British journalist wants govt, Taliban to follow Ireland formula
KARACHI: Dubbing the ongoing peace process between the government and the Taliban as tough terrain to ride, a senior British journalist, Yvonne Ridley has asked the two sides to follow the Northern Ireland peace formula that had ended decades long insurgency in the region.
Ms Ridley, who is currently visiting Pakistan, fears that foreign forces that want continuation of militancy in Pakistan, will try their best to derail the process, but both -the government and the Taliban- have to hold their nerves to save the peace process from derailment.
“I have seen the worst time in Ireland, and now I am seeing the best time there. The best experience we have got from Ireland episode is that if there is a determination and will, then nothing is impossible”, Ms Ridley said in an interview with Online here on Friday.
She observes that the peace process aimed at ending over a decade-long militancy in the country, will not be a walk in the park.
“This (peace process) is a very complicated issue. But the best thing out of whole exercise is that the two sides have at least started talking rather than bombing and attacking each other. When the warring sides reach at this stage (talking), then there are always bright prospects of success” she maintained.
Ms Ridley, who had been detained by Taliban in 2002 soon after the US invasion of Afghanistan, when she trickled into the war-hacked country through Pakistan, opines that the ceasefire between the security forces and the Taliban would be a perfect start.
“The two sides (government and Taliban) have reached at a stage where both would not achieve anything in war. And am optimistic that if the government manages to tackle the foreign meddling and the Taliban manage to control the rogue elements within their ranks, the goal will be achieved”, Ms Ridley who embraced Islam in 2003, thought.
She warned that the foreign forces who had their vested interest would try to exploit the rogue Taliban elements that are out of control of main Taliban groups in order to ruin the peace process.
“ There are various rogue elements within main Taliban groups who are out of control, and are involved in terrorist activities on ground in the name of Islam. Taliban have to control these rogue elements if they want the peace process a success”, she added.
Agreeing that disarming Taliban in case of successful talks, would be a problem, however , she urged the government to learn from Ireland formula in this regard too.
Ms Ridley recalled that the British government and the Irish Republican Army had agreed on decommissioning of weapons within a stipulated time period, and a commission of Canadian military, conducted the decommissioning process.
“This (disarming) could be an issue, but I would again say, if there is a will and determination, nothing is impossible”, she contended.
Talking about Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who is currently languishing in a US jail, the visiting journalist regretted that the “daughter of the nation” was the victim of apathy from Pakistan government.
“Pakistani ministers speak so emotionally in public and vow to bring Dr Aafia back to Pakistan, but in reality, they do not even say a single word about her in meetings with US officials”, Ms Ridley charged.
“These ministers should be awarded with Oscar for their brilliant and emotional acting on DR Aafia’s issue”, she said.
To a question, she said the key of Dr Aafia’s issue was with Pakistan government. “ If the government wants, Dr Aafia can be brought back to Pakistan to complete her sentence here”, she opined.