Friday, 20 September 2013

The ‘Un-Signified’ Road to Negotiations : Pakistan’s Pharmekon – Panacea or Poison?

By -Ouroboros


“This pharmakon, this “medicine”, this philter, which acts as both remedy and poison, already introduces itself into the body of the discourse with all its ambivalence” [1]

Since the end of the last government and the beginning of the new, terms as- Peace Talks and Negotiations- have become part of our colloquial jargon, substituted to represent something other than themselves. They now represent a sign play, the collective psyche of dividedness: failure, submission, victory and hope all at once.

While any rational ‘dialogue’ would be based on an assumption that those indulging in a conversation are exactly in control of conscious choices they make. Similarly, the entire structure of the argument of any talks with the Taliban is based on an assumption that they are rational people who attack people for a political end. [2]



The belief, particularly in areas infested with militancy particularly Fata and a large number of people living in urban areas, that the phenomena that has come to be known as ‘Talibanization’ [the etymology of the word is vague but can be traced back to the early 2000’s] is ‘Engineered’. The architects of this ‘engineered product’ vary from personal imagination to relative experience based on (conspiracy) theories.

The point of mentioning altering viewpoints is not to conclude but rather to explain a common source of ideas and the expectations attached to it. While the government itself has always emphasized the intervention of the “Foreign Hand” while politicians believe that Pakistan is a “playground for international forces” – what has changed now? Is there a Confession or is it a speech act like Parrhesia? [3]

While the construction of terms like “Peace Talks” “Negotiating for peace” are based on an assumption, per-conceived, that the talks or negotiation will deliver peace or are at least an effort towards doing so. The construction of such ‘Frames’ * [concepts related in such a way that to understand any one of them you have to understand the whole structure in which it fits] has nothing more than then petty politics lingering in the backdrop. When the concept of -Peace – is associated with talks or negotiation, it creates a metaphor, an image. Appealing to the people who have witnessed, more than a decade of destruction and death. The image in-itself is exploitative, living upon the sentiments of the masses. [4]

While the politicos have ‘appealed’ – Give Peace A Chance – or – We have been elected by the people with a mandate of peace – Our interior minister even went to the extent to appeal to the Taliban “Not to be fooled by the propaganda of those that are opposed to peace talks” the Taliban replied in the same tone “We have an eye on those who are opposed to these talks”. Not to mention the incidents that have followed since then and the responsibility claims.

The question here is then, who do the leaders represent? If there are people who do not agree with the concept of peace talks – do we hear the voice of George Bush’s “Either you're for us, or you're against us” metamophosized for peace this time? A closer look at the arguments for peace talks has as much as common with those starting a war. Its all about “Framing and Reframing”. [5]

[1] (Jacques Derrida, Dissemination, Chicago University Press 1968. Platos Pharmacy, pg70. )



[2] (What Terrorists Really Want Terrorist Motives and Counterterrorism Strategy , Max Abrahms International Security, Volume 32, Number 4, Spring 2008, pp.78-105 (Article) Published by The MIT Press)



(3)[Six Lectures by Michel Foucault at University of California, Berkeley, Oct-Nov. 1983]



[4] (Lakoff , Don’t Think of an Elephant: (2004) pgs.15- 17)



[5] Norris Pippa, Montague Kern, and Marion Just; Framing Terrorism: Published in, Framing Terrorism- The News Media, the Government and the Public: Edited by Pippa, Montague Kern, and Marion Just. Published by Routledge New York, 20
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