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Imran Khan, Pakistan, War on terror

To mediate or not to mediate

Imran Khan greeting supporters at LahoreThe Taliban are reported to have named Imran Khan as part of their five man mediation team. From what I understand, this group (which includes four leaders from religious parties) will be intermediaries between the government negotiations committee and the nine-man ‘siyasi’ team being set up by the Taliban.

Besides all the orgasmic “told you so” and “Imran Khan is Taliban!” ecstasy on social media, which deserves to be ignored, there is an intense debate about how he should respond. As usual, what Imran will do has captured the national attention much more so than anything the Prime Minister or his cabinet are saying.

As with everything else, there are pluses and minuses, whichever way he chooses to go.

On the positive side, Imran’s participation will add transparency and be a counter-weight to the extreme right voices of the committee. He may even be able to play a role in keeping both parties true to the spirit of genuine, meaningful negotiations.

On the other hand, the Taliban clearly don’t trust the intelligence agencies to meet the official government committee directly. Hence the mediation team. As such, the mediation role is essentially that of a messenger, with no authority to commit from either side. And as the committee has been nominated by the Taliban, it will be portrayed as “their team” by our right wing liberals. (I can’t think of a better description for these torch-bearers of secular moderation.)

On balance, I’m of the view that Imran should take this as an opportunity to firmly align with the State and distance himself from the right wing corner that he’s being painted into. As an opposition leader, his job is to stay close to government policy, comment on the flaws he sees, provide alternatives where needed and support when deserved. That’s where he can add real value, not in a glorified messenger role.

In any case, the government’s will to ensure a successful peace process was clearly reflected in statements by Rana Sanaullah and the early part of the Prime Minister’s speech when he finally appeared in parliament. Add that to deeper foreign policy and civil-military relationship issues underlying this situation, any role that doesn’t bring with it some decision-making authority will not be meaningful.


About Ahmer Murad

Husband, father of two boys, financial manager in the pharmaceutical industry, Liverpool fan, Karachiite. Humanity, peace & justice.


One thought on “To mediate or not to mediate

  1. Fully agree – I wrote on my blog about the lessons to learn from Northern Ireland conflict
    For Peace talks to emerge successfully – some leaders have to take the lead BUT that means POLITICAL SUICIDE as a certain level of mistrust and propagandists on both sides will use them as a scape goat for any hiccups along the way – and be ready to expect MANY hiccups
    “In Northern Ireland Adams and McGuinness risked not just their political careers but their lives in leading their movement into a peace the movement would not have accepted at the beginning of the process; David Trimble and John Hume both sacrificed their political parties and their careers in order to achieve peace; Ian Paisley, having contributed to the start of the Troubles, decided after a close encounter with his maker in 2004 that he wanted to end his life as Dr Yes rather than Dr No; John Major stood to gain nothing politically from starting a peace process in Northern Ireland and yet decided to do so; and the fact that the British and Irish Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, were willing and able to work seamlessly together for a decade made peace possible.
    Without political leaders prepared to take risks there will be no peace. More than that there needs to be political momentum to achieve peace”


    Posted by Awab Alvi | February 3, 2014, 6:30 pm

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