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With a clear political vision, categorical demands for the release of prisoners, and for space in what it calls its "area of influence," the banned terrorist outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is slowly moving toward securing political legitimacy.It also wants a "peace zone" where it can engage in dialogue with the government in safety. Last week, however, Khawaja Asif – Pakistan's defense minister – ruled out any compromise on Pakistan's constitution and its territorial integrity. Since Pakistan partnered with the United States in its controversial "war on terror" in Afghanistan in October 2001, it has suffered nearly 51,000 casualties, including some 5,000 military and civilian security personnel. An official document – the National Internal Security Policy – puts the cumulative losses at $78 billion in the last 10 years.Engaging in dialogue with an organization the United States designates as a terrorist outfit has turned out to be quite divisive in Pakistan. The army is wary of talking to the TTP, which, immediately after the dialogue was launched, announced the execution of 23 soldiers whom it had captured two years ago.The attack on Rumi terrified those opposed to the way the government is pressing ahead with the talks.
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