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Pak Meltdown

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Pakistan is struggling to keep its head above water, both, politically and economically. Its latest deal with the Tehreeq-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has come under fire even from the most pro-Imran Khan analysts of that country. They have derided the argument that there was no option but to hold talks, declare a month long ‘ceasefire’, release TTP men in custody and negotiate peace. The other option, the analysts feel, was to eliminate a force that has killed thousands of Pakistani security personnel and civilians over the years. The latest revelation is that, while PM Khan favoured the hard option, it was the Pakistan Army that chickened out.

These are just some of the ripples that the Afghanistan situation is spreading across the region. Even as the Taliban struggle to secure their hold over the country, Pakistan is hoping that they would be able to broker its deal with the TTP. This is at a time when fundamentalist forces are on a high after defeating the powerful US and in no mood to compromise. It may be noted that it is the TTP that is making all the demands, which Pakistan is conceding for not even assurances in return.

All of this is taking place in the backdrop of a severe economic crisis in the region. Matters could spiral out of control in Afghanistan if ways are not found to channel international aid where it is needed. The rampaging inflation in Pakistan has further deepened its existing fiscal crisis. Its traditional sponsors China and Saudi Arabia are asking for more than the metaphoric pound of flesh to provide succour. The general public is realising that all this has come about because of the completely pointless animosity of the political establishment towards India. There is despair that, perhaps, the process has reached a point of no return.

Forgetting that only a while ago it had described the force as India’s paid killers, Pakistan’s demand now is that the TTP lay down its arms and join the political mainstream. Its leaders and cadre would be granted amnesty in return. This is a repeat of the earlier understanding arrived at with the banned Tehriq-e-Labaiq, another fundamentalist movement. The Pakistan establishment is thus conceding space to radicals merely to earn some breathing space. Analysts argue that this will only encourage other such groups to make similar demands. Like Afghanistan was not so long ago, Pakistan’s writ in the not so distant future may become limited to just the national capital. And like the British in Mughal times, neo-colonial China is watching.