Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan in particular, and the populace in general, should stay assured that talks with the Taliban in the given circumstances are not something short of surrender before them. It is the state not the Taliban that is ‘begging’ for negotiations, and in corollary, has to negotiate from a very weak position. The Taliban are stronger than ever, have capability to carry out attack wherever they please and finish anyone they aim at. They do not seem to be in need or haste to negotiate while the government does. They seem to have clear objectives for peace talks and that is why their moves are tactical and calculated, while government seems clueless about the talks, with its moves apparently apologetic. In such circumstances, to negotiate with the Taliban would mean to sell out the little gains the previous government has made against terrorism. Therefore, what is needed is not the talks but to find its promising alternative at the moment and wait it out till a more proper time. Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan’s view of the Taliban issue is very simplistic and completely out of touch with ground reality. They consider Taliban not an ideological group, which is ardently pursuing a goal to impose Sharia in Pakistan in the model of the once Taliban regime in Kabul, but a group of some immature and foolhardy, annoyed people who can be placated like children by feigning sheer sincerity towards them and offering them small things. They are treating the issue like a trivial one, with little sense of the worsening situation and its implications for Pakistan both as a state and society. They believe that the Taliban will naturally forget their objective and lay down their arms once they are successfully talked into a ceasefire. But it will never take place this way for the following reasons. Taliban commanders are far more cunning and hardheaded in dealing with war and peace matters than both our national leaders. Moreover, the example of Taliban’s comrades across the border is before them. They talk not to be liquidated but to gain control of certain areas and without bloodletting. The report that the Taliban asked for the withdrawal of Pakistan army from Fata as a precondition (although the word ‘pre-condition’ was not used) proves the point. The Taliban get hope of the control over certain areas with every news report about the talk offer coming from our political leadership. Meanwhile, the Taliban are playing their cards brilliantly. Something with which they seem gravely concerned is their credibility in the eyes of public. They know there are many people in every field of life who have discourses in their favour, and these are the people whose support in favour of their stance they do not wish to lose. That is why there is so much talk about peace and Sharia, projecting themselves as solemn and levelheaded fighters, only concerned with the promotion of Islam. Taliban’s roots run very deep in society; many in academia believe they are on the right path (I have heard some university professors saying so), not to talk of other fields. The Taliban want to keep the average citizen confused. All the political leaders who talk about talks with the Taliban in the given circumstances bestow credibility to the activities and cause of the Taliban. These leaders seem oblivious to the recklessness of their statements. Political leaders and journalists should remain cognizant of the fact that any argument in favour of talks with the Taliban, especially at the time they are unabatedly attacking us, defeat the whole argument of war against terror and, in corollary, presents Pakistan army with credibility crises. After all, people may ask if the Taliban are right about their stances, then why our army is fighting against them. Pakistanis are very resilient people as they are still ready to fight against the Taliban but if they are defeated in the way things stand at the moment then they may be compelled to either accept life under the Taliban or migrate to some other country. The discourse about terrorism in Pakistan is so confused that you talk about talks with the Taliban and someone will instantly refer to the US bids to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan. This is a highly callous argument. The US is fighting a war in an alien land and is about to withdraw its forces; it has defeated its number one enemy — the al Qaeda — and has brought down the Taliban regime. If the Taliban were to reemerge in the post-2014 Afghanistan, they will march on to Kabul not Washington, and they will massacre Afghans not Americans. While, on the other hand, if the Taliban get strength in Pakistan they will march on to Islamabad and we will have no option but to surrender before their brutalities. Clearly, Pakistan’s talks with the Taliban should not be paralleled with those of the US. It is not very difficult to hold successful negotiations with the Taliban, and hope for peace; the problem is that there will be peace in certain areas at the cost of violence in other areas. Things will go in accordance with the adage that “If you want to gain something you have to lose something.” You may have to lose Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA if you are hell bent upon negotiations with the Taliban, without considering other options. The writer is an academic. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter at @khetranazk.