News India Times – that’s all you need to know Opinion News India Times November 26, 2021 4 P akistani Prime Minister Imran Khan seems more willing to talk to terrorists blamed for killing thou- sands of Pakistanis, including security personnel and schoolchildren, than sit down with his politi- cal opposition. He was absent from a five-hour, closed-door special meeting of the parliamentary committee on national security on Monday because he probably didn’t want to shake hands with his nonviolent rivals. Why is he digging a big hole for himself? Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, the director general Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have informed parliamentarians from the government and the opposition that the new Tali- ban regime in Afghanistan was facilitating talks with the banned group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The top military officials told parliamentarians before Aug. 15 that the Afghan Taliban and TTP were not listening to them and that they were the same sides of one coin. What changed after the Taliban takeover of Kabul? Many ques- tions were asked to Bajwa but he was not able to answer clearly. Most parliamentarians were tight lipped after the meeting, but they confirmed that all major opposition parties except the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) rejected talks with banned outfits. The TTP announced a month- long cease-fire with Pakistan within minutes of the security briefing and another religious group, Tehrik-e- Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), called off a protest the same day. When Khan was in the opposition, he supported the TLP. When he came into power, his government imposed a ban on the TLP in April 2021, citing a terrorism law. Within six months, he surrendered to the TLP and re- moved the ban, notification of which was issued on Nov. 7. TLP leaders have been involved in murder cases and killings of police officials. After reaching an agreement with the government, TLP leaders are getting freedom orders from courts. This agreement is putting a question mark on the rule of law in Pakistan. Other groups are now demanding the same treatment from the state. A leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) threatened that if the ban on his organization were not lifted, then he would be compelled to call for protests, as did the TLP. This is a clear sign that accommodating one group will encourage others. They can blackmail the government like the TLP did and, ultimately, the state will lose its writ. Just a few months ago, Pakistan failed to come out of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force’s “grey list.” One of the reasons was because Pakistan never prosecuted a group of U.N.-designated terrorists. Now, any agreement with the TTP and TLP could be seen as a deviation from the assurances given by Pakistan on many international forums. Some parliamentarians asked Ba- jwa why, if these deals are necessary for bringing peace in Pakistan, is Ali Wazir, a member of the parliament, being treated differently?Wazir has been behind bars since De- cember for making a critical speech about the army. He never killed any soldier. There is amnesty for the killers but why no mercy forWazir? If the law is not applied equally to all citizens, how can we expect stability? The Pakistani state signed many agreements with the TTP in the past, but there were no positive results. This is the seventh time that the Pakistani state is trying to make a such a deal. Pakistani authorities also made several deals with the TLP. Both groups have different backgrounds, but the TTP extended its full sup- port to the TLP in April. Whenever the TTP or TLP broke agreements, they were declared Indian agents by govern- ment ministers. Now, these same ministers are coming up with arguments to justify deals with those who were labeled Indian agents in the recent past. Who lied then? There is no open debate. Khan is treating parliament as a rubber stamp. He is playing with the morale of the secu- rity forces. A nuclear state is looking helpless in the face of some groups, but showing its muscle to nonviolent politicians such asWazir. Some opposition lawmakers told me that Khan always supported the TTP and TLP in the past and that he is planning to use those groups against them in the coming elections. Ruling leaders of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf are openly talking about the possibility of an alliance with the TLP in the coming election. That is why opposition parties are uniting and have begun holding antigovern- ment rallies. Khan is determined to secure a second term at any cost. Bajwa may also like to extend his term; Hameed seems to want to succeed him. But soon, the generals won’t be able to coexist. The prime minister may choose between Bajwa and Hameed, but he has no choice be- tween law and lawlessness. If Khan is willing to accom- modate lawbreakers, then he is inviting economic sanctions and troubles for his people. He is digging a hole not just for himself, but for his country. Hamid Mir is a contributing columnist for the Global Opinions section focused on Pakistani politics and geopolitical issues in the region. -Special To TheWashington Post By Hamid Mir TheWashington Post Imran Khan Needs To Build BridgesWithHis Political Opposition, NotWith Violent Groups Imran Intends To Unleash N-Arms, But Taliban Tend To Bite Him F eelers from Kabul suggest, that the emboldened Taliban fighters, for whom capturing of power in Afghanistan had been a cakewalk, now confidently feel that their next target would be to occupy Pakistan. According to the reports, the Taliban fighters’ enthu- siasm has shot up as they have established a caretaker government of their own with the Islamic Sharia law in Afghanistan. But they believe it is only a beginning, but the fight will continue with an aim to establish jihad in the whole world. The immediate priority now for them appears to be to establish jihad and impose Islamic Sharia law in Pakistan. They are of the view that Pakistan is not fully Islamic now and does not fully follow the Sharia law. They also think, if need be, that the army hardware left behind by the US army in Afghanistan could come handy. However, at present Pakistan has earned a dubious distinction of being an epicenter of the world terrorism, for having har- bored at least 10 terrorist groups, including the Taliban and al Qaeda. For the Taliban, scruples and loyalty are the last words and, if it warrants, they would not hesitate to wage an armed fight against Pakistan though all along Pakistan has been hoping that the Taliban would be helpful and friendly, should there be another war against India. Per- haps with that prime intention only, Pakistan is harboring militant and terrorist groups. Indications are that for the Taliban fighters, who have been itching for the spread of Islamic law and jihad, Paki- stan seems an easy prey. The Taliban fighters, it is stated, are even ready for employing suicide terror attacks if that serves their objective. If the immediate step for the Taliban is to capture power in Pakistan, it signals a trouble for India, which is already facing Pak’s cross-border excesses for over 60 years. According to CNN’s breaking news on October 12, al Qaeda threatens India saying “Kashmir is ours.” It says: “A terror group named al Qaeda released an 18-minute- long video and claimed authority over Kashmir.” If this is true, it is an open indication that al Qaeda would lend its supporting hand to Pakistan in a war against India. It may be recalled that notorious terrorist leader like Osama-bin-Laden, the founder of pan-Islamic militant organization, was given a shelter by Pakistan. Bin Laden was finally killed by the US Navy Seals in a surprise raid on his fortress-like hideout, which was just a few miles away from the Pak Presidential Palace. Pakistan also provides shelter to known anti-social elements, who are terrorism financers. They include Dawood Ibrahim and some other money launders and drug mafia. Pakistan, which has lost three wars against India, yet keeps on fomenting trouble by clandestinely sending armed militants across the border to India. They are play- ing havoc in Kashmir perennially. Currently Pak-trained terrorists are targeting selectively Hindus and Sikhs by launching a series of armed attacks in Kashmir. Pakistan is deeply infatuated and drunk with untenable greed and ambition to annex Kashmir. With that intention, Pakistan has befriended China, another trouble-making neighbor of India. At every international forum, Pakistan leaders and its successive prime ministers have been raising the Kashmir issue blaming India for human rights violation. After the recent success in Afghanistan of the Tali- ban, its staunch supporter, Pakistan, has become bold. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27 hint- ed at devastating consequences if his country unleashes nuclear arms in desperation against India. He said: “….This is one of the most critical times … there will be a reaction to this. Pakistan will be blamed. Two nuclear armed countries (Pakistan and India) come face-to-face like we came in February. And my belief is la ilaha illallah there is no god but one. And we will fight. And when nuclear-armed country fights to end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders. It will have consequence for the world, which is why I repeat, I am here. Because I am warning you, it is not a threat, it is a fair worry that where are we heading.” In a fitting reply, India represented by its envoy Vidisha Maitra, said: “Prime Minister Imran Khan’s threat of unleashing nuclear devastation qualifies as brinkman- ship, not statesmanship. Even coming from the leader of a country that has monopolized the entire value chain of the industry of terrorism, Prime Minister Khan’s justifica- tion of terrorism was brazen and incendiary. For some- one who was a cricketer, and believed in gentleman’s game, today’s speech bordered on crudeness of a variety reminiscent of the guns of ‘Darra Adam Khel’.” Throughout his whole speech, he spewed venom of hatred and unleashed threat of n-arms, but he received a fitting slap on face by the Indian diplomat, exposing him of his hallow threats. If Imran Khan feels that the Taliban are behind him in his nuclear fight against India, he is thoroughly mistaken. He should read the mindset of the Taliban, which is aim- ing, as a next step, at snatching away power from him. The snake he is feeding with milk is planning to bite him. As a good neighbor, India also cautions him of the threat lurking behind. If the Taliban take their “next step,” Pakistan will become another Afghanistan -- an abandoned state. But India wants a flourishing friendly neighbor and not a burrow of militants and terrorists. J.V. Lakshmana Rao is a veteran journalist and former Editor of India Tribune in Chicago. By J.V. Lakshmana Rao