Blog 11/08/2012 : Re-election of President Barak Obama
Although most of the senior analysts and political pundits in US and pragmatic analysts and journalists in Pakistan ........Archives
Blog 11/03/2012 : What Imran Believes about TTP
Recently, Babar Ssttar asked the question in an article published in The News, (Our Crumbling State),
“Does our political and military leadership not realize that everything.........Archives
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Web Log: The Stockholm Syndrome: November 13, 2013 Silicon Valley, CA
The question is, "what is Sovereignty" -- by definition -- it is the quality of having independent authority over a geographic area. It can be found in a power to rule and make laws that rests on a political fact for which no pure legal definition can be provided. The land or territory is considered sovereign if the state has its law implemented there and the people are bound to follow the Social Contract between the people and the state. Food, health, education, economy, security etc needs of the people belong to the land are among the prime responsibilities of the state. The land is not sovereign, however, – no matter it belongs to the state territory geographically and/or socially – if the private armies control it, they impose their laws, they allow private illegal armies from all over the world and provide them trainings to operate in other countries and they – at their will – go anywhere and try to impose their views by force. In the Roget's Thesaurus, there are 12 Antonyms for the word "sovereignty". These are dominance, jurisdiction, supremacy, ascendancy, ascendant, dominion, preeminence, prepotency, primacy, sway, prepotence and supreme power.
Looking at the situation in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan, none of the above Antonyms describes Pakistan's stakes on the tribal areas, however Pakistan's authority over the tribal area can only be defined as "submission" which is the only Synonym given in Thesaurus. Although the area is geographically belongs to Pakistan but there is no writ of the state and it is ruled by terrorists who have imposed "shariah" laws of their own interpretation, they control the movements of the local populations, they have their own Judicial system and their own law and order. Therefore, arguing that the US drone strikes is an attack on Pakistan is rather misleading. The debate on the drone attack should be that since it is run by an intelligence agency instead of military, which does not come under the jurisprudence of legal framework agreed by the Geneva Convention, which restrict the waring armies to avoid civilian casualties and so called collateral damage, no matter it effectively eliminates some of very high valued targets who are involved in the gruesome crimes against the people of Pakistan and are on the hit list of Pakistan security agencies.
Some retired Generals and former diplomats start urging the government to show "gestures of peace" to Taliban as incentive so that they will agree to talk. Zafar Hilaly, a political analyst and diplomat who has previously served as an ambassador to Yemen, Nigeria, and Italy, was insisting that Pakistan Army is incapable of fighting against Taliban. The PTI leadership -- time and again -- argue the same rhetoric. They argue that Afghanistan is a "graveyard of empires" and no one can win the war with them. First of all, Pakistani Talibans are not Afghanistan, they are the criminals who are committing crimes on the Pakistani soil. Second, this metaphor that Afghanistan is a "graveyard of empires" is more of a cliches than a reality. History witnesses that three decades after the disastrous British defeat in 1842 by Afghans, British won the second Afghan war. Afghan insurgency was victorious against Soviet Empire because it was widely driven by the overt and/or covert help from the so called Free World during the Iron Curtain era. When the Soviets were in Afghanistan they were afraid of Stinger missiles which made their gunship choppers extremely vulnerable. Who can deny that the tide of war in Afghanistan changed with the arrival of the Stingers. Not only that history tells us that number of empire builders beginning from Alexander the Great in the BCs, to Moghul Emperor Zaheeruddin Babar in sixteenth century to the British had military victories in Afghanistan.
Some sections of media and political parties are building up narrative, that the day, negotiations with Taliban will begin, an era of peace and tranquility will emerge. Let's look into the previous peace agreements to understand the complexities of the situation. The most discussed peace agreements were a) the verbal Shakai Peace Agreement with Taliban leader Nek Mohammed and tribal elders of Ahmadzai Wazir tribe in South Waziristan on April 24, 2004 b) the Sararogha Agreement -- again verbal -- with militant commander Baitullah Mehsud and tribal elders of the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan on Feb. 7, 2005 and c) the North Waziristan (written) Agreement with Taliban commander, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and tribal elders of the Uthmanzai Wazir in Sep. 2006.
After the fall of Taliban regime in Afghanistan in Nov. 2001, the Taliban and foreign militants belonging to Al-Qaida, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and some North African militant groups started pouring into the South Waziristan Agency (SWA) of FATA. Later, the Al-Qaida based foreign militant groups started taking refuge in the Shakai area of the SWA which is inhabited by the Ahmedzai Wazir tribe and started regrouping and organizing the terrorist infrastructure. By the mid of 2003, when Pakistan government began to receive the information of Al-Qaida and Al-Qaida linked terrorists in Shakai area, the government start putting pressure of Ahmedzai Wazir tribe to hand over the foreign militants or banish them from the SWA but the tribes did not respond to the pressure. In October 2003, Pakistan security forces killed the chief of ETIM with another Al-Qaida leader in a gunship helicopter attack in the Shakai area.
From Oct. 2003 until April 2004, Pakistan security forces launched operations but those operations faced stiff resistance from the Nek Mohammed led Talibans. During this time the Al-Qaida slowly moved to NWA area while the IMU stayed with Nek and fought alongside with him against Pakistan Army.
On April 24, 2004, a verbal agreement, popularly known as, Shakai Peace Agreement, was reached between Pakistan government, Nek Mohammed led Taliban and Ahmedzai Wazir tribe. Because of its verbal nature, this agreement fell through. Just after the agreement Nek Mohammed reiterated his ties with Taliban and Al-Qaida. Within days, both sides -- Nek Mohammed and Pakistan security forces -- start blaming each other for violating the agreement. In June 2004 Nek Mohammed was killed by the US predator drone strike and his comrades ran away. Same year in October, Nek's truant associates revived the Shakai agreement after the fresh negotiations between them and the government.
In Feb 2005, Pakistan government reached another agreement in Sararogha with the tribal elders of Mehsud tribe and Mehsud Taliban militant led by Baitullah Mehsud. Foreign militants like Tahir Yuldashev led IMU were taking refuge in the Mehsud tribe of the SWA after the military operations against the Ahmedzai Wazir tribe. Extensive military action was launched against the Mehsud faction of the Taliban led by Abdullah Mehsud, before reaching the agreement. In the agreement, Pakistan government refused to grant the amnesty to Abdullah Mehsud because he abducted two Chinese engineers who were working on the Gomalzam Dam project. One of the engineer was killed when the military launched a rescue operation, while the other engineer was recovered unharmed. Abdullah Mehsud, on his part, refused to agree with the Sararogha Agreement and he escaped to Afghanistan's Zabul province to fight NATO troops. Later, in 2007, when he was going to SWA through Zhob district in Baluchistan, he was killed by the Pakistan security agencies.
The North Waziristan Agency assumes tremendous significance in FATA because most of the Al-Qaida and other foreign militant groups are based in NWA and operate from there. Miranshah was the headquarter where the Taliban Shura, which consists of practically all the "active" militant factions, meet. Most of the cross-border infiltrations to Khost province of Afghanistan used to take place from the NWA . Daur and Uthmanzai Wazir tribes -- to this day according to the media reports -- were hosting Al-Qaida and other foreign militants. In 2005, Pakistani security forces launched an operation against the Al-Qaida and the linked terrorist organizations. The operation initially started in the Shawal Valley and then it was extended to Saidgai Wazir, Dattakhel, Miranshah and Mirali. The security forces successfully eliminated some Al-Qaida commanders, however, the local tribal elders, parliamentarian, and clerics, with the help of Ali Mohammed Jan Orakzai -- a retired Lt. Gen. and the Governor of Khaber Pakhtoonkhwa (then NWFP) from 2006 -- got involved and a ceasefire was observed. This ceasefire was eventually led to the written agreement known as the North Waziristan Agreement.
All the peace agreements failed to bear any fruit because after signing the peace agreements, Taliban refused to banish or even help registering the foreign militants and frustrated the security agencies by totally denying foreigners presence in the tribal areas. Taliban also refused to cease their cross-border activities of attacking NATO troops. They continued targeting the local pro-government tribal elders, and as per the media reports, in less than 2 years -- between 2004 to 2006 -- around 200 tribal elders were murdered by the Taliban and foreign militants. The Taliban -- contrary to what they agreed with government -- openly repudiated the agreements and kept on establishing parallel government -- the so called Islamic Emirates -- in the SWA. They started pouring in the settled areas like Swat and tried to gain control those areas, even after the 2006 peace agreement.
After the NW Agreement was signed, the US, Afghanistan and NATO commanders criticized the accord. When Gen. Musharraf visited US days after this agreement was signed, he was questioned by the US officials and the media. General Musharraf called Gen. Orakzai to go to US and remove the "misunderstandings" about this agreement. However, even after sustained efforts by Gen. Orakzai, this agreement could not be maintained and it became null and void after one year. By then, Taliban increased their strength and reorganized not only in the North and South Waziristan but also in the Bajaur and Mehmand agencies, and emerged as a formidable and lethal force of the region. Analysts believe that Gen. Orakzai was miserably failed in controlling the tribal areas even after having the tribal family background. He resigned in September 2008 from the position of Khaber Pakhtoonkhwa (then NWFP) Governor.
After knowing the recent history of negotiations with terrorist groups, once again in the media and among the political parties, the issue of dialogues with Taliban is considered the way to achieve peace. Supporters of negotiations -- especially the PTI, JI, JUI (F) and some top leaders of PML (N) -- are brutally distorting the historical facts and spreading the narrative that dialogues are the only way to bring peace. They are now telling the people that Pakistan military is incapable to launch an operation and fight against the terrorists. The outrage and over reaction of these political parties' top leadership and some media sections on the death of Hakeemulla Mehsud made large number of Pakistanis very surprised. On talk shows where anchor persons take calls from public, large number of people were confused and asking if Hakeemulla Mehsud , who is responsible of killing thousands, is a murderer or some statesman, who should be respected.
This time Army needs support from the public and they deserve to have this support. The biggest responsibility goes to the federal government's shoulders, who should show the leadership. Those parties and leaders who are engaged in the arrogant petty politics must be ignored for the larger interest of the country. The Constitution of Pakistan is clear. Article 256 states: “No private organization capable of functioning as a military organization shall be formed, and any such organization shall be illegal.” Before any dialogue, the terrorists' core has to be hit hard and its destructive power must be softened. This could be achieved by first infiltering undercover commando units to eliminate the top leadership of terrorists then launch a full scale -- not just surgical -- military action. Delays and procrastination in moving forward will only make the enemy more and more stronger and organized, and more and more difficult to deal.
Outmaneuver the Maginot Line: Blog January 14, 2014
Recently, on a private TV channel, one of the well-known journalist and political analyst, who is considered among the most ardent and vocal supporters of the Taliban, argued that the reason for the terrorism related deaths in Pakistan is that since we accepted to join hand with “infidels” against “our Muslim brothers” in Afghanistan so we are punished by God. Unfortunately, the anchor person, instead of challenging him, sat down and nodded the head. He should tell that if what he said is true then a) is he suggesting that these brutal terrorists are not mass murderers but angels of God whom He sent to punish Pakistanis for their support of infidels b) why, when some years ago, we joined the war to help “our Muslim brothers” in Afghanistan, God did not reward us. Instead, Pakistanis had to face non-stop terrorism, mass murders in the name of religion and ethnic hatred c) why the so called “Ummah” like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and almost all the Arab and North African countries who are not only supported -- and in some cases even participated -- the war against Taliban, are not exposed to the wrath of Almighty, why He did not send the same angels to mass murder them as well instead of choosing poor Pakistanis to punish.
When these Taliban apologists and supporters do not find any rational and logical argument in the support of terrorists, they search refuge behind their self-defined religious rhetoric. They not only insist to make their point purely on their interpretation of religion but also, very arrogantly engage in guessing about the actions of Almighty as if they are His representatives on the earth.
The religious extremism came to Pakistan just after demise of Qaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Its first demonstration of presentation of the so called Objective Resolution in the Constituent Assembly in March 1949. The Objective Resolution – which was vigorously opposed by the non-Muslim members of the Assembly – supposedly combining the Warminster style of democracy and Islam. However, the real extremism was unleashed by the military dictator General Zia who made the situation worse by imposing the stringent Islamic Laws on the common people. Gen. Zia, who is described by Mohammed Hanif in his brilliant satire A Case of Exploding Mangos as “fattened, chubby-cheeked and marinating in his own paranoia”, not only went very far in defining Pakistan as an Islamic theocratic state but he encouraged and nurtured the extreme religious ideologues that now threaten to destabilize the whole world including many Islamic countries. Gen Zia empowered and allowed uneducated and illiterate mullahs and religious right to spread and impose extreme religious views on the common people and gave religious parties state land on which to build hundreds of madrassas, most of which practiced intolerant strains of Islam instead of the Sufi traditions common to Pakistanis. In the new social structure, situation has arrived that people try to search answers of every mundane problem in the religion, and when they are unable to find they get confused. Common people are scared of condemning Taliban just because Taliban use the name of Islam to kill innocent people, besides, some voices on TV talk shows and in the print media also add to people’s confusion by preaching that it is not Taliban, that we face deaths and disasters, it is the wrath of God because we become bad Muslims since we support “infidels” against our brothers. Unfortunately, political leadership of PTI, JI, JUI (F) and partly PML (N) are also responsible for misguiding common people. They insist that dialogs with Taliban on the basis of give-and-take are the only way to engage terrorism problem. They unfortunately do not want to understand that the dialogs are done only with those with whom the country has to coexist. States do not engage into dialogs process with criminals and mass murderers. Pakistan should have dialogs with Baluch insurgents but there is no reason to have dialogs with Taliban. Dialogs with Taliban could only be initiated a) after complete destruction of their core and b) to force them for unconditional surrender and handing over those who were involved in the most brutal and heinous acts against Pakistani citizens.
Time has arrived where the flow of events must be diverted. Government must show its leadership and resolve to wipe out the terrorism instead of worrying too much about consensus. There can never be a consensus on tactical decisions. Country cannot afford to allow these forces to keep on flourishing and taking control of common people’s lives. Slowly, people are getting focused towards the use of force against Taliban and media also started talking about the decisive action after the recent wave of terrorisms. However, media persons who may be at this stage somewhat supporting the operation must understand that unleashing the military is actually the “beginning of the end” -- in one way or the other. When military comes it searches the enemy, finds the enemy then kills the enemy, so once operation begins it will not stop until the end, there will be excesses committed during operation, but if it is not done now, it has to be done later and as time will pass, operation will be more and more difficult and more and more brutal in the nature.
Nawaz Sharif has not only the mandate given to him in the May, 2013 elections but almost all the political parties are behind him. Since Imran Khan and his comrades realized that Army is now strongly inclined for the operation so they decided to put their support behind the Army. The operation must be decisive and it should not end until the complete annihilation of the core of terrorism. Some steps can be taken:
1)Deprive terrorists from their money trails and use intelligence/commando operations to systematically take out their top leadership and their terrorist training facilities.
2)Secretly contact the loosely connected groups and urge them to sever their relations with hard cored militant group and collect more intelligence to find the locations of the leadership and take them out.
3)Once their core is broken they should be asked for unconditional surrender and hand over all those who are responsible for the mass murders in Pakistan.
4)Anyone who surrenders should be taken to courts and should get amnesty if possible, else launch the final assault on the remaining ones by storming the military to their hideouts and if they retaliate, engage them ruthlessly and take them out.
Once the mother ship – their centers in North Waziristan -- is destroyed, the child ships will lose their oxygen supply and they can be slowly taken away by police actions in the cities. Without the umbilical cord, the people in the sleeper cells will be melted away and become the members of the society. The groups killing Shias and Hazaras will also become power less and inactive once they lose their life line from the TTP, Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups in the tribal areas.
The world is result oriented and a person is usually judged on the basis of what that person had achieved not on the basis of how much effort he/she put to get the goals. Nawaz Sharif is riding on the same situation of his political carrier. All the effort and hard work he did to get back to this position will be paid off if he successfully eradicates the terrorism and revive the economy, he will be remembered as a hero and a statesman, however, if he fails to deliver he would be flushed into the gutters of history, no matter how much hard work he put to achieve his goal or how wonderful credentials he had before.
So many Chamberlain but no Churchill in Political Leadership: Web Log, San Jose CA Feb. 02, 2014
Recently, a prominent journalist, TV anchor person, political analyst/columnist and my dear friend argued, while he was invited on the private TV channel, the optimistic scenario in the geo-political situation in Pakistan in near future vis-à-vis new round of dialog efforts with Taliban, initiation of US-Pakistan strategic dialogs and incoming government in Afghanistan. Usually, I am very close to his views and find his arguments very convincing but regretfully and respectfully, this time I do not share his optimism.
I do agree with, and cautiously endorse, the view that talks with Taliban may be a political move to appease the “appeasers” and a last ditch effort by the Prime Minister to make sure that all those parties and large section of mass media who are insisting that talks are the only way forward, should take the ownership and see for themselves if they can bring some changes as they claim and boast. However, Pakistan is running out of time window and these efforts could make more sense 7 months ago after the All Parties Conference. Now time has arrived to converge the public focus and take a decisive action. For the sake of record, I would like to argue my concerns.
Recently, Tom Ricks of Foreign Policy Magazine asked Richard Armitage if he had lunch with President Obama today, what would he tell him about the Afghan war and about Pakistan, Richard Armitage responded, “Twenty-five years from now, Mr. President, I can assure you there will be a nation called Afghanistan, with much the same borders and the same rough demographic makeup. I probably couldn't say that about Pakistan." Another interesting article appeared in Washington Post on January 28th by Max Fisher who presented the mathematical model by a political scientist Jay Ulfelder who has, maintained this model to predict the likelihood of coups in almost every country around the world. According to the model out of 40 countries which are at the risk of military coups, Pakistan is at number 14. One can reject these views as a figment of an old and retired naval officer then a politician, and another a theoretician who is building mathematical models and trying to predict very undeterminstic and random behaviors of ground realities. One can put little or no weight to the mathematical models but Richard Armitage’s views influence the policy making because Armitage is not just a retired politician but he served as Deputy Sec. of State for 4 tough years – from 2001 to 2005 – when US was strongly involved in Afghanistan and Pakistan after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
I strongly support the view that TTP once again wants to buy time until the US pulls out from Afghanistan to get the help and support from the West side of Pak-Afghan border. Also, after the recent befitting actions by the Pakistan military in response to attacks on Army officials in Bannu and attack on R.A. Bazar in Rawalpindi, TTP realized the growing resolve and the capabilities of military to hit hard at their core. I see TTP as a provider of “Strategic Depth” to Afghan Taliban who may use TTP to take control of FATA after the US withdrawal. Neither TTP nor the Afghan Taliban would want TTP to lose its fire power at this stage.
World history shows that predominantly, there are two types of insurgencies which different states had to deal with, one which we observe in Baluchistan, East Pakistan and to some extent the Ireland etc. The other type of insurgency is like Taliban, Tamil Tigers and the 1980’s Peruvian Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) insurgency, which was a Maoist guerrilla insurgent organization whose stated goal was to replace what it saw as bourgeois democracy with "New Democracy". First kind is where there are grievances with state and the people demand the fair share of power and resources. It is true that time and again the hardline militancy take control of such insurgencies -- like in East Pakistan and even in Baluchistan -- and the accesses in human right violations began victimizing innocent civilian, but the state has to keep their hands soft and initiate dialogs with the parties to hear from them, because the state has to co-exist with them. However, in the second type, the state has to purely deal with criminals and it has to restore its writ and provide safety to its people. State does not declare them as stakeholders because states do not co-exist with criminals.
As per the 4-member negotiating committee here are some questions:
1)Who is going to guarantee the safety of the negotiating team when so far the Army role in the process is not very clear that how much they will be involved to provide the security details?
2)Who can assure that the TTP will not kidnap the members and use them as their bargaining chips to get their thugs released from prisons? One must not forget what TTP did to their fathers Khawaja Khalid and Col. Imam.
3)What will be the criteria for the success of dialogs?
4)If – we assume hypothetically -- the peace talks will be “successful” (in whichever definition), will the state of Pakistan agree to release all the prisoners who were involved in the most heinous crimes? And will the arm forces allow the government to go that far to fulfill the demands of criminals?
5)Will the state provide blanket amnesty to even those like Fazlullah who were slitting throats of soldiers, Shia Muslims and Christians, and then boasting about it?
6)What the state would do if after one or two years of some uncomfortable peace, they will come back with new sets of demands, raise arms and start killing more people until their demands are fulfilled.
7)After taking the responsibility of attacking rangers in Karachi just hours after the PM’s talks offer and committee formation, and the statement by the spokesperson of Fazlullah that the Shariah will be imposed on Pakistan “whether through peace or war”, what are the odds that the committee can make any headway?
Some of the liberal voices on TV are also talking and insisting about the general amnesty and giving the examples of some brutal insurgencies of the world. They are confusing the listeners by combining the legitimate grievance based insurgencies -- in which the states provided a large amnesty once the political settlements are achieved -- and the criminal activities like in Sri Lanka, where the amnesty was provided only after the state wiped out the destructive power of the insurgents using excessive force. I am willing to buy that Prime Minister is trying to get the political forces, civil society and media on board before going into the war but unfortunately, he does not have the large time window because the US withdrawal from Afghanistan may rejuvenate these terror forces and they will be more confident because the border areas will be in their control totally unchallenged.
I believe that time is running out, government must take the decisive action against these militias and disarm them. Some politicians and media people argue that
1)the military operations are failed so far because Army has to still stay in those areas
2)And if there will be another operation there will be a backlash in the cities because of their hidden sleeper cells.
To answer the first question I must counter argue that the terrorism is like jell, you take part of it, and other sides fill the gap right away. The main reason for this volatility is that the center of the all problems has not yet cleaned up. Whenever there is a surgical operation, the criminals either fight or go to their shelters to hide. Once things cool down they come back. So the shelter must be destroyed.
As per the second argument, I would say that once the mother ship – their centers in North Waziristan -- is destroyed, the child ships – the so called sleeper cells -- will lose their oxygen supply and they can be slowly taken away by organized police actions in the cities. Without the umbilical cord, the people in the sleeper cells will be melted away and become the members of the society. The groups killing Shias and Hazaras will also become power less and inactive once they lose their life line from the TTP, Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups in the tribal areas.
Time has arrived that Pakistan has some Churchill’s. So far in the political leadership I see predominantly Chamberlain’s who are bowing their heads too low. There must be leaders who tell terrorists that, “we will give you a chance to tell if you have any grievance. However, if there is any attack on Pakistani soldiers or civilians – no matter it would be done by some of your splinter group – you will be responsible for that. Unless you will not punish them, there will be no talks”. Instead our leadership is telling people that if during the talks there will be any attack by terrorists, just condone that because it may be done by splinter groups who are “against the peace” and serving “foreign agenda” against Pakistan. By this narrative they are providing TTP the reason to kill more people without taking any responsibility to confuse and demoralize the commoners.
Distorted Narratives: Web Log, San Jose CA Feb. 23, 2014
The pain, which government, political parties and even the large section of media, felt after the brutal massacre of twenty three FC soldiers and the murder of a young Army Major, turned out to be very short lived like before and once again the talks about “successful dialogs” with terrorists and the talk about the possible “backlash” due to military action got in full gear on the media. One apologist after the other try to take lead in coming up projections to convince the viewers about the permanent peace which will be achieved by having dialogs with terrorists.
A famous TV anchor, journalist and an expert of the tribal issues, was insisting for long time that so far all the dialogs with terrorists were done with “Juz” (part) but not with “Kul” (everyone). However this theory seems to be failing now because this time the government tried to have the talks with “Kuls” but it turned out that they are all independent and only connected as far as the murderous ideology. They will not sacrifice their “Rajdhanis”, which they are maintaining for years, or the sake of some settlement. The commonly asked question by the media anchors and political pundits – which is becoming a cliché now – that will the “dialogs” be successful or not. The way this process was initiated it had to terminate and they are – by all practical purpose – collapsed, now it is a matter of time before the government will confess about this ground reality publically. So some of the frequently asked questions could be
1)What kind of road map or the blue print of success is in the minds of those who are the staunchest supporters of talk process?
2)Are they willing to co-exist with terrorists by giving them blanket amnesty and relinquish some territory so that they can create their own system of Emirates and continue their business of terror – may not be inside Pakistan but outside?
3)Or they are willing to propose significant constitutional amendments to “accommodate” terrorists’ demand of Taliban Shariah?
Before looking at the whole situation, one should understand that the TTP terrorism must not be compared with the insurgencies like in East Pakistan or Baluchistan, where the people stood up against the state because of negligence of state vis-à-vis their legitimate demands and lack or power sharing. It is true that when the states do not address the justifiable complains of the people and try to crush their voices by the use of excessive force, the insurgencies get stronger and the extremists with their own wasted agendas take over and get into the gruesome actions, as it was witnessed in East Pakistan and now -- to some extent -- in Baluchistan, where – as per the media reports -- some factions are involved in killings of non-Baluch living in Baluchistan. Whenever states face such insurgencies they should work hard to appease and address the grievances of the people and in some cases states should offer and provide very large scale amnesty to those who were involved in the crimes against the people. The main reason the state does it because people are the stakeholders in peace and state has to co-exist with them else the country could disintegrate the way East Pakistan became Bangladesh. The TTP and its affiliates are no insurgents, they are criminals and they should be aligned with other criminals like target killers, drug dealers and extortionists etc. The state of Pakistan must not have brought them to sit equally with them to have dialogs. There could be back-channel warnings to them to surrender but not by declaring them a stakeholders in peace. States do not work to co-exist with criminals and have dialogs on the basis of give and take. States duty is to nab them and punish them for their actions.
It’s interesting to know if the TTP apologists really believe that after the talks, TTP will decide to lay their arms down, dismantle their networks of terrorism, liquidate their Emirates, cease their business of extortions, kidnappings for ransom, drug and weapon smuggling, and become the part of the group of useful citizens – which should be the demand and the goal of the state when they deal with the group of criminals and miscreants. Common observation is that there are two major categories of Taliban apologists. First category contains those religious parties, characters and factions, who want the TTP type organizations to be preserved and operational because these parties, which were – for decades -- exploiting people’s ignorance about the world and religion, to bring up nonexistent fears and controlling the lives of common people, are now drawing their street power from militant organizations like TTP, LeJ, JeM etc. These parties cannot sustain their presence in the corridors of power or blackmail the governments in this information age where the large section of society has cheap access to information and predominantly they cannot be cheated and controlled by the religious and distorted historical rhetoric. On the other hand, there are apologists like Imran Khan and his PTI who may be convinced that after the dialog process the TTP will really disarm and dismantle. So far Imran Khan demonstrated his political imprudence by supporting Gen. Musharraf referendum, strongly supporting the Chief Justice and his Supreme Court’s activism and, later, he had to pull back and apologize. Now he is staunchest supporter of the TTP and Al-Qaida mentality and insists that dialogs with TTP will bring permanent peace to country. To strengthen his “peace rhetoric” he comes up with irrelevant and unrelated examples, some time he insists to treat TTP as a legitimate entity and demands to provide it offices. He went on to argue against Pakistan military’s capabilities to deal with terrorism. He already seems retreating from this rhetoric and in the near future – may be indirectly -- he could be seen apologizing to the public. Senior analysts and commentators insist that there are some sane and mature voices in PTI like Javed Hashmi, Khurshid Kasuri, Shafqat Mehmood, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Fauzia Kasuri etc. but they are not too assertive, however, the Pashtun and ex-Jamat-i-Islami groups in the PTI – which are pro-Taliban to large extent -- are very vocal and either Imran Khan follows their lines or, they follow Imran Khan’s worldview.
All the apologists are spreading the narrative that after US will leave Afghanistan, the terrorism will terminate by itself. They insist that the terrorism was much less before the US invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 tragedy. It is true that although, before 9/11, there were terrorist acts in Pakistan, but those were much less in number compared to the time when Pakistan Army entered into the tribal areas. One reason is that before 2002 Pakistani intelligence agencies and the military were supportive of “mujahideens” of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan era, and allowing them to operate, not only in the AFPAK/India region, but all over the world. Shuja Nawaz, in his famous book “Cross Swords”, wrote about the born-again Muslims in the Army like Lieutenant-General Javed Nasir, who -- hand-picked by Nawaz Sharif as ISI`s Director General -- got the ISI involved in the “jihad”, farther than Kashmir and Afghanistan. He involved the ISI in Central Asia, Sri Lanka and Arakan where the Muslim groups were fighting for independent enclave. After the 9/11 Musharraf’s military dispensation could not maintain their traditional policies on the face of world pressure and they had to sever their relationship with the terror forces. When these organizations became orphans and their "guardians" – who were nourishing them for years -- turned against them and asked them to lay their arms or face the wrath of military operation, these terrorist groups began their gruesome attacks in Pakistan. Later developments demonstrated that even when the Pakistani agencies were helping them, these militant organizations had no plan to provide any benefit to Pakistan as a state. They had long drawn plans to bring their version of Shariah on Pakistan, force the whole society to accept the Islam they consider is right, cleanse the whole country from Shias, Ismailis and non-Muslim minorities and take over the Pakistan’s mighty military with huge arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Media pundits are arguing about the geo-political scenario after US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Actually – as most experts agree -- it all depends what will be the policy of Pakistani security agencies towards these terror forces. In Pakistan, even at the “post-23 FC men killing” time, there is a support of the view –especially among the JI/JUI (F)/PTI and significant number of PML (N) medium and low level leadership -- that the agencies should go back to the support of these "assets" and once again Pakistani security establishment should renew their old relations to let them operate in the region. Unfortunately, at one hand the establishment seems to be ready to deal with TTP but at the other hand people like Masood Azhar is still allowed to operate in Pakistan. Also, the PML (N) top leadership allegedly involved in supporting militant factions in Punjab who are openly claiming responsibility of murdering Hazara and Shia Muslims. These realities on the ground show that there is a chance that after US withdrawal, our agencies and some political parties would begin the same lethal game of flirting the terrorists, which -- this time – could take the country to its terminal decline as a state. Another fear -- after the recent visit by Saudi’s Crown Prince and looking into the joint statement after the meetings -- is that PM Nawaz Sharif and military establishment would provide these terrorists a safe passage so that Saudis will use them in Syria against the government of Bashar-ul Asad. If this fear is materialized then for some time Pakistanis may observe calm inside the country vis-à-vis terrorism but this will be another recipe of disaster. Once the goals in Syria will be achieved these characters will be left to go anywhere and operate the way they want. That time Saudis will take their hands off like they did after 9/11 and Pakistan will be blamed for exporting terrorism once again. They can also come back to Pakistan and start claiming the land and new wave of terrorism will emerge. Pakistan must not get to this vicious circle to achieve short term peace and financial/diplomatic gains from the monarchs.
Security and defense analysts believe that situation on the ground has changed and the military top leadership now strongly believe that militancy as a tool did not work before and it will not work again. If this is the case then it will be a welcomed change. Before the US pulls out from Afghanistan, Pakistan should bring its house in order. Government already wasted months in getting engaged in appeasing the terrorists, appeasing the political parties who support the terrorists, now they should move very fast. The apologists are scaring people by saying that there will be strong backlash of any military operation in the cities so we must keep talking and avoid military action “even the dialogs fail”. There will be a backlash but it should always be remembered – as per the statement of General Kyani, quoted by a senior and credible columnist -- that the 40% part of the terrorist power, which is drawn from their core, is controlling the other 60%, which is spread in the cities. Once the mother ship – their center in North Waziristan -- is destroyed, the remaining 60% child ships – the so called sleeper cells -- will lose their oxygen supply and they can be slowly taken away by organized police/para-military actions in the cities. Without the umbilical cord, the people in the sleeper cells will be melted away in the public. The groups killing Shias and Hazaras will also become power less and inactive once they lose their life line from the TTP, Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups in the tribal areas. Terrorism is like a thick sludge, if one takes out part of it, other sides fill the gap. To remove the menace of terrorism, it has to be removed completely. Pakistan must learn that using militancy as a tool for its foreign and defense policies will never work. Its forces must clip the wings of these elements and make them disenfranchised and powerless once for all.