The TTP is heavily reliant on inaction from the state in order to achieve its targets, both short-term and long-term. It certainly doesn’t help when the state appears eager to accommodate and appease a self-declared anti-state element. Where once people saw the mighty state reign supreme, high above anyone’s reach, they now see the ultimate challenger seated right opposite. Those who were supposed to stand behind the state have positioned themselves in the middle of the two; swords melted and beaten by the blacksmith in the distant mountains to take the form of a seemingly impenetrable shield. And this challenger has not barged in, but affirmatively responded to an invitation. This is TTP’s single greatest achievement; to take an anti-state position while coercing the religious and political leadership into accepting it as a credible “stakeholder”. From here, it can only go from worse to worst ever unless there is a visibly radical shift in policy.
Look at the ongoing ‘peace process’. The TTP has selected members of legitimate religious parties for representation as opposed to putting its own at the forefront. The idea is to convey the unreasonable through individuals deemed reasonable by average citizens. Shahidullah Shahid is not at a disadvantage due to his lack of appearance on mainstream media. Now, he has ‘our own people’ speaking his language from their mouths. There are a few things more dangerous than an enemy with a kind face. Professor Ibrahim Khan and his colleagues serve the purpose quite well. When Mr Ibrahim submits a list of non-combatant prisoners to the government on behalf of the TTP, it is implied that he finds the claims credible, or at least, worthy of investigation. This implication, even after a very vocal denial against detainment of any such prisoners by Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and the armed forces, is overtly suggestive of dishonesty on part of the state.
A simpleminded citizen is forced to ask himself: Is my country’s patriotic army an abductor of innocent women and children only related to terrorists by blood? The TTP is not concerned with the answer, as long as people ask that question.