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Taliban Kill Top Pakistani General as Faint Hope for Talks Crumbles


For a brief week it looked like talks between the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban were getting somewhere. The top military leadership blessed an initiative, led by Nawaz Sharif, to talk to the militant group that has waged a bloody war against the Pakistani government for years. But then the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb that killed Major General Sanaullah Niazi and two others on Sunday, drowning what the New York Times had called “the best strategy to end a decade of militant-driven bloodshed.”

In Pakistan, significant security decisions must be blessed by the military, which has long resisted civilian urging to negotiate with its enemy. But last week when Sharif, who made talks with the Taliban a cornerstone of his campaign, announced that it had struck an agreement with military and intelligence leaders to take the first steps toward peace negotiations, hope arose that this time progress was within reach.

That looks doubtful now. The bombing, a Taliban spokesman declared, was intended “to show that there is no cease-fire” with the government. “If we find that the government is serious, we can talk. Otherwise, we will continue our attacks.” Niazi was visiting troops on the border of Afghanistan and his convoy was expertly targeted, suggesting his attackers had inside knowledge of his movements.

Negotiations remain the best way forward, several Pakistani civilian politicians and Prime Minister Sharif said. The military, on the other hand, is skeptical peace talks can work and vowed to continue to battle Taliban militants. Peace for Pakistan, unfortunately, does not seem to be at hand.

[Nawaz Sharif photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • Alexander Scipio

    A) Pakistan’s government has a nuke.
    B) Pakistan’s government has an existential enemy it has been unable to control through democratic or conventional military means.
    C) Use it.

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