by Muhammad Tahir
ISLAMABAD, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- A series of attacks recently by the Taliban has put on hold the peace dialogue between the Pakistani government and intermediaries of the insurgent group that has started this month.
On Feb. 17, the Taliban brutally executed 23 Pakistani security personnel. A few days earlier, the Taliban bombed a police bus in Karachi, the southern commercial hub of the country, killing 13 soldiers and injuring 30 more.
A local Taliban chapter in the northwestern city of Peshawar claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that killed and injured dozens of Shiite Muslims at a marketplace near their mosque.
A faction of the Pakistani Taliban had kidnapped the "Frontier Corps" personnel in 2010 whose brutal killing sent wave of shocks across Pakistan, even prompting calls for the government to review the dialogue policy.
The Taliban attacks were seen as attempts to derail the peace process and the situation was further complicated when they refused to stop attacks despite repeated calls from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself.
In order to save the fragile dialogue process, the government and Taliban negotiators last week issued a joint appeal to the banned "Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan" to end their deadly attacks to ensure the success of the peace dialogue.
However, a defiant Taliban justified their attacks and refused to declare a ceasefire, making it impossible for the government committee to continue talks unless the Taliban declare to halt terror attacks.
The Taliban wanted the government to declare a ceasefire first.
The Taliban had earlier imposed three conditions for it to enter into a dialogue with the government, namely the release of all non-combatant prisoners, including Taliban's women and children, withdrawal of troops from parts of South Waziristan to provide a secure place for the Taliban, and what it termed as " extra-judicial killings" of Taliban detainees.
The security sources have rejected the Taliban claim of the killings of detainees while in custody and the alleged holding of women and children by the government, saying that all these are just excuses to derail the peace process.
Some observers said that the Taliban's pre-conditions would certainly torpedo the peace process since the government would never accept their demands.
The Taliban, who had earlier allowed their intermediaries to hold talks with the government under the country's constitution, later took a U-turn and said they consider the country's constitution "un-Islamic".
Even its own designated intermediaries were embarrassed by the Taliban's attack on the Pakistani constitution.
Obviously angered by the Taliban's double talk and in retaliation for their continued attacks, Pakistani security forces last week carried out targeted operations in North Waziristan tribal region, the last stronghold of the Taliban.
Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's national security adviser, said that the military action was a clear message to the Taliban that their attacks will now get a tough response from the government.
The military action is an indication that the government is determined to use the other option as the dialogue track has not worked so far. This shift in strategy is fully supported by the Pakistani people, including those who have earlier called for a peaceful solution to the Taliban insurgency.
Thousands rallied in Karachi on Sunday to call for a major military push against the Taliban militants.
As foreign troops in Afghanistan are finalizing their exit strategy, Pakistanis are also mulling to control all border areas to avoid any instability in case of intensification of fighting in post-NATO Afghanistan.