By Shaheen Buneri
While talks are in progress with Pakistani Taliban a powerful bomb explodes in Mardan- home town of Amir Haider Khan Hoti, the newly elected Chief Minister of North West Frontier Province (NWFP)-killing three policemen and injuring 15 more.
Moulvi Omer, Spokesman for Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban Movement) tells reporters in Peshawar that Taliban have avenged the murder of their commander Hafiz Saeed-ul-Haq who was killed in a police encounter a few months back.
"The bomb attack will not affect the ongoing peace process. We have just avenged the murder of our commander. Earlier the government did not care for the ceasefire and killed our colleague, this time we are repeating the same", he explained.
This is the psyche that prevails among senior Taliban leadership who wants to establish their writ at all costs. They have sent a clear cut message to Pakistani establishment that talks can only be made on equal basis and that they can retaliate any time they want with more strength and liberty than the government.
Experts believe that Taliban have established a parallel government not only in Pakistan tribal areas but also in settled districts of Swat, Mardan and Peshawar, the three big towns and commercial centers of the province.
Even a day earlier Baitullah Mehsud, Chief of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and dreaded Taliban commander from Waziristan tribal agency issued directives to his militants to refrain from attacks on security personnel and government buildings in honour of the ongoing peace talks between Pakistan authorities and local Taliban leadership.
What does it mean? Has Baitullah Mehsod lost control of the movement? Abdullah, spokesman of local Taliban explains this point very well by saying that "Baitullah Mehsud has directed us to refrain from attacks but if the authorities takes action against any one in the Tehrik during ceasefire they should avenge it", he told BBC reporter in Peshawar.
Rahmanullah, a local journalist reporting on NWFP conflict areas believe that Baitullah Mehsud is in full control of the movement but President Parvez Musharraf government pro-US policies has created a wide gulp between Pakistan establishment and leadership of militant organizations. "The wounds will take time to heal. The newly elected government may be sincere in its efforts for peace building but Taliban are still suspicious about government pro-peace policies", he elaborated.
Incidents and events on either side affect situation on both sides of the Durand Line, international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. On April 23, 2008 US choppers and war planes violated Pakistan air space and killed a dozen militants and personnel of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in aerial bombardment in Bajaur Tribal Agency.
Locals believe that most often when NATO Forces attack Pakistan tribal areas security personnel in either part of the country have to bear the brunt of this as it is very easy for militants to attack them. "Personally I believe that unless attacks are halted from across the border peace talks can not yield any fruitful results", Karim Khan, a resident of Mardan told this scribe.
The Frontier government released Maulana Sufi Muhammad, chief of banned Movement for the enforcement of Shariah commonly known as Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-Muhammadi (TNSM) from prison with the hope that the militant leader and his supporter will shun violence and contribute to the peace process. But still violence is in full swing in Swat valley as a day after his release unidentified militants killed Union Council Nazim Muhammad Hussain along with two others in Kabal area of Swat district.
Usman Khan, a political analyst belonging to Swat district says that thousands of Sufi Muhammad supporters had joined different militant organizations.
"Even Maulana Fazlullah, a militant leader and son in law of Maulana Sufi Muhammad is not ready to obey Sufi Muhammad orders. He has established his own militant organization with the active support of former TNSM followers. I don't think that Sufi Muhammad release can deliver any goods", he added.
Moreover foreign militants in the folds of local Taliban may not be ready to support peace talks with the new Pakistan government as some of them have a universal agenda and are quite suspicious about Pakistan government bond with the United States.
Brigadier ®Mehmod Shah, former secretary of Pakistan Tribal Areas says that peace talks can not restore peace unless foreign elements in Pakistan Tehrik Taliban are completely eradicated.
No doubt US is the main factor in both the success and failures of talks between Taliban and Pakistan authorities. Many believe that US may not accept peace deal with Taliban as it frustrates Bush Administration multi-billion war against terror.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Moulvi Omer also says that they are ready even to talk to the United States but they can not ensure to stop infiltration into Afghanistan unless the US forces are there.
On the face of paper NWFP settled districts are separated from Pakistan tribal areas but people living in both the regions share centuries old ethnic, linguistic and religious values and traditions. TTP too has extended its branches to the settled districts. Therefore Frontier's government peace rhetoric of bringing militants to table talks and convincing them to surrender may not succeed until the same procedure is bifurcated by the federal government in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). But the problem is the same again-Who will convince the US to stop bombing tribal areas?