Night Watch

Pakistan: Preliminary peace talks failed to take place because the Pakistani government team failed to show.

Negotiating teams nominated by the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were supposed to open preliminary talks in Islamabad on 4 February and to develop a preliminary "roadmap" for peace talks.

The government delegation did not show up because of government doubts about the authenticity and authority of the Pakistani Taliban delegation. Specifically, the government wanted assurances that the TTP-appointed committee could make binding commitments on behalf of the TTP's leadership council.

The Taliban responded to the government's request for clarification by saying its committee will have the three members all of whom are ready for the talks. It is now up to the government to respond.

Comment: One of the longstanding hazards in negotiations with the Pakistani or Afghan Taliban is that the negotiators are charlatans. It is a Pashtun epic virtue to deceive the enemy. Thus, the Sharif government is prudent to require credentials checks.

Even with the utmost care, the government has no way of knowing for certain that the Taliban negotiators and the leaders they represent can make a binding agreement. The anti-government jihadists in Pakistan are not all members of the TTP.

An agreement reached with the TTP leadership might only be enforceable in a limited Pashtun region. Still a ceasefire in any part of Waziristan would be a start.

Musharraf update. A spokesman for the former president told the press today, "We can confirm that former President Musharraf has posted bail and intends to appear in the special treason court on February 7th, 2014."

According to the press statement, Musharraf wrote on the bail bond "I do not recognize the authority of this special treason court, but I am complying for the greater good of the rule of law."

"It is extremely relevant to note the formation, composition, jurisdiction, impartiality, independence and lawful authority of the special treason court is itself under question and under review in superior courts of Pakistan,"

Comment: The ruse of heart failure has run its course and Musharraf must appear in court to answer the charge of treason. Denial of the court's authority is a loser's gambit, especially for a man who arrested the Chief Justice of Pakistan.


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