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Archive for the ‘Drones’ Category

Dealing with the Devil

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If the loss of a Pakistani life is the ultimate damage inflicted upon this country, then the Tehreek I Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been far more devastating than any other enemy of Pakistan. Whether its burning buses full of Shias, beheading soldiers, murdering politicians or shooting little children, the TTP has done it all and shamelessly taken responsibility for it. Such has been their onslaught that it has raised our national threshold for shock; bombings with single digit casualties have become somewhat of a norm these days.

But that’s not it, after murdering us in our thousands; the TTP now has the gall to make demands from us. This includes distancing our self from the United States’ War on Terror (WoT) and also that we reform our constitution on more “Islamic principles”.

On the face of it, these demands could seem pretty reasonable to many, as the same is being demanded by parties such as JI, JUI-F, PML-N and PTI.  But while all of these parties would agree on the issue of US’s WoT, one wonders if the Islamic overhaul of the constitution as demanded by the Taliban is the same as that proposed by our political parties?

Afterall, TTP’s Islam doesn’t allow women to get modern education, but the Late Qazi Hussain Ahmad’s daughter has a doctorate. TTP declares democracy to be haram, but Maulana Fazl ur Rehman and his brother are seasoned politicians. TTP considers polio vaccination to be an infidel ploy, but I am very sure that Imran Khan’s sons have been vaccinated.

With these violations the loved ones of these leaders have been guilty of sins as per TTP’s Islam. But then these are “crimes” that we Pakistanis consider to be our basic rights. Conflict is obvious, and so is TTP’s preference for violence as a means of conflict resolution. So then does this threat to our basic freedoms turn this into our war? or is fighting for Atta ur Rehman’s political freedom, Samia Raheel Qazi’s education, and the health of Imran Khan’s sons someone else’s responsibility? While luckily these freedoms are intact for most of us Pakistanis, but that certainly is not the case for many in FATA living under the TTP as well as the “good Taliban”.

However, the emphasis right now is on “negotiating” with the tormentors of FATA. If you listen to the chairman of PTI, it seems like he is suggesting something that has never been tried before. His disappointment is so immense and the look of triumphant vindication so strong, that you wish our rulers had the wisdom to listen to him.

But the Swat accord is not that distant a memory. The people of Swat who had voted for the most secular of political parties were suddenly assumed to be in favor of Shariah. No one ever thought about asking the Swatis, because probably the real fear was that Liberty Chowk or Jinnah Super might become the next Khooni Chowks. Therefore, in the name of “peace”, the Malalas of Swat were handed over to the wolves, just so that the rest of the country could be spared.

It was the TTP’s eagerness to bring speedy justice to the DHAs, E-7s, and Gulbergs of real Pakistan that led to decisive action against them. Ironically it even rang alarm bells among the non-Swati proponents of Nizam i Adl. The TTP apparently had reneged because the deal was to keep the beheadings, lashings and amputations limited to Swat, and NOT Pakistan-proper.

If this is the “negotiation” that we have in mind, and if the Malalas of Waziristan are now to be permanently sacrificed at the altar of the TTP, then we for sure are redefining the word Pakistani.

The freedoms of FATA should be as defense worthy as that of Punjab and Sindh. If the collateral damage from drone strikes is an outrage, then using the same shock algorithm, the subjugation and terrorization of Waziristanis should be a sacrilege. Love for the pathans of FATA shouldn’t only come out when the aggressor is the United States, but also on their continued butchery at the hands of the Taliban, which has been far more devastating than drones.

If military operations are not bearing fruit, then why is it such a taboo to review the army’s performance? Are our freedoms up for sale just because we can’t question our generals? If WAPDA can be blamed for electricity outages, and the police for a lack of crime control, then why can’t Pakistan army be blamed for failures in its military operations?

Lets negotiate but lets not make a distinction between a Waziristani and a Pakistani. Lets think of them as one and then lets choose for Wana what we would choose for Lahore and Islamabad. If it is futile to defend our freedoms then for sure it is futile to have a standing army.

Bad policing requires police reforms, and not that victims be handed over to criminals. Similarly, failures of military operations highlight the needs for accountability of our armed forces. Handing over Waziristan to ensure the peace of Islamabad is not a sustainable strategy, because there is only so much of Waziristan that can be handed out.

An edited version appeared in The News on 15th of Feb 2013.

Written by Imran Khan

February 15, 2013 at 4:55 am

Ostriches and Drones

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These days ostriches come in two varieties; feathery grey, and hairy green. But the difference between the two stops at outward appearances, because the two react very similarly when faced with danger, i.e. by burying their heads. So, as Pakistan faces rising terrorist attacks  our very own green ostriches dig their heads deeper and concentrate on drones.

Consider this interview by one Sardar Saurang Singh from Bunair. Speaking at an anti drone rally arranged by PTI, Mr. Singh uses the cliches of “Mulki Salimiyaat” and “Ghairat” etc and as a Pakistani Sikh proudly makes a vow that he will not allow any “bud amaani” (chaos) to prevail in Pakistan.

But this “bud amani” is a pretty tricky word. For most of Imran Khan’s supporters residing in Pakistan’s urban centers, this “bud amani” does not necessarily mean a beheading in Liberty Chowk Lahore, or a public lashing in Kohisar Market Islamabad. This relative safety then gives them the luxury to sit back and ponder about the “real” reasons behind this “bud amani”, and can actually afford to buy the opium laden choran that is being sold by PTI.

But being a Sikh from Bunair, Mr. Singh’s threat perception is certainly very bewildering. I mean, he must recall the threat that Bunair faced from the Taliban, right after the Swat Accord. He must also realize that The Swat Accord is exactly the sort of a thing, that Mr. Khan of the PTI has in mind when he proposes his solution of “talking to the Taliban”.  Speaking of “Mulki Salimiat” did Mr. Singh think of the security of the Sikhs of Pakistan? I mean its okay for some one like Zohair Toru to dare the blistering sun when it comes to the issue of Raymond Davis while at the same time be completely indifferent to the Sikh exodus from FATA. But for a Pakistani Sikh like Mr. Singh, does the threat really come from drones? or does it come from the Taliban who would want Sikhs like Mr. Singh to be reduced to jaziya paying dhimmis?

Some time back, the Chairman of PTI declared all the news about the Taliban’s destruction of schools as well as beheading at their hands as mere Government Propaganda.  A “propaganda” that also included the beheading of one Jaspal Singh, a sikh from Khyber Agency. From the point of view of the Taliban there is no difference between Jaspal Singh and Saurendar Singh, and for this reason, I personally am wishing that Mr. Saurendar Singh is one of those marketing gimmicks planted by our agencies to support their new blue eyed boy, because if that is not the case, then we surely are doomed.

Written by Imran Khan

August 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

OBL & GHQ

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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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