Pakistan's Taliban -- known as TTP -- are facing a major army offensive against the wishes of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Nawaz, as he is known (Sharif is as common as Smith in the U.S.) then took off for an unprecedented summit meeting in Delhi with the freshly elected new Indian Prime Minister Narendra D. Modi.
It was the first time that the leader of one of the two hostile nations attended the swearing in of the leader of the other country. Normally, such a summit would have dominated front page news in Pakistan. But it didn't because of still bigger news at home.
TTP (Threek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan) enjoyed Nawaz's protection under the banner of "peace negotiations" to buy time. But the army decided time was up and launched a major offensive against TTP in North Waziristan on the Afghan border. If Nawaz had objected the army was prepared to take over the government. He had no choice but to acquiesce. Pakistan has spent half its life as an independent nation under army rule.
GEO, the TV network that supports TTP and Nawaz peace talks, offered two of its news executives to represent Taliban in peace negotiations and to be in Taliban's negotiation team:
1) Ansar Abbasi, director of news investigations (a Taliban backer in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and friend of the late Osama Bin Laden); 2) Hamid Mir, a GEO anchor (and radical supporter of Taliban and devoted follower of Bin Laden).
Mir was a vociferous defender of Bin Laden and critic of the army and ISI for backing the US raid that killed the world's most notorious terrorist leader.
Both Mir and Abbasi paraded their sympathies in front of the entire country. Mir, a talented self-promoter, said ISI had tried to "assassinate me" in Karachi and that he had been hit by six bullets – without any proof. In fact, he was hospitalized for two days before flying back to Islamabad.
Nawaz, under army threat of a coup, is buying time for himself and TTP. He is also blocking a legal investigation against GEO for "blasphemy and false allegations against the army."
It is becoming increasingly clear that Nawaz is in a covert alliance with TTP and a takeover by the army is not only growing stronger by the day-- but is now openly supported by a growing segment of the population. Nawaz's ulterior motives are no longer secret.
The record of Nawaz government corruption -- nothing new in Pakistan but still spreading -- and the breakdown of law and order, pressures from Nawaz for assistance to TTP, including a media campaign to support TTP against army intervention, as well as a serious energy crisis as scorching temperatures return and air conditioning that is more frequently off than on, all add up to another politico-military explosion.
Nawaz is now openly criticized for massive vote fraud in the last election with the assistance of the election commission. This, in turn, has echoed through the ranks of political parties with demands for another election.
Imran Khan and other prominent political leaders are joining the anti-Nawaz bandwagon. Khan is leading an anti-GEO boycott. He and others are calling GEO the Prime Minister's Ministry of Disinformation and Propaganda. Some cable operators have severed relations with GEO that has lost 50 percent of its advertisers.
In normal times, Nawaz's trip to India would have been sensational news. But it was overtaken by his domestic crisis – and his fight for survival against an army coup. His opponents are calling the Prime Minister's office the Ministry of Disinformation and Propaganda. The army is operating throughout the country as if it were already in the driver's seat.
Nawaz knows that any move by him to restrain the army in its current offensive against TTP would lead to his ouster and direct army rule, as Pakistan has known for half of its existence as an independent state.
The massive rigging of results in the last elections with the help of the election commission, reports Ammar Turabi, a long-time observer of Pakistan's politico-military landscape, is now known or at least suspected throughout the country.
Until now, TTP was well protected by Nawaz in the name of peace negotiations and to buy time for his own political survival. TTP, otherwise known as Pakistan's Taliban, and in recent years responsible for countless acts of terrorism and some 30,000 casualties throughout the country, is now in the army's crosshairs.
To make matters worse for Nawaz Sharif, India's new Prime Minister Mode reminded him that before their two countries could go any further in a rapprochement, he would have to put an end to terrorism.
Nawaz thinks he can coopt TTP's terrorists. In his first year as Prime Minister for the third time in his career, Nawaz traveled to 15 official international destinations. And he doesn't have anything to show for mounting travel costs. But the army's bill of complaints gets longer.