President Arif Alvi has suggested that the Pakistani government could consider giving an amnesty to those members of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who have not remained involved in “criminal activities” and who lay down their weapons and agree to adhere to the Pakistani Constitution. In an interview, he said the Taliban have conveyed to Pakistan that they would declare that members of the banned TTP can live in Afghanistan but they must not do any activity against Pakistan. The issue of general amnesty has assumed relevance after its success in neighbouring Afghanistan where the Taliban announced to pardon all those who commit to live in peace in the country.
From one perspective, what the President said should not be so controversial. Rehabilitation of extremists has always been a policy employed by many countries, even the United States. Deradicalisation, instead of confrontation, is a goal that will ultimately lead to the end of violent extremism, and thus should be an aim that should be strived for. However, in the context of the TTP, which was the perpetrator of the APS attacks, and is still instigating attacks like the suicide blast in Quetta, a careless throwaway statement on “general amnesty” on television is not the way to go about it. The situation is getting increasingly volatile; it cannot be expected by anyone that this offer by the President will ever be taken seriously by the stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the National Command Authority meeting on Tuesday decried the deteriorating force balance in the region, while the apex committee, while reviewing the internal security situation noted the need to implement the National Action Plan (NAP). A fine job of doing that seems to be being done in allowing the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to field 84 candidates in the Cantonment Board elections being held today. There has obviously been a short-circuit somewhere in the system, for the TLP not just engaged in a movement against the government, which led to national paralysis, deaths and injuries, and an announcement of a ban on the TLP.
If the TLP was banned, its ticket should have led to disqualifications, rather than pleas that the needed letter had not been written to the Election Commission, as had been done. It wants to ensure that the TTP, which has clearly indicated that it will go on fighting national institutions, and the TLP, which has a record of resisting civil law enforcing agencies, are dealt with leniently, even while there are pious wishes expressed about establishing moves against terror. The lesson is clear, though unfortunate: there is freedom to maim, even kill, and spread havoc, so long as one does not oppose the government, no matter how peaceful he means used.