In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

A Wild Outburst


Reading the article 'Shame on you, Mr. Khan' by Feisal H. Naqvi, published in The Express Tribune on October 16, I was really surprised that it came from an advocate of the Supreme Court, but soon realized my mistake: this is Pakistan where all sorts of things can happen here.

The writer blasts Imran for not showing the same degree of Courage as Malala, but then had Malala been years younger, she would have displayed even greater courage simply because our threat perception develops and becomes clearer with age. Long time back, I read a news report about South Africa: a house-maid rushed to her madam screaming that the baby had bitten a snake. Her madam thought perhaps the panicked maid said just the reverse but on rushing out to the lawn, she saw a small dead snake whom the child had put in his mouth and bit hard, like toddlers do with anything they get hold of. Obviously, a grown-up would not have demonstrated that much 'courage' and would have used other means to deal with the snake though I must admit an enraged Nepalese farmer recently accomplished the feat of biting a snake to death. With passing years, we all get older but some of us even manage to get wiser and they adopt ways that would help them achieve their objectives with the minimum of losses and adverse consequences. People can take chances with their own lives but as leaders, they have additional responsibility for those around them which sometimes restricts their options.

Feisal also makes some statements which sound strange like "Let me make another thing clear: Mr Khan says that it is a tragedy for Pakistan to be bombing its own people. Actually, no. States use violence against their own citizens the whole time. A citizen who steals is jailed for theft. A citizen who kills another person is executed for murder. And citizens who take up arms against their own country are guilty of treason and thereby liable to be shot." He adds "The same goes for the "root cause" argument. Frankly, I couldn’t care less what inspires or motivates the TTP. I know that the TTP doesn’t accept the legitimacy of my country or my elected government. I know that they kill my fellow citizens. I know that they kill the soldiers who fight for my security. I don’t need to know the "root cause" of the TTP’s beliefs any more than I need to know about the childhood traumas of a psychopath threatening my family."

I think the spirit of justice demands that "one hundred guilty persons may escape rather than one innocent person made to suffer punishment." What it means is that the guilt has to be proved beyond all reasonable doubt in order for the person to be punished. However, is this due process of law followed when government is bombing its own people, or when drone strikes are killing them?. It us an established fact that despite all precautions, military operations and drone strikes do result in lot of innocent people getting killed, and evacuation of people imposes additional, uncalled for suffering on the people. Obviously, the people who suffer on account of this would turn against the government and swell the ranks of militants, thus aggravating the problem. As for the 'root cause' issue, Feisal may not need to know childhood traumas of a psychopath threatening his family, if that was the only, and an isolated incident, which could perhaps be solved by locking the person away, or putting him to death, after a due process of law of course, even though the civilized and proper way would be to try to rehabilitate him. However, if thousands of 'psychopath' are roaming around, doing their thing, some of whom may threaten Feisal's family, and others, again, and again, obviously a methodical approach would be required to deal with the situation satisfactorily and simple locking away, and putting to death won't do, more so when it is sure to aggravate the problem.

We know that while our governments have been unable to discharge their duties to people, those in tribal areas, Balochistan and some other areas have not been provided even the very basic facilities available elsewhere in Pakistan and when, frustrated wholly or at least partly by these deprivations, they adopt a nasty pattern, some of us suggest, "bomb them, bomb them all," which amounts to punishing the people for a fault, which was not theirs' to start with and for which the government bears the main responsibility for letting things deteriorate to such an extent.

Also, oversimplifying things in his usual fashion, Feisal claims that there are only two types of Taliban

(1) the Afghan Talibs indigenous to Afghanistan whose primary aim is to overthrow the US-supported government of Afghanistan and to take over power there. The writer firmly believes that some of these have settled in Fata and Balochistan, just across the Pak-Afghan border. He also believes that their only anger against Pakistan is because of its support to the US in fighting them and that they are the only targets of  US drones. In his view, if the US was to leave Afghanistan tomorrow, and if the Afghan Talibs were to retake power in Afghanistan, the Afghan Talibs would have no fundamental dispute with Pakistan. Feisal conveniently ignores some facts like Afghan-origin militants are not the only targets of drone attacks and a lot of innocent people including women and children have also been killed or disabled. The celebratory drone strike soon after the release of the US murderer and criminal Raymond Davis, that killed over forty people, most of them innocent civilians is but one example. Such attacks naturally create anti-Pakistan feelings among the tribesmen who see our government as siding with the Americans in killing its own people. This is a fact, not bullshit.

We also have to remember that if the Americans' only objective was to avenge 9/11 and to ensure security of US mainland, they could have have done so without two thousand fatalities and wasting hundreds of billions of dollars because Taliban had offered to hand over over Osama bin Laden for trial in a neutral country and to guarantee that attacks against the US mainland will not be launched from Afghanistan. Americans could also have very easily eliminated Osama when he was stuck in Tora Bora mountains. However, they let him escape so that they could later descend on our region in order to redraw the map of our country by creating a Greater Pashtonistan, an Indenpendent Balochistan and by neutralizing our nuclear assets, and to establish their strong presence in the region for their ultimate war with China. They thought that in the meantime, they could dismember Iraq and Iran but unfortunately for them, they got stuck in Iraq where the irregulars put up too much resistance, disrupting their schedule. However, plans against Pakistan are still on for which they want to leave sufficient troops in huge underground air bases built in Afghanistan after 2014, and even 2014 is two years away. As against costly Iraq operation, the Americans are now employing 'economy' packages like the one they are using against Syria, and against Pakistan, Americans in Afghanistan will also be assisted by their enthusiastic partners like Indians and Israelis, and others as well their own saboteurs planted in Pakistan. Feisal's forecast that with Americans' departure in 2014, even Pakistan-based Afghan militants will move to Afghanistan and together with indigenous Afghans, they will all get busy there nation-building, with no threat for Pakistan emanating from Afghanistan, is unrealistic to say the least.

(2) The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which consists of groups indigenous to Pakistan, who do not accept the legitimacy of the Pakistani state, and whose primary aim is to overthrow the elected government and take over power in Pakistan. Admitted they are a big problem but like explained above, our government is mainly to blame for letting things deteriorate to such an extent. Also, Feisal seems to be under the impression that all militants operating under this umbrella are one and the same, which is not the case . According to Imran Khan and others, there are about thirty groups operating under TTP umbrella who do not  all follow the same command-structure and are not equally steadfast in their beliefs. Obviously, these groups will also have people who have turned against the state of Pakistan solely for the reason that they see it as siding with the Americans in bombing and oppressing its own people. Imran Khan suggests negotiating with, and winning over as many of these border-line groups as possible and using them to isolate, and deal with the incorrigible elements, using appropriate force against them. The proposal is a sensible one, more so when we observe that after years of military action, and with more than forty thousand fatalities, we are nowhere near to solving the problem and even the military seems to be convinced that the problem can not be solved by the use of force alone. There simply is no point in wasting scarce resources on suicidal missions when an alternative strategy is available, which has so far been tried only piece-meal and not as part of a comprehensive plan to solve the problem with minimum losses and disruption.

It is heartening to note that a lot of parties and leaders seem to be coming round to the belief that immediate start of a full-fledged military operation in North Waziristan and elsewhere is not such a good idea: all cowards I suppose, and deserving to be shamed - if unsure, just ask Feisal.

S.R.H. Hashmi
Karachi
Vision Without Glasses

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