Pakistan Begins Peace Talks with Taliban

St. Scholastica's Student Newspaper
The Cable
Photo credit to latimes.com

Photo credit to latimes.com

By Ellen Hansen ehansen6@css.edu

"The violence may finally come to cease."

For decades, there has been an insurgency waging on within Pakistan's borders. Thousands of innocents have lost their lives as a result of this dispute between the militant group known as the "Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan" and the Pakistani government. Ever since this violent revolt began in 2007, people across the globe have been crossing their fingers and praying for peace. Now, it seems, the nation might be headed in that tender direction.

The first formal meeting between the Pakistani government and a Taliban-nominated group was held earlier this month in Islamabad. During this meeting, both sides acknowledged their disdain toward the violence that has occurred in recent times and expressed a desire to achieve peace.

At the end of the three-hour session, a leader from the Taliban-nominated team, Maulana Sami ul-Haq, read out a joint statement. This statement outlined five main conditions set by the government that are to remain constant throughout the remainder of the peace talks: The talks must be held in accordance with the Pakistani constitution, they should center only on areas affected by violence, all hostilities should cease while they are in progress, they should not be protracted, and the Taliban must clarify the role of a separate nine-member committee they have put together. The Taliban-nominated group promised to bring the conditions that have been laid out to their leaders and report back to the Pakistani government as quickly as possible.

Despite the tremendous amount of hope this discussion has instilled in many, there is a large number of people who question the ability of these talks to be successful. The BBC journalist Shahzeb Jillani, for example, has observed that many citizens of Pakistan are deeply concerned that the government's willingness to negotiate with the Taliban is a sign of weakness rather than one of strength. Another concern of many is that the talks will actually give the extremist group the time to build their strength and regroup. A lot of this skepticism is warranted, too, as all previous attempts of the government to engage in a peaceful dialogue with the Taliban have ended in failure.

Though many are led to criticize these talks, the Pakistani government has a deep desire to make a peaceful attempt at suppressing the inquisition before resorting to more violent measures. The chief negotiator on the side of the government commented on the meeting, saying "Today, we started the journey for peace, and both sides have agreed to complete it as soon as possible."

Despite the questionable ability of these talks to prove successful, hope continues to reign. Perhaps the progress of this discussion will end the violent retaliation of the Taliban and save the lives of thousands to come. When it comes down to it, people are going to rage onward with the views that were instilled upon them in their youth. With any luck, the leaders of the extremist group in question will find a less violent way to support their lifelong beliefs and put an end to their militant, seven-year dissent.