I Opyne

Stereotyping FATA

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Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is one of those people who gets respect from both his supporters as well as opponents, and deservedly so. These days, when Islam is being associated with beheadings and bomb blasts, it is because of scholars like Dr. Javed Ghamidi that one cannot do a negative generalization about Islamic teachings.

However, while saving Islam from negative generalizations, Dr. Ghamidi himself has resorted to generalizations about tribal Pashtuns, that are as racist and as unreasonable as some of those done about Muslims.

In his show, “Ghamidi kay Saath“, aired on Sama TV on 21st of February, Dr. Ghamidi was asked why the Taliban behead their opponents.

In his response, Mr. Ghamidi points out two main reasons,

1- Wrong interpretation of Islamic injunctions

2- Tribal norms and upbringing

While absolving Islamic injunctions for being wrongly interpreted, Ghamidi sahib puts the rest of the blame upon tribal norms and culture. Not even considering the possibility that by beheading prisoners, the Taliban might not only be violating Islamic norms of conduct but also tribal ones.

To elaborate his point, Mr. Ghamidi tells the non-tribal host of the program that while the two of them might not even consider slaughtering a chicken, thanks to a non-tribal “parwarish aur tarbiat” (upbringing), in tribal society however, even a six year old qabaili (tribal) child would have no qualms about slaughtering a grown up man.

As per Dr. Ghamidi, gore and violence comes naturally to Pashtun tribals as these are “mamooli batain” (normal things) for this lot. And it didn’t stop at that, as a caller declared all tribal Pashtuns to be mercenaries who have been historically up for grabs for the highest bidder. Dr. Ghamidi’s response to this racist and ignorant assertion was at best confusing.

Generalizations such as these should come across as shocking in any civilized society, but I guess Pakistani society by and large has not evolved to a point where individuals are judged according to their actions rather than their domicile certificates. Pick up any cellphone in Pakistan and it is likely to have an SMSed joke about Pashtun stupidity that has resulted in some outlandish behavior, be it sexual or violent. Leveraging this readily believable understanding about Pashtuns, many scholars, anchors, as well as politicians have gotten away with blatantly racist statements, as they rarely get called out for it.

But then generalization based on ethnicity have never stood up to rational scrutiny, whether they are done against Punjabis, Urdu-Speakers, Arabs or any other ethnicity. Like it or not, but there is no inferiority or superiority gene in anyone’s DNA, the second world war should have taught us that. People from a similar cultural background can have completely different outlooks towards life; urban Punjab for instance claims the Honorable Chief Justice Javed Iqbal, and also the serial killer Javed Iqbal.

Dr. Ghamidi’s assertion lacks any evidence to support his claim about this inherently violent behavior among Pashtun tribals, as he merely quotes theories about tribals in general and anecdotes about Pashtun tribals in particular that are dated back to the Mujahideen of the 80s.

However, it should be known that the history of FATA goes beyond the 1980s. One should consider why tribal FATA boasts bigger Sikh communities than non-tribal Western Punjab? What exactly were six-year-old Afridis and Orakazais up to in 1947, when Sikhs were getting lynched in their homes in Sheikhupura, Lyallpur and Gujranwala?

If 6-year-old children are okay with beheading grown up men in the name of Islam, then for sure the same could be done in the name of settling tribal feuds as well. I was wondering if Dr. Ghamidi or anyone else for that matter could come up with instances where Pashtun tribes had made mounds out of the heads of their rivals? There for sure must be some evidence out there to have convinced Dr. Ghamidi to be so certain in associating violence with tribal upbringing? If running feuds is enough of a reason, then how different are the inter-generational feuds in Waziristan from those in Gujranwala?

Interestingly, there are tribal lashkars fighting against the Taliban, but am yet to hear of a beheading that was carried out by anti Taliban tribals. If it was the normal thing to do among tribals, and the fact that Taliban are beheading members of these very lashkars, then how come these anti Taliban tribals are not resorting to beheadings as well?

On the other hand, was Ilyas Kashmiri also a product of qabaili upbringing that he was able to bring back severed heads of Indian soldiers? Can Punjabi Taliban also claim domiciles of FATA? If not then what exactly explains their unquenchable thirst for Shia blood?

It is a valid question to ask why the Taliban are overwhelmingly Pashtun, but then it is also wrong to ignore the “strategic” reasons behind it. FATA has served as a parking lot for Pakistan’s “strategic assets”: an area assigned to the production of cannon fodder to fight our proxy wars.

Billions of dollars have been funneled into FATA to not only turn civilians into soldiers but also to numb down the tribal spirit in order to make way for the “ummah”. As a result, Taliban Mehsuds have teamed up with Taliban Uzbeks to kill and oppress non-Taliban Mehsuds; an act which is sacrilegious under tribal norms, but is according to Taliban shariah. Taliban rule in FATA comes at the expense of the tribal way of life, and in no way compliments it.

Taliban norms of fighting are comparable to those of Jihadis stretching from Somalia to Syria and all the way to Chechnya, as they are all linked through a common interpretation of Islam. These norms are as shocking to the feuding families of Waziristan as they would be to the feuding families of Gujranwala.

As for the legendary “warrior” abilities of the “violent” tribal Pashtuns, one only has to visit any IDP camp to see how “comfortable” these people are with wars. In their thousands, grown up Pashtun men have fled for safety and are cuing up for food and water just like war weary men would in any other part of the world. That warrior spirit and that fabled thirst for revenge, which is so clearly visible from the comforts of drawing rooms and TV studios, is certainly missing in these camps.

The majority of Taliban might be tribal Pashtuns, but a majority of tribal Pashtuns are NOT Taliban. Anyone and everyone, who resorts to these racist generalizations about Pashtun tribals need to prove it with evidence.

Published in The News on 25th February 2014

Written by Imran Khan

February 25, 2014 at 6:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Saving Waziristan

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They say success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. That seems to be the case for the ‘muzakraat’ solution that had been pushed so persistently by almost all political parties who are currently in power.

Whether it was the PML-N, PTI, JI or JUI-F, they until recently claimed that the Taliban were just waiting for an assurance that we are not fighting “someone else’s war”, an assurance that the previous “corrupt” government was unwilling to give.

But ever since these parties have come into power, they have resorted to U-turns that are somewhat proportional to their ability of implementing the much-touted muzakraat solution. Imran Khan has downgraded ‘muzakraat’ from being an ‘only’ solution to one that should at least be tried before military action.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who always insisted that the Taliban are “our people”, is now suddenly counting the number of attacks that his family and party have suffered at the hands of the same ‘our people’. But most importantly, Mian Nawaz Sharif, the one who assured everyone about the wisdom behind muzakraat, is now increasingly growing impatient with the carnage that is going on under his watch.

But it is the same PML-N, which, back in October 2012, in the aftermath of the attack on Malala Yousafzai, opposed the PPP’s bid for launching an operation in Waziristan. Yet, 16 months and 7,000 dead Pakistanis later, the PML-N has ordered PAF to bomb out militant hideouts in Waziristan.

So what changed exactly? Was the December 2012 explosion that killed nine in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar any different from the one that killed 10 in the same Qissa Khawani in September 2013? Was the TTP’s video of shooting 21 handcuffed and blindfolded Pakistani soldiers in December 2012 any less gruesome than that of the 23 beheaded ones in February 2014?

The only thing that has changed is that the PPP has been replaced by the PML-N, a party that claimed that it could bring peace without firing any bullets. But now when it’s time to finally fulfil his election promise, Mian Sahib is going back to a solution that he opposed before we had lost 7,000 precious lives.

But is just unleashing the army upon Waziristan going to solve everything?

To begin with, our counter insurgency efforts leave a lot to be desired, the bulldozed town of Loi Sum in Bajaur and the use of F-16s to bomb civilian areas are testament to that. Even the Indian army refrains from air strikes in Kashmir, an option that seems to be very convenient for our army when it comes to Fata.

But more importantly, the essential prerequisite for fighting this war is to realise that the Taliban are holding Waziristanis as hostages, and any war aimed at liberating these hostages should not simply assume them to be necessary collateral damage. However, to arrive at that aim, we have to first do away with an assumption that is seemingly built into our definition of ‘national interest’, which is to assume the people of Fata to be lesser Pakistanis of the dispensable kind.

This is not an emotional statement, the proof of this lies in the dichotomy between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. It is fairly obvious that the ‘bad’ Taliban are those who dare to impose or inflict upon Pakistan, what the ‘good’ Taliban have already imposed or inflicted upon Waziristan. The only thing that differentiates the good Taliban from the bad ones is the domiciles of their Pakistani victims.

And this hypocrisy does not stop at the strategic level, it is also glaringly obvious in our national debate on this issue. Our national indignation was so palpable over the audacity of the bad Taliban to even contemplate the notion of imposing their Shariah on us, but then at the same time we have been completely indifferent towards the fact that the good Taliban have already subjected ordinary Waziristanis to that same brand of Shariah.

We get horrified at the prospect of the bad Taliban banning polio vaccinations for our children, but then don’t even consider it worth our time to recognise the risks faced by Waziristani children whose access to polio drops have already been blocked by the good Taliban.

An operation into Waziristan shouldn’t be an exercise to make an example out of the bad Taliban so that the good ones stick to their ‘good’ behaviour. Good Taliban, by virtue of their identity as Taliban, are bad for Pakistanis who are living under their rule. That alone should be enough of a reason for rescuing these Pakistanis. But for that we need to accept Waziristanis as Pakistanis, both in strategy as well as in our national narrative on this issue.

It is high time we thought of new strategies to counter any threats from Afghanistan and India, strategies that do not require sacrifice of lesser Pakistanis to secure the heartland. No rational group of people could ever agree to this perpetually, and the people of Fata are as rational as any other group in Pakistan. If we are to survive as a federation then the need is to consider the Malalas of Waziristan to be as valuable as the Malalas of Rawalpindi and then do our strategic thinking.

Waziristan is in need of rescuing, but more than the Taliban it needs to be rescued from the policies that have relegated it to an area where we park our strategic assets and produce cannon fodder for our proxy wars.

Unless we do away with that strategy, this upcoming harvest of the bad Taliban will only provide a temporary relief, because as long as we are sowing and nurturing good Taliban, we will be reaping these bad ones as well, the ones that forget the difference between Kabul and Rawalpindi.

Published in The News on February 23, 2014.

Written by Imran Khan

February 23, 2014 at 5:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Uneasy Unload

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During the run-up to Election 2013, the phrase ‘baba ta easy load ka’ (send baba some easy load) had become the bane of the ANP’s existence. Talk about the 800 martyrs of ANP and the response would be: “yes, but baba ta easy load ka”. Mention the party’s defiance against the TTP and the response would be: “true, but baba ta easy load ka”.

The ANP’s fact-finding mission, which was tasked with investigating the reason for the party’s electoral defeat, declared ‘baba’ – Azam Khan Hoti – as one of the main culprits.

In response Hoti came out lashing at the ANP’s top leadership, as he alleged that Asfandyar Khan received a whooping $350 million bribe from the US.

It would have been better for Hoti Sahib had he stopped there and spoken of some secret Swiss accounts. But instead he used a very morbid yet poetic analogy to suggest that the blood of the ANP’s 800 martyrs is being used as oil in the lamps of Asfandyar’s hotels in Malaysia and palaces in Dubai.

While the analogy was good enough to be played repeatedly on all news channels, it also increased the burden of proof for Hoti. He is absolutely right in saying that such transfers of money don’t come with receipts. But then he must also know that property ownership does not come without title deeds. If there are hotels and palaces, then they must have names and addresses.

These allegations have been around for a while now, and Hoti could have finally substantiated these with evidence. But instead, he simply repeated what has already been said. The credibility of these allegations then can be judged from the fact that even a former close confidant of Asfandyar Khan does not have any evidence to prove them.

Given this fact, it is surprising to see the level of acceptance these allegations are finding among workers of the ANP’s opposition parties. It is very likely that if ‘Easy Load’ baba decided to join any of their parties he would face stiff opposition from these same workers – because of his lack of credibility.

An amount of $350 million is not given for nothing. The ANP would have been worth such a price tag had its stance on the war on terror been contrary to that of the United States. It would have made sense to buy the ANP had it been screaming about blocking Nato supply routes, or calling the war on terror to be ‘someone else’s war’ or referring to the Taliban as ‘our people’.

But it did none of that, and that is because the ANP’s war against this madness started way before 9/11. At a time when the Haqqani network was gracing the lawns of the White House, and John Rambo was shooting down Russian helicopters with arrows. For the ANP this is an existential war, and not an adventure in a far-off land that comes with a cut-and-run option. It is the US that woke up to this threat in 2001. Bacha Khan and Wali Khan had forewarned about these dangers two decades before that, when the US was nurturing these very monsters.

If the ANP was opposing these extremists when the US was supporting them, then why would the ANP change its stance just because the US had a change of heart? It was the ANP’s war way before it became the United States’ war.

However, if one has to look for some incumbency induced pro-US mood swings then one shouldn’t look beyond the PML-N, the PTI and the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The ‘pro-negotiations’ Nawaz Sharif is now tilting heavily towards ‘other options’, given the 779 deaths since he took office. Amazingly, it is an epiphany that did not dawn upon him while Pakistan was raking up 40,000 deaths during the last ten years.

The principled PTI, the one that was convinced about foreign aid being a curse for Pakistan, is now building a Naya Pakhtunkhwa with funds from donors belonging to the Nato alliance.

The feisty Jamaat-e-Islami, the one that used to dharna-block Nato supply routes, had until recently switched to blocking any resolution that asked for banning Nato supplies from passing through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

All one has to do is to wear a conspiracy-laden fez and ask why these hawks of five months ago are now suddenly cooing like pigeons? For starters one could consider the proximity of US embassy to both the PM House as well as Bani Gala.

The plot would thicken by also pondering upon those post-victory trips to the west; Nawaz Sharif meeting Obama, Imran Khan hobnobbing with British royalty and Sirajul Haq roaming around Europe. And with this overwhelming evidence about contacts with the CIA and the MI5, all one has to do is to throw in a neat little figure of $350 million per party and it should all start making ‘sense’.

If this sounds preposterous then Azam Khan’s claims should sound twice as crazy. The U-turns of the PML-N, PTI and JI can be explained in the context of their empty election promises; peace in 90 days, breaking the IMF kashkol, saying no to foreign aid, negotiations the ‘only’ solution etc. With the votes securely bagged these parties are now gradually switching to the policies of the last five years, especially on the war on terror.

It is yet to be seen whether the chest thumping over Hakeemullah’s death is just playing to the galleries or something more. But one thing is for sure: by considering options other than negotiations these parties have vindicated the stance of the ANP and the PPP, a stance that included the Swat agreement as well as a block on Nato supplies. It is time to accept that maybe, just maybe, negotiations never were an option – a lesson we should have learnt from the failure of the Swat agreement and many others – and that this has always been our own war and not someone else’s.

And once that realisation sinks in, then it is easy to see that foreign money is not needed as an incentive to fight one’s own war. Because when the threat is to one’s existence and there is no option of flight, then the only option left is to fight.

Published in The News on 6th November 2013.

Written by Imran Khan

February 23, 2014 at 5:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

طالبان کی وینا ملک

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Written by Imran Khan

September 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Posted in Taliban

NA-1: The Tsunami Breaker

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By the morning of May 12th, PTI’s tsunami had officially swept through Peshawar valley. This was a victory that was mostly at the expense of the ANP, thus prompting many to declare it to be a spent force, the strongest proof of which was the routing of Ghulam Ahmad Bilour on NA-1 and that too with a mammoth margin of 66 thousand votes. But yet, just two months later, Ghulam Bilour has reclaimed his seat.

So what happened exactly?

One explanation paints the PTI as being alone against an alliance of ANP, PPP, and JUI-F and thus overwhelmed by its experienced opposition. But then that is factually incorrect as PTI had its own set of allies, including the Jamat I Islami (JI) and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP). Furthermore, the local leadership of PML-N had also announced its support for PTI. The strength of these two alliances can be assessed from their performance during the recent general elections. On May 11th, PPP and JUI-F had a total of 11,859 votes while JI, QWP and PML-N had 12,977 votes for NA-1. Based on these numbers, PTI actually had a stronger rather than a weaker electoral alliance when compared with ANP.

The selection of Gul Bacha is another reason cited for PTI’s defeat, as he was a “non-entity”. But then just two months ago another non-entity by the name of Javed Nasim defeated Haroon Bilour on PK-3. It should be mentioned here that this is the constituency of Bashir Bilour Shaheed, one that he managed to maintain even during MMA’s whitewash of 2002. But yet despite Bashir Bilour’s martyrdom, PK-3 preferred a non-entity to his son, perhaps because the non-entity came with the name of PTI; a name that generated trust and hope.

In my opinion PTI’s defeat in NA-1 is a weakening of its ability to generate trust. It was this particular ability that allowed PTI to sweep Peshawar valley with mere non-entities. But now that trust is being squandered because of the immature behavior of its leadership and more importantly through the inability of KP government to deliver on its promises.

The immaturity of PTI’s leadership was evident in the way it dealt with Samad Mursalin. This is the same Samad Mursalin who ran from PF-2 (now PK-2, a sub constituency of NA-1) on a PTI ticket in 1997. He was the face of PTI in Peshawar city back in the 90s. One would expect that considering Samad’s long time association, Imran Khan himself would try to defuse the situation, by convincing Samad in person.

However, it appears that Imran Khan was actually avoiding Samad, and that too in the most ridiculous of manners. Apparently when Samad tried meeting with Imran Khan at the CM house Peshawar, he was tricked into going into a waiting room and then was locked inside along with his workers. They were allowed to leave only after Imran Khan had left the premises. Samad’s angry press conference after this incident was reported in the national as well as local press.

Subsequently, the provincial leadership made a few half-hearted attempts, but then publicly announced the cancellation of Samad’s membership right before election. And just for extra measure called him a “back stabber” in an official statement. Samad’s reaction to this childish behavior needs to be seen as more of a response to an insult rather than a breach of loyalty.

But would a mere ticket allocation explain this defeat? Many claim an unofficial victory for PTI by saying that the sum total of Samad’s and Gul Bacha’s votes is more than that of the ANP. However, this claim is factually incorrect, as according to ECP; Samad received a total of 1,707 votes, while Gul Bacha received 28,911. Their total of 30,681 votes is still less than that of ANP at 34,386 votes. So even if there were no splits, PTI still would have either lost this seat or managed a very close win.

Surely this massive reduction of 66,000 votes and that too within a span of two months cant only be associated with the selection of a wrong candidate. A constituency of 320,000 registered voters must have had other issues that affected its voting decision.

In my opinion this is where PTI’s performance comes into play, and 83 days is more than enough of a time to assess promises that were made to be fulfilled within 90 days. It is very clear that PTI has been unable to meet the standards of governance and conduct which it demanded of previous Government and which it promised to its voters.

But besides not being able to meet its own set standards, PTI is also struggling to match up with its predecessors. This is especially true when it comes to the issue of terrorism, an issue that is central to the terror ridden constituency of NA-1, whose Qissa Khawani bazar has been a preferred target of the Taliban.

It is no coincidence that after the arrival of PTI’s government, there has been a sudden increase in Taliban’s extortion activities in Peshawar. This has mainly affected the business community a substantial proportion of which is based in the inner city, an area that falls under NA-1.

The Government’s response has largely been ineffective as there are reports of a demoralized police force, with some officials blaming the PTI government for a lack of resolve in fighting the TTP. This lack is evident in the inability of PTI’s government to even condemn the Taliban.

On talk shows it has become a joke to get an unconditional condemnation of the TTP from KP’s ministers, with both opposition leaders as well as anchors daring PTI leaders to do so. Shaukat Yousafzai, on Nasim Zehra’s show, went to the extent of saying that he had not heard about TTP’s threats to the ANP, PPP and MQM and therefore will not condemn them.

While such wisdom buys safety for PTI’s leadership, it is also costing them the trust of the people who came out in droves to vote for PTI. It is very likely that the tsunami that began in Peshawar valley could very well end here as well and from the looks of it, the process for that might have already started.

Published in The News on the 27th of August 2013.

Written by Imran Khan

August 27, 2013 at 4:33 am

Posted in ANP, Democracy, Pakhtunkhwa, PTI, Taliban

Tagged with , ,

The Lesser Khakis

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In the aftermath of D.I.Khan’s jail break, Pakhtunkhwa’s minister for Revenue and Estate, Ali Amin Khan Gandapur visited the jail. Talking to reporters he expressed his frustration with both the army and police for being unable to thwart this attack.

He began by pointing out that despite the presence of two brigades in D.I.Khan cantonment, the army did not engage the terrorists. On this, the minister decently expressed some “tahafuzaat” (reservations).

But then he turned his attention towards the police, and out come accolades such as “Nikamay”, “Nikhatu”, and “Buzdil”. The good minister seemed disgusted with the fact that only 5 policemen were martyred. As body counts of “at least 50 if not 100” are decent estimates of bravery.

This disgust for the police and respectful grumbles for army is something not particular to Mr. Gandapur. It reflects the mindset of this nation. From political talk shows to comedy stage shows, castigation and ridicule of our police is the norm.

Those justifying this discrimination, do it by declaring Police to be corrupt, and therefore less respectable than army. But scandals like NLC refute the myth of an incorruptible army. Furthermore, our three military dictatorships can be accredited with most if not all of the problems we face today. Effects of Police bribery seems puny when compared with this.

But blaming the army as a whole is deemed offensive, because an institution should not be blamed for the deeds of some individuals. After all, Zia ul Haq and Major Aziz Bhatti Shaheed were two completely different people. One was a traitor, while the other a martyr.

And I agree, while no institution should be above accountability, generalizations based on uniforms are unfair. Our army is composed of far too many patriots than those who exploit the leverage associated with their uniform. The ultimate proof of their patriotism is a willingness to embrace martyrdom and a long list of those who already have.

But then how is our police any different? Has it not offered its own martyrs? Pakhtunkhwa’s Police, alone has a list of more than 1000 in the last 10 years, add to it those from other provinces and you have many more.

Police constables across Pakistan man check points knowing very well that the next driver might be a suicide bomber. Many of us today owe our lives to a split second decision of some brave police martyr who chose country over life. How is this display of patriotism any different from that of the soldiers who man our borders?

Names like Malik Saad Shaheed, Sifwat Ghayur Shaheed, Fayyaz Ahmad Sumbal Shaheed and many others are no less in stature than names like Major Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed, Sawar Muhammad Hussain Shaheed, and Sher Khan Shaheed. Both groups were the sons of this soil, who died with their boots on and presented Pakistan with the ultimate sacrifice. But yet, there is no Noor Jehan to sing for the martyrs of our Police and no national day to celebrate their sacrifice.

On the 8th of August a bombing in Balochistan wiped out some of its top police officials, an attack which in its magnitude seems similar to the one on Malik Saad Shaheed that decimated the top brass of Pakhtunkhwa police, a loss from which the province is yet to recover.

But Pakistan, as a whole, did not care on that blood soaked eve. Instead what came to the fore was the face of Mufti Muneeb and the joys of eating vermicelli. The headline news on PTV at 10 pm began with the Eid announcement, followed by the PM getting a briefing on the LoC situation and then came the news about the 38 martyrs of Quetta. Private news channels were no different.

Any self-respecting nation would have flown its flag half-mast to honor this sacrifice. Instead these martyrs were honored with the cancellation of PM’s “Eid Milan party”, and that alone was deemed as sufficient.

Are we so blind to realize that these men were targeted because of their uniform, a uniform they donned to defend this thankless mob of 180 million? But, forget the rest of Pakistan, even Quetta reverberated with joyous aerial firing on the eve of this massacre.

The aftermath of D.I.Khan’s jailbreak has also been marred by the same bias that underestimates the abilities and courage of our police. Its analysis usually starts with the Taliban arrival at the gates of the jail, ignoring their journey from Waziristan to D.I.Khan and back. By beginning from the gates of the jail, this version conveniently cites “low morale”, “cowardice” and a lack of training as probable reasons of failure. All of which implicate the police.

While there is no doubt that police morale has been lowered due to the inane policies of the current KP government, and that it can definitely do with better equipment and training. But using these excuses for the D.I.Khan incident is a bit of a stretch.

The terrorists originated from Waziristan and went back there unchallenged. If cowardice and low morale is to explain police reluctance to engage, then the same should explain the reluctance at several army checkpoints as well as that of the two brigades present in DI Khan cantt.

It does not make sense to say that thousands of uniformed men from both the police and army had a simultaneous and sudden attack of cowardice. It is possible that these men might have been ordered to stand down, and it is essential that this possibility be investigated. Making a scapegoat of the police will only demoralize them further.

Nations honor and celebrate their martyrs. It is one of those things that differentiates a nation from a mob. This Eid, Pakistan acted like a mob, a shameless and thankless mob. It is high time that we start acting like a nation because acting like one is essential for surviving as one.

 Published in The News on 15th of August 2013, under the title “Police: how many should die?”

Written by Imran Khan

August 15, 2013 at 5:02 am

Martyrs or Vermicelli?

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There is one thing that you have to give credit to the Taliban for, which is that their brutality can exceed the wildest imagination of most fiction writers.

Consider the recent attack in Quetta. 38 people butchered of which 19 were police officials. The attack was on a funeral, which too was arranged for by the Taliban. For that they attacked an SHO who had taken out his children for Eid shopping. The children were injured but their father was dead. An eid gift from the bearded Talib uncle. Ramzan, children, funeral, and all of that planned to the finest detail, can one be more heartless?

These 20 police officials did not have any personal enmity with the Taliban. Their sole crime was to wear their uniform, the one that they had donned to defend the likes of you and me.

In other words, these men were killed in the name of Pakistan. And the motive most probably was to send a message to us Pakistanis.

But the vilest of villains might just have met their match, in the form of the most indifferent of victims. Turns out TTP’s thunder was stolen by Mufti Muneeb and his promise of vermicelli. Because what mattered to Pakistanis on the eve of 8th of August was if they will be waking up for sehri or will there be vermicelli for breakfast? Shaheed gai bhaar main.

In my opinion we probably told the TTP to try harder. The bond of the word “Pakistani” is not that strong to make strangers ache for each other. The people that they did impact were the immediate family and friends of the deceased and those are a pretty small proportion of the Pakistani population.

I mean we could actually calculate an estimate of the people that the Taliban did affect in their last ten years of carnage. A rough estimate of TTP related deaths stands at around 40,000. Lets assume a family size of 7, and they have actually affected about 280,000 immediate family members. Throw in a circle of friends and extended family of around 14, and that’s another 560,000. Add these up and it’s a total of 840,000, add in a few suffering from Pakistaniat and we have a nice total of around 1 million affectees.

In proportionate terms that is nothing, as it is only 0.5% of Pakistan. If the TTP thinks its hurting the 180 million strong Pakistani nation by bombing and decapitating an insignificant minority then they are being deluded.

To many, our ability to not care about such incidents represents defiance and it somehow shows our “resilience”. I agree that we cannot give up on our way of life by succumbing to terror. But did we really show our defiance this Eid?

Defiance would have begun with a complete official focus on the incident. The Prime Minister, President, Federal Interior Minister, CM Balochistan and Governor should have all reached out to Balochistan police in every way possible. Making sure that the enemy knows that the elected symbols of state stand by its uniformed defenders. Our flag should have flown half-mast for the entirety of Eid, and our PM should have announced that this Eid be dedicated to the martyrs of Quetta.

Our clergy should have made a point in mentioning this incident in the two khutbas that day and castigated those who use Islam in such actions. Duas should have been dedicated to these martyrs and also to the families that they have left behind.

Our media should have focused on the sacrifice that our police is rendering, with the aim to galvanize this nation into honoring its defenders. It would have made these martyrs household names for the nation to cherish.

And with all that, we could have eaten our vermicelli, worn news clothes, and hugged each other Eid Mubarik. In doing so, we would have sent a strong message of resilience and defiance, that we still remember those who sacrificed their lives for us but we are not going to give up on our way of life. We are grateful to our martyrs and we will bring their murderers to justice.

But was it this way?

Well, not even close.

The Government’s response was pathetic at best. Nawaz Sharif, fresh from his umrah trip, simply sent his condolences and said that his Government is committed to eliminating terrorism. As usual, this “promise for future action” failed to name the Tehreek I Taliban Pakistan who had proudly taken responsibility of the incident. While the flag flew full mast on his office, the PM sahib was gracious enough to cancel an “Eid Milan party”.

Our Interior Minister saw it fit to spend Eid with his family rather than to rush to Quetta like he did after the Balochistan Medical Complex (BMC) attack. He showed up in Quetta on the 11th, i.e. 3 days after the blast to give this statementI pay tribute to the martyrs and the deceased who have lost their lives in the recent attacks and we want to assure everyone that an investigation is underway.” I wonder if someone could tell Chaudhry Sb, that the guilty have admitted to their guilt for the 100th time now. What exactly would he be investigating?

One wonders what happened to the Chaudhry sb, who only a month ago lashed out this strongly at the security agencies for the BMC attack? He has been awfully silent after that outburst.

And if you thought that the straight shooters of the nationalist government of Balochistan would come to the fore and reply to the TTP, then that too would be a pretty high expectation. When IG Balochistan did his press conference, there was no one from the federal or the provincial government by his side.

This was such a contrast to this press conference after the BMC attack, in which Nawaz Sharif was flanked by Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Mir Hasil Bizenjo and accompanied by DG ISI and DG IB. Where were these same people after this recent massacre? Didn’t they promise us the world after BMC?

This Friday gave our clergy that rare opportunity to give two khutbas. From what I could gather on twitter as well as from relatives and friends, almost every other mosque had nimazis chanting “ameen” for success of “Mujahideen”. Conveniently forgotten was the fact that the “success” of Mujahideen was in splattering the innards of these very nimazis on the floors of their mosques.  And that the sole hurdle to that success was dressed in a police uniform and standing guard outside, ready to sacrifice his own life for the safety of those who were praying for his death.


Pakistani media was no less disappointing than the clergy that prayed for the success of our killers. On the day of the bombing, by 9 pm the news had become the second most important news of the day i.e. before the martyrs were even buried. Here is GEO’s 9 pm bulletin and here is Dunya’s. Notice that in Dunya’s bulletin, the story of Quetta attack comes at around 27th minute. It was preceded by reports such as Reshma taunting Meera and interviews of people coming out of aitikaaf.

Media anchors were a mixed bunch on the 8th of August. Talat Hussain, Abdul Malik, Ejaz Haider and Javed Choudhry, canceled their regular Eid shows to cover this incident, and perhaps represented the only concerted and dedicated effort from our electronic media on this issue. Nadeem Malik and Abdul Moiz Jaffri added the incident to their regular topics.

But then we had Mehr Abbasi who was out on the streets talking about Eid shopping. Fareeha Idrees cashed in on the comic value of Sheikh Rasheed which has become so necessary for getting a rating push these days. Mr. Kharra Such, Mubashir Luqman invited two palmists. He actually began the show by claiming that he invites palmists when he has “no other topics to cover”. Asma Sherazi did a “gup shup” eid show to do “khushi key batain” while Moeed Pirzada focused on India Pakistan LoC tension. And then Waseem Badami along with Junaid Jamshed pondered if their “Shaan e Ramzan” show was as good as the show that they were trying to copy.

Talat especially pointed out the absurdity of our media in focusing on Eid shopping and Mufti Muneeb. Ironically, his own program got interrupted to facilitate Mufti Muneeb’s announcement. Watch his show, at around 4:25, when the reporter from Quetta is cut off mid sentence to beam Mufti Muneeb’s announcement live.

The owners of all media channels who make tall claims of bringing about a revolution in this country seemed very reluctant to cancel on their money making plans of fun and masti for the next three days. There were no exceptions. As from the 9th of August, the Quetta incident simply disappeared from all programming and gup shup shows featuring our giggling media anchors came to the fore.

But what takes the cake for me is this cartoon from Roznama Nai Baat on its Quetta edition for the 9th of August. This was on the back page, while the front page carried the news of the Quetta massacre.


This pretty much sums up what we think of our police. A bunch of corrupt thieves whose sole aim in life is to rip us off of our money. Forget about this being in very bad taste because that would be too much to expect. But the irony is that this concern about corruption, that clearly outweighs the sacrifice of our police martyrs, is coming from a nation that has one of the lowest tax/GDP ratio in the world, i.e. a nation of tax thieves.

If this Eid signified our resilience then we need to redefine this word. We need to redefine it as the ability to not give a damn about tragedies befalling those who are neither friends nor family, the word Pakistani should not matter.

Define it like that, and yes, we might be the most resilient nation in the world.

A salute to our martyrs who have definitely been spared from this particular national trait.

I just wonder how many more of them are left?

Written by Imran Khan

August 12, 2013 at 6:52 am


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