Sharif’s move

Pakistan’s next Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called for peace talks with the Taliban militants who are at war with the outgoing government in Islamabad. It is a new stand and is likely to cause a confrontation between him and the Pakistan Army. Sharif considers terrorism to be the worst threat to the country and thinks that talks with the Pakistan Taliban would be a move in the right direction. Guns are not a solution to all problems, he feels. The Pakistan Taliban have been waging a bloody insurgency against the government for years. Thousands of people have been killed. The militants claim that their fight is to enforce Islamic law in the country and end the alliance with the US. The Pakistan Army has failed to tackle them on the north-western border. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had been taking a tough line on this issue. He wants those who have taken up arms against the nation to return to the nation.

Sharif’s peace move is at odds with Kayani’s way of thinking. There is fear in the country that the new government may give in to the militants’ demands threatening human rights, especially those of women. Previous peace initiatives taken by Islamabad had proved abortive. The Taliban militants are game for peace talks with a devout Muslim like Nawaz Sharif. His party had not supported a crackdown on them in its stronghold in Punjab. If Sharif decides on peace talks, the Pakistan Taliban would declare a ceasefire. This development may bring stability to the country. But the international outlook will turn gloomy with Pakistan getting close to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The US and India will take a dim view of it.

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