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Peace agreements elsewhere – Journal


The state is in talks with the TTP for a deal and its critics have been told that such deals have taken place all over the world and that the Northern Ireland peace deal known as the Good Friday Agreement is among the examples cited.

The Good Friday Accord signed in 1998 ended the decades-long conflict in which British forces and their Protestant “Unionist / Loyalist” paramilitary allies deployed against the pro-Unification Catholic Provisional Irish Republican Army committed to end British rule over any part of Ireland.

The second example cited would be that of the Basque separatist group ETA which fought for more than four decades for the creation of an independent homeland in northern Spain and south-eastern France, but their military / terrorist activities were limited to Spain.

While the IRA campaign enjoyed tremendous support in the Catholic community of Northern Ireland and was sparked by years of discrimination, ETA support after Franco’s exit began to wane and the group has announced a number of ceasefires over the years.

Pakistan can learn from global examples of agreements with militant groups.

Franco’s dictatorial regime, where all power came from him and his small coterie in Madrid, fueled the separatist movement in the Basque Country that straddles the Franco-Spanish border, as even their centuries-old language has been banned from the public sphere. So much so that schools could not teach Basque.

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With Franco’s exit in the mid-1970s, a more relaxed and democratic order replacing the dictatorship led to a decline in support for militant activities, but even during its worst period popular support for ETA remained between 12 and 20 %.

The blow to ETA came from the amendment of a French law of the Franco-French era in the 1980s which did not allow the extradition to Spain of people accused of crimes there, for free trials were then impossible. Now ETA members could and were extradited to Spain. This sparked an internal debate within ETA over abandoning its violent campaign.

Finally, the negotiations ordered by the government of Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero with the moderate element of the political leadership of ETA during its first term from 2004 isolated the extremists and the group announced a ceasefire. – total and “ultimate” fire in 2011, a month before the Prime Minister left the government.

During ETA’s many decades of violence, the total death toll rose to some 800. These were mainly security officials and ETA members. ETA’s bombing campaign in mainland Spain never targeted civilians as such.

In one of the most serious incidents of 1987, 21 people were killed in the bombing of a Hipercor supermarket in Barcelona for which ETA claimed to have issued a coded warning, but police did not managed to evacuate buyers. Police said the warning came too late.

The IRA has more or less followed the same pattern. During the unrest in Northern Ireland for seven decades, some 3,000 people lost their lives, but the vast majority of those victims were mostly paramilitaries belonging to rival Protestant Unionist / Loyalist groups on the one hand and Republican / Catholic nationalist members of the IRA on the other hand.

There were, of course, a smaller number of casualties among the security forces. The deaths on both sides also included those deemed “traitors” or informants by the various paramilitary groups and who had been executed.

The IRA had set up a coded alert system like the ETA to prevent civilian casualties. One of the deadliest IRA bombings on the continent took place when the Conservative Party’s annual conference in 1984 was targeted at a Brighton hotel with the aim of assassinating Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The peace agreements with these two terrorist groups included a verified decommissioning of weapons that was certified by impartial and neutral observers. Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA, has so far enjoyed enormous support within the Catholic community of Northern Ireland and was part of the government elected after the Good Friday Agreement.

Unlike these two groups which have been officially classified as terrorist entities and have mostly avoided civilian casualties, the two main South Asian terrorist entities, the TTP in Pakistan and the LTTE, have slaughtered thousands of civilians during their violent campaigns.

Unlike the TTP, the LTTE had legitimate political grievances after suffering discrimination from the Sinhala majority community for years, but even when it had the opportunity to negotiate a peaceful end to the conflict, its leader Prabhakaran chose a violent final chapter for himself and thousands of his die-hard followers.

The Sri Lankan conflict claimed some 100,000 lives, mostly civilians, but that number included 27,000 LTTE members, including women and child soldiers, who died fighting massively against Colombo’s army in the north of the country. Jaffna Peninsula or as suicide bombers across the country.

Ultimately, the conflict ended after the Sri Lankan army overwhelmed the LTTE, but this victory was marred by documented cases of rape, torture, officially sanctioned imprisonment and 20,000 officially recognized Tamils. missing and presumed dead.

The campaign of indiscriminate and bloody bombing throughout Pakistan, in addition to the TTP slaughter in former tribal areas, need not be recalled as it is a recent experience. The TTP did not have and does not have a minimum of legitimate cause for its murderous campaign outside of an extremist and violent ideology.

Therefore, any negotiation with her is fraught with dangers as their only political agenda is to uphold their brand of Sharia rule not only in the former tribal areas, but throughout Pakistan. And we still have to hear about any decommissioning of weapons, while oddly hearing first the proposed amnesty.

Any conflict that can be resolved peacefully should be welcome. But while there are legitimate concerns about the history of extremism and violence that has claimed 80,000 lives in Pakistan, they must be fully addressed. Any concession made without verifiable downgrading of weapons cannot be acceptable. A general amnesty cannot either.

The writer is a former editor of Dawn.

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Posted in Dawn, le 14 November 2021