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Pakistan's Peace with the Taliban: Is it Possible?
In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1373 authorizing the use of force in Afghanistan. The US and its allies intervened militarily and launched Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in October of 2001. The goal of OEF was to disrupt, destroy and oust al Qaeda and their Taliban host from Afghanistan. However, after twelve years of military operations and state building the US, their allies and the Afghan government have been unable to stabilize the Afghan state and defeat the insurgency.
On the other side of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), Pakistan has been battling an insurgency within it’s own borders. The Pakistani Taliban, the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) and various Islamist militant groups based inside the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) seek resistance against the Pakistani state, enforcement of their interpretation of sharia law and a plan to unite against NATO-led forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan has carried out several major military operations in the region and has suffered thousands of casualties.
Can Pakistan's government even really consider talking to the Taliban? Where should the line be drawn when talking peace?
Mr Aqab Malik is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Strategic & Nuclear Studies, National Defense University (NDU), Pakistan, as well as the 2013 Senior Fellow at the South Asia Studies Program, SAIS Johns Hopkins University, and also A Carnegie Fellow at the New America Foundation.
Mr. Malik has had extensive teaching and research experience within his areas of interest, which includes courses ranging from: Weapons of Mass Destruction (CBRN/WMD) Terrorism; Counter Terrorism; Strategic (Nuclear) Stability; Strategic Crisis Management; Missile & Space Program (Militarization of'); Modern Strategy, Strategic Studies & Strategic Thought; Information & Psychological Operations & Warfare; and, Mass Communication, Media & Strategy.
Mr Malik also supervises, mentors, and instructs domestic Senior Civil Service Officers (Joint Secretary and Ambassadorial level) as well as domestic Military and Foreign Allied Military Officers (Colonel, and Brigadier General level officers) on the National Security Course at the NDU.
Mr Malik is also sought after at numerous other institutions as a visiting Professor, such as at Pakistan’s premier Quaid-i-Azam University, amongst others. In recent times, and in addition to his regular teaching, Mr Malik has been actively engaged as a consultant for organizations as diverse as the National Counter Terrorism Authority, Ministry of Interior, Pakistan, in the Formulation and Writing of the National Counter Terrorism Strategy and Threat Assessment for Pakistan. Furthermore, he has worked as a Consultant to the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research for a project on the “European Union Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and Explosive Remnants of War”, during which he was involved in compiling a high-level policy report on the ‘EU’s Humanitarian and Reconstruction Efforts in Afghanistan and their relationship with the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons’.
Moreover, the latter is significant due to Mr Malik’s expertise on conflict dynamics in Afghanistan, for which he has conducted extensive research for his doctoral thesis that has entailed numerous visits to Afghanistan, Central Asia, and South Asia, during which he gained access to numerous political and military figures within the Taliban and opposition, Pakistani Government and military, NGO community (including the United Nations family of agencies), non-state actors and militias, and European Union representatives as an unattached independent observer throughout these countries: at many levels of social interaction, from Mullahs and opposition spokesmen to field commanders, combatants (including child combatants) and civilians on all sides; in urban and rural areas; on Taliban front-lines as well as in safe rear zones; at many levels of the humanitarian aid community; and, throughout the military (especially including the security services), civilian, political elite, and general populace of Afghani and Pakistani societies.