Talking with the Pakistani Taliban – University of Copenhagen

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Talking with the Pakistani Taliban

The question of whether governments should engage with talks with terrorist groups is at the center of international controversy due to attempts to negotiate with the Taliban movement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In spite of heavy criticism, both the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan have been reaching out to elements of the Taliban movements in Pakistan or Afghanistan, albeit with distinct agendas.

While in public opinion, the attempts towards talks or negotiations are often framed as surrender or knee fall to terrorism, there are nevertheless convincing arguments to apply the instrument of diplomacy rather than hard power to deal with insurgent movements like the Taliban.

This talk will focus on the case of Pakistan and draw out the counterinsurgency rationale behind talks with insurgent groups as well as the potential conflict de-escalating effects of meeting with the militants. Sheikh will also draw on her own experiences from meeting militants in Pakistan, and what she has learned from her interviews with Taliban activists and leaders.

Mona Kanwal Sheikh has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Copenhagen. She works for the Danish Institute for International Studies as a senior researcher and has recently published a book on the Pakistani Taliban movement (Guardians of God – Inside the Religious Mind of the Pakistani Taliban, Oxford University Press, 2016).

She is a former visiting scholar at the Orfalea Center for Global and International studies at UC Santa Barbara and the Center for South Asia Studies at UC Berkeley.

Guardians of God – Inside the Religious Mind of the Pakistani Taliban, Oxford University Press, 2016

Her recent publications include Appointing Evil in International Relations (International Politics, 2014), A Sociotheological Approach to Understanding Religious Violence (Oxford Handbook of Global Studies, Oxford University Press, 2013); Sacred Pillars of Violence: Findings from a Study of the Pakistani Taliban (Politics, Religion & Ideology, 2012); Western Secularisms: variations in a Doctrine and its Practice (In: Thinking International Relations Differently, Routledge, 2012); How does Religion Matter? Pathways to Religion in International Relations (Review of International Studies, 2012).