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The debate on drones has divided Pakistan into two clearly distinct camps, on the one side are those who are completely against the concept and constitute a majority, while on the other are those who condone these attacks. The latter point of view has often been criticized as treasonous, and for good reason, because it basically means that there are Pakistanis who are cheering the bombing of their own land by foreigners. But the question to ask is that why would these proponents support such actions?

The pro-drone camp makes the argument that because of adherence to the strategic depth doctrine, our army considers the Taliban a strategic asset. Given this consideration, they are not exactly fighting against these elements but are colluding with them at the expense of the Pakhtuns. The drones in this whole situation then act as agents of retribution for those who are affected by Taliban atrocities and are apparently abandoned by our military. Thus the support for drones in many ways is a result of sheer distrust in Pakistan’s military.

But the explanations from the pro-drone camp can very easily be discarded as conspiracy theories. After all, Pakistan army has lost thousands of soldiers as well as officers in the fight against extremism. The attacks on GHQ, army installations and even army mosques indicate that the Taliban do consider the Pakistan army as much a legitimate target as they would the American army.

While there is no doubt about the sacrifices rendered by our armed forces, there is evidence that suggests that considering Pak Fauj as a monolithic whole is not completely accurate. The latest example is the presence of OBL’s safe haven less than a kilometer away from Kakul Academy. This should be a distressing revelation because the total number of Pakistanis who died at the hands of OBL and his allies is many times the number of deaths on 9/11. For that reason it is indeed shocking to find out that the killer of thousands of our fellow Pakistanis was residing peacefully in the midst of our defenders.

But this is not the only paradox related to our war against terrorism, consider also the days of the FM Mullah, i.e. Mullah Fazlullah of Swat. Besides beheadings and bombings, the Mullah’s main instrument of terror was his FM station, his endless rants on radio terrorized the people of Swat for months. There too, the technology to jam his FM signals was easily available but never deployed. Apart from these there are countless other unofficial reports coming from Taliban controlled areas that speak of collusion between the enemy and our armed forces.

While the jury is still out on the collusion aspect, the only other explanation for these incidents is sheer incompetence. An incompetence that might not be limited to allowing OBL to find an abode next to Kakul, but also to allow others like him to roam and rule freely in FATA , an accusation that was leveled in the “Peshawar Declaration” of the Amn Tehreek, a declaration that also supports drone strikes.

Given the magnitude of these revelations, the need for evaluating our army’s performance is imminent. These are not minor oversights as their cost is measured in human lives. As per usual management practices, voluntary resignations or other performance related consequences are direly needed to make an example out of those who were found negligent in their duties, be it collusion or incompetence.

It goes without saying that the responsibility for doing that falls squarely on our political leadership. Some say that “leadership is all about courage”, well it’s about time our leaders showed a bit of that, especially in matters related to the army.

Appeared in Pakistan Today on the 6th of May 2011


Written by Imran Khan

May 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm

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