (chief) of the Jamaat-e Islami Syed Munawar Hasan tried to calm fears when he pointed out that nobody should be worried about the demand for implementation of the Shariah. He said the 1973 Constitution already declares the noble Qur’an and the Sunnah as the supreme law of the land.
The Jamaat chief said the issue of Shariah would form the core part of the ongoing talks between the government and the Tehrik-i Taliban. “Look, there was no formal announcement by the Taliban about not accepting the Constitution or about enforcement of Shariah in the country.
“An issue is being created on the basis of assumptions by those who don’t want to see the ongoing negotiations to succeed. The media should play a responsible role and avoid giving space (and time) to those creating an issue on the basis of [unfounded] assumptions,” he said.
Earlier, Syed Munawar Hasan reminded journalists and other secular elements that the Constitution clearly stipulates that no law repugnant to the Qur’an and the Sunnah would be enforced in the country.
He said Shariah was not something to be scared of. Demanding its implementation was neither new nor unconstitutional. “Shariah is simply the divine law for the guidance and betterment of humanity,” he stated.
Munawar Hasan said those who were accusing the TTP of violating the Constitution had themselves been violating it for the past 66 years in one form or another.
“Those crying hoarse for democracy neither allowed democracy to flourish nor allowed the democratic institutions to be strengthened. The military dictators ridiculed both the Constitution and the judiciary,” he said.
Among the Taliban’s demands, ending the drone strikes while admirable and desirable, may not be easily implemented at least insofar as the Pakistani government is concerned. It has periodically made noises about stopping the drone strikes but the guilty party—the US—does not take the slightest notice of it.
It is also not quite clear what the Taliban mean by handing security duties to “local forces.” Who or what constitutes local forces? Similarly, an end to the riba-based system is admirable but in the current global environment it is unworkable.
Perhaps they have in mind banks operating on the basis of offering interest-free accounts as was done during General Ziaul Haq’s rule. This is mere window dressing. Ending riba will require a much more sophisticated system that is simply impossible under the present financial conditions.
In any case, the Taliban have now put forward their demands and these should be discussed with an open mind to see what is workable and what is not.
If the government is serious about ending the crisis in Pakistan, then it has an opportunity to do so. The Taliban demands are not absolute and can form the basis of negotiations.