In recent media interviews, representatives of both the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban have signaled willingness to engage in peace talks with the other side. In an email interview, Sadika Hameed, a fellow at the Program on Crisis, Conflict and Cooperation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explained the prospects for the talks.
WPR: What are the factional interests—on the part of the national and provincial governments, the militants and others—in holding peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban?
Sadika Hameed: Many political parties campaigned in the elections held in May on the basis of talks with the Pakistani Taliban, formally known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). In fact, talks were prominent in the campaigns of Imran Khan’s PTI party and, to a lesser extent, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N. Religious parties like the Jamaat-e-Islaami and to a lesser extent the JUI are also pushing for talks. Much of the impetus for these talks is linked to anti-Americanism, which is widespread. While Pakistanis wish to see an end to terrorism, the public does not have the appetite for a war against the TTP. Proponents of talks claim that those who oppose negotiations must necessarily be pro-American, though this is obviously not the case.