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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

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Dupatta-clad Tabdeeli

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A distinguishing feature of the 2013 elections was the phenomenon of PTI’s “tsunami” jalsas. What made these jalsas different was not only their size, but also the participation of women.

Quite a few of my female friends are staunch PTI supporters. One common streak among them all is that they are strong willed and independent women who are very conscious of as well as reactive to the male chauvinism inherent in our society.

Perhaps it was the association of these women with PTI, that prompted Maulana Fazl ur Rehman, to declare Imran Khan to be an agent of the Jews, who is mandated to corrupt the morality of Pakistan.

But then, Maulana Sahib should reconsider his opinion of PTI. Because a recent statement by Mr. Shaukat Yousafzai, the spokesperson for PTI’s Naya Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, aims to dispel any “jewish conspiracy” notions that the good maulana might have.

In a talk show that was about the role of women parliamentarians, Mr. Yousafzai was asked why a woman could not be made a full-fledged minister in the Naya KP Government? And since PTI is talking about Tabdeeli then wouldn’t it have been better if, off its six ministries, three were given to women?

To this question from a former woman parliamentarian, Mr. Yousafzai responded in these exact words  “tabdeeli sirf naam say nahi aati, kay aap sir say dupata uttar kay, TV k aagay baith jaain…” (Tabdeeli does not mean that you take the dupatta off of your head and sit in-front of the TV)

Following this remark he faced a backlash from the host as well as other panelists, all of whom were women. Frustrated with their response Mr. Yousafzai shared another gem “aik tu aap baat nahi sunti hain na, Khawateen main aik yay bara masla hai.” (you are just not listening, and that’s a big problem with women.)

Such sexist taunts and generalizations should not come as a surprise, because they represent a very entrenched mindset in our society. A woman is not supposed to sit in front of a TV camera, and even if she does, she should at the very least have her head covered. Because not covering her head reflects weaker ethos, which somehow makes her argument less credible.

It should not have come as a surprise if the same was uttered by a maulana from the Jamiat Ulema I Islam. Because such statements reflect the message of JUI-F and that is how it won its mandate. JUI-F’s Minar i Pakistan Jalsa, probably did not have even one woman, let alone one without a dupata.

But then the beardless Shaukat Yousafzai did not win on a JUI-F ticket. He won on a ticket of the PTI. A party that, among other things, galvanized Pakistan’s urban centers with images like these:

PTI jalsaDance-in-PTI-Imran-Khan-Rally-Lahore-men-and-women-together Pakistani female of Tehreek-e-insaf

Dupata-less as well as hijabi, this crowd does not seem one that was brought together with the promise of a dupatta clad tabdeeli. But yet its official spokesperson, one who has passed through the apparently stringent sieves of internal party elections as well as KP’s leadership selection, is of the opinion that being on camera and without a dupatta is something to look down upon.

While Mr. Yousafzai’s outburst comes as a surprise, one is shocked at the silence of PTI’s woman leaders. The otherwise very active twitter accounts of Dr. Shireen Mazari and Ms. Fauzia Kasuri are completely silent over this statement from the spokesperson of their “Model Sooba”. One wonders if this is the example that PTI is setting for other provinces to follow, and If yes, then when are these two ladies donning a dupatta before they talk about tabdeeli?

While an apology has come out of the KP government, it is not from the PTI. Instead it comes from a leader of the Qaumi Watan Party, a party previously known as the Pakistan Peoples Party – Sherpao Group. Mr. Sikandar Sherpao, son of Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, has apologized on behalf of his government and promised that statements such as these would not be repeated.

Sikandar Sherpao apology

It surely is ironic, because Mr. Sherpao belongs to that camp of politicians, which the pre election PTI rejected as the “old and corrupt politicians”. Supposedly this lot had so much wrong about them that there was a drastic need for a “tabdeeli”. But comparing the levels of political correctness and decency, this particular tabdeeli seems to be for the worse.

The former CM of Balochistan might have said; Tabdeeli tabdeeli hoti hai… chahay achi ho ya buri.

Seems like one has to be careful about what one wishes for.

Written by Imran Khan

July 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Posted in PTI

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PTI’s vote validation – voting differences

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PTI has demanded that for six constituencies, votes be validated through matching thumb prints with the NADRA database. Such an exercise could be fruitful if PTI’s losing margin is small.

However, the constituencies demanded by PTI are a mixed bag, with the differences varying from 4,000 to 40,000, as the following table shows.

Constituency

PTI

Opposition

Affiliation

Difference

NA 57

55515

59638

PML-N

4123

NA 110

71525

92803

PML-N

21278

NA 122

84417

93362

PML-N

8945

NA 125

83190

123094

PML-N

39904

NA 154

75184

86046

Independent

10862

NA 239

34601

39069

MQM

4468

Note: The names of the constituencies are linked to the corresponding source at the ECP website.

Written by Imran Khan

May 16, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Democracy, PTI

Watan Ya Kafan

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The Awami National Party (ANP) began its campaign with the slogan “Pur Amn Pakistan”. However, in the aftermath of the attack on the Bilours of Peshawar, an unofficial slogan came to the fore and has since taken over.

Watan Ya Kafan” (Country or Shroud) sums up the stance of a group that is bloodied and cornered but yet proud and defiant. Not only does it signify ANP’s resolve but it also pays homage to the choice made by more than 700 of its martyrs.

One would assume that such gallantry would elicit praise from all quarters. But that is certainly not the case. Instead, there exists quite a strong sense of resentment. Polls indicate that, and my personal interactions corroborate it. By and large, the source of this resentment seems to be ANP’s financial corruption.

This belief is mostly backed by anecdotes. And one particular line that is quoted as the ultimate proof is “Baba ta easy load ka”, alluding that during ANP’s tenure bribing Haider Hoti’s father was necessary for getting things done.

Ironically, many of my friends who are utterly disgusted with ANP’s corruption, seem to have a different yardstick for their own financial integrity. One will claim a substantial inheritance from a father who was known for taking bribes. Another, a Government servant, is infamous for not even pardoning relatives when it comes to “fees”. But then both are completely disgusted over Baba’s “easy loads”. And they have every right to be, because hypocrisy of critics should not absolve the ANP of its crimes.

It would be ridiculous to claim that the ANP government was not involved in any corruption, but by the same token it would be naïve to rely just on anecdotes to associate it with corruption at unmatched levels. If the accusations are true and corruption was that widespread in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, then some indicator somewhere should capture it. Especially when compared with other provinces.

The Transparency International (TI) Pakistan is one such source. Its surveys for 2009 & 2010 provide estimates of the annual average provincial corruption expenditures. For both these years the sample from KP had one of the lowest corruption expenditures among the four provinces. For 2009, Khyber Pakhtunkha averaged at Rs. 3,454, while Punjab was Rs. 19,959. For 2010, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the lowest among all provinces at Rs. 3,528, while the highest i.e. Punjab was at Rs. 17,791. This infographic has more detailed comparisons based on those statistics.

TI Pakistan didn’t consider these estimates in its provincial corruption ranking for 2010, as it was based on perceptions. It focused on just one question; for KP, the respondents were asked if the present Government (ANP) was more corrupt than the previous government (MMA). But here is the twist; for some odd reason TI chose Peshawar, Mansehra, Abbotabad and Haripur as representative districts for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

An anti ANP verdict from the Hazara division was inevitable, and this was presented as the perception of the whole province. This result was then used extensively in the media to label ANP’s government as the most corrupt. I wrote a more detailed piece on TI Pakistan’s methodology back in 2010.

While the jury is still out on ANP, lets focus a bit on this national obsession with corruption. Yes, corruption is a huge problem in Pakistan, but does it really overshadow terrorism? Last year, Pakistan had a total of 652 bombings leading to 1,007 deaths, that means an average of 2 bombings and 3 deaths per day! and this was one of our better years.

But yet survey after survey confirms that Pakistan considers corruption to be a bigger problem than terrorism. This is akin to a cancer patient citing a common cold as his biggest ailment. The difference between corruption and terrorism should be obvious from their respective units of measurement; rupees for corruption and deaths for terrorism. How big of a bribe can outweigh the death of one human?

The ANP’s biggest sacrifice is against the menace of terrorism. If it had followed MMA’s path, today some of its top workers and leaders would still be alive. But instead it took on the biggest monster of our times, and paid dearly for it. Ironically the ones so eager to bestow the title of “Pashtun resistance” on the Taliban refuse to even acknowledge this non-violent defiance.

Acknowledged or not, but the followers of Bacha Khan are meeting the standards that were set in Qissa Khawani in 1930, and Barbara in 1948. The villains might have changed but the resolve of these martyrs harks back to the days of Ghaffar Khan. It is a fact that the number of martyrs of ANP is comparable to those from uniformed outfits like the Frontier Constabulary, Police and Pakistan Army. Not a small feat for a political party.

However the comparison is really striking when done against other parties, especially the ones claiming ferocity of felines and natural disasters. This lot is faking complete oblivion to a danger that threatens the very existence of their proposed “Roshan” and “Naya” Pakistans.

Cowardice and opportunism seem to be the only apparent reasons for their silence. A convenient excuse is to declare the war against Taliban to be “someone else’s war”. But while Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan may have their own interpretations, Hakeem Ullah Mehsud has made it clear that his war is against Pakistan, whether its “Roshan” or “Naya” will not make a difference.

Today ANP has been left alone to fight a war for the survival and continuation of Pakistan’s democracy. After every bombing its battered leaders reiterate their demand for a timely election, one that their party is very likely to lose. It is a slap in the face of those who want to destabilize our democracy, but as a principled stance remains unappreciated by most Pakistanis.

Supporting the ANP doesn’t necessarily mean that one votes for it. Regardless of party affiliations the need is to provide a united front against the forces bent upon destabilizing democracy in Pakistan, and are presently focused on the ANP.

For those who still think ANP’s corruption doesn’t make it worth the effort, I propose the following calculation.

Step 1: Put a price on the life of a loved one.

Step 2: Multiply that price by 700.

Step 3: From this total subtract the biggest possible estimate for ANP’s corruption (make it KP’s entire budget if you may).

Lets see if the remainder is positive or negative.

An edited version appeared in The News on the 27th of April 2013 under the title “Terror, Corruption and ANP”

Written by Imran Khan

April 27, 2013 at 5:34 am

91st Day of Naya Pakistan

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Dear Diary,

Today is the 91st day of my Prime Ministership, 91st day of Naya Pakistan. Time magazine has declared me person of the year, Foreign Policy calls me “Pakistan’s Nostradamus”, and Newsweek wishes I could run for the presidency of the United States.

All in due time I told Newsweek, but I am happy that at the prime of my political career, the world has finally recognized the awesomeness that is me.

As I had predicted, PTI did sweep the elections; the patwaris were simply washed away in the tsunami. My Tsunami. Today, the national and provincial assemblies only have PTI and no other political party. Not surprising if you ask me, elections would have been rigged if the results were any different.

The so-called liberal “analysts” were bowled out; what they thought would be an analytical half volley turned out to be a toe-crushing yorker. These drone loving fake liberals could never tolerate my genuine liberal greatness, because I am so much better than them, in both soorat as well as seerat.

“How would you now finish corruption and terrorism in 90 days?” they asked “Are you going to do a military operation in Waziristan?” A resounding NO was my reply Dear Diary because only fake liberals support military operations, and I am the only real liberal in this country, Mashallah i.e.

But let me tell you Dear Diary, the Tiger of Mianwali was actually a bit worried. Even though I knew that I can never be wrong. I mean, If Imran Khan has said that the Taliban would be taken care off in 90 days then they will be taken care off in 90 days. After all who could forget that it was I who had predicted Pakistan’s win in the 1992 world cup?

One day as I was contemplating my options, an owl came out of nowhere and landed on my shoulder. Yes Dear Diary, an owl! But this was no ordinary owl; this one had flown all the way from Hogwarts and was carrying a message.

Harry Potter wanted to meet me.

The following day Harry arrived in Bani Gala riding a broomstick (not kidding). He told me that during the Tri Wizard Tournament, when he was listening to the golden egg under water, he had actually heard the song “Dil Main Ho Niyat Saaf, Rahay Insaaf, Kahay Imraaaan Khan!!” He didn’t disclose this earlier because he was afraid of the Jewish Lobby. But now after Voldemort’s death, Yes dear Diary I am not afraid to say his name… Voldemort, Voldemort, VOLDEMORT!!. But anyway as I was saying, with the death of Voldemort the Jewish lobby has weakened and thus Harry decided to make things public.

Next week we called a huge press conference. Well huge would be an understatement Dear Diary, as it was not a press conference but a press tsunami. Well not even a tsunami, I would rather call it a TSUNAMA!; from Roznama Surkhab, to New York times to the Daily Prophet, everyone was there.

The seating arrangement for the Tsunama conference raised a lot of suspense; we had placed the journalists in the middle while a huge fenced enclosure was erected to their left, and a dozen empty shipping containers were parked to their right.

I initiated the proceedings and officially asked Harry to rid Pakistan of terrorism. In response Harry took out his wand and shouted, “Accio Taliban! …Bad ones only!” suddenly the TTP started dropping from the sky and into the fenced enclosure. The army jawans surrounding the fence shouted hands up! and thus the formidable TTP was taken into custody, without even firing a single bullet!… Take that Najam Sethi!

I then asked Harry to help return the billions looted by corrupt politicians. Again Harry waved his wand and shouted “Accio Swiss Accounts! Politicians only!” and suddenly the parked containers became full with dollars. They say Zardari was watching it live and had a heart attack when he saw that. I pray for his recovery.

With this done, Harry broke his wand into two and embraced Islam at the hands of Junaid Jamshed. He has been renamed Harris Puttar and is now a member of the tableeghi jumaat as well as PTI.

And this is how I fulfilled my promise of eliminating corruption and terrorism from Pakistan within 90 days.

But that’s not the end dear Diary as there are drones to deal with as well. Luckily Superman has also joined our cause. Apparently when he was flying by the moon he heard the chaant “Koan bachai ga Pakistan? Imraaan Khan!! Imraaan Khan!!” He said he wants to help us take down the drones. Lets see how that one goes.

A slightly edited version appeared in The Herald on the 10th of April 2013 under their Journal Observations series.

Written by Imran Khan

April 11, 2013 at 4:39 am

Posted in PTI, Taliban

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Naya Tirah

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A hope was kindled in the hearts of many in the aftermath of the massacre at Quetta’s Alamdar road. In response to Lashkar e Jhangvi’s (LeJ) ownership of the killings, the leader of Pakistan Tehreek I Insaaf (PTI), Imran Khan, openly condemned LeJ by taking its name.

In most countries such a condemnation would be the minimum expected from a politician. But in Pakistan most politicians shy away from naming jihadi perpetrators, even when the killers are taking responsibility.

These politicians overwhelmingly belong to the parties from the center and right of Pakistan’s political spectrum. Imran Khan in particular has been called out by many of his critics for failing to condemn terrorism. Therefore, it was significant that he had condemned the LeJ, especially when one also considers his popularity.

But then, just days after his condemnation, Imran Khan repeated the mantra that has earned him the title of “Taliban Khan”.

In an interview, Khan Sahib offered this three-step solution to the problem of militancy:

Step 1: Disengage from the US led War on Terror (WoT).

Step 2: This will rob Taliban of their reason for Jihad, and most Taliban will renounce militancy.

Step 3: Use the tribes of FATA to take on the remaining Taliban.

This very simple solution is based on some very false assumptions. Consider this conclusion where he claims “Qabaili ilaqay k loag Mujahideen say nahi larain gay” i.e. “People of the tribal areas will not fight against the Mujahideen”. To conclude this is to assume the tribes of FATA to be in an alliance of sorts with the Taliban. It is important to analyze this assumption, because this is the cornerstone of PTI’s solution for militancy.

The implications of assuming a tribal-Taliban alliance are huge as it leads to the conclusion that the Pashtuns of FATA are partners in the crimes committed by the Taliban.

Now consider the fact that the TTP’s list of victims spreads across almost every sect and ethnicity in Pakistan. Try telling the relatives of a Punjabi victim of terror that the Pashtuns of FATA killed their loved one in order to avenge US drones. Sympathy is the last thing that should be expected. It is a highly irresponsible statement to be coming from a national leader.

But then this is not just about maintaining Pakistan’s ethnic harmony, as it is absolutely wrong to assume a tribal-Taliban alliance, because a majority of the people of FATA themselves are victims of the Taliban.

For the rest of us, Taliban rule is a fear that is still part of an uncertain future. But for many in FATA this is an every day reality. A whole generation is being raised without the hope that education provides or the lifeline that a health system extends. Ban on polio drops, enforced prayers and beards, lashings and beheadings. This is the life that no one would want, especially not the tribes of FATA who have always prided themselves on being Azad (free).

Contrary to the preposterous claim by the Chairman of PTI, the tribes of FATA are actually already fighting against the Taliban. The proof for that is overwhelming; anti Taliban Lashkars have been raised across FATA and around 1000 tribal elders have been massacred by the Taliban. A survey conducted by CAMP in 2010 asked the people of FATA about their views on the Pakistani Taliban; mere 11% had positive perceptions, similarly only 20% approved of the Afghan Taliban. Another survey of FATA respondents conducted by the New America Foundation in 2010, whose results have widely been used to oppose drones, also showed a mere 20% support for Pakistani Taliban, while only 29% for Afghan Taliban.

Ironically, this 23rd of March, when the PTI was heralding the beginning of a “Naya Pakistan” in Lahore, the assumptions of its anti terror policy were being blown up in the valley of Tirah (FATA).

The people of Tirah were being driven out en masse.  But neither were they being attacked by CIA drones nor chased by US marines. Instead, they were under attack from the Tehreek I Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The same TTP, which the Chairman of PTI assumes to be in alliance with the people of Tirah.

Not only were these “Mujahideen” fighting against the Qabail, but they were fighting in a most despicable manner. Horrific stories are coming out of the area; of an old father shooting his disabled daughter because he could not carry her, and neither did he want to leave her at the mercy of the Taliban. Of men getting beheaded even after they had surrendered.

Imagine being one of these IDPs from Tirah; chased by the Taliban, losing your home and relatives to them, and then being told by a “FATA expert” that you are an ally of the Taliban; just because the US has invaded Afghanistan, and also because your grandfather fought the British. One can only imagine the response.

To an extent the problem also lies in Imran Khan’s romanticized perceptions about Pashtuns. It is very common to hear Khan sahib talk about the tribes of FATA as one would about the Klingons from Star Trek; warrior nation, ready to fight, fearless, undefeatable etc.

Well Tirah was a test case for those abilities; the Qabail did fight but were completely routed by the Taliban. After which they fled to save their lives, just like humans would in any other part of the world. Contrary to popular racist humor, the Pathans of Pakistan are as much insaans as the rest of Pakistan.

The vulnerability of these Pakistanis from Tirah is obvious from their current status as IDPs. Romanticizing their warrior skills is good for works of fiction, but would be ridiculous if done as a policy statement to absolve the state of its responsibility to defend them.

The Pakistanis of Tirah have as much a right to be defended by the state as do the Pakistanis of Bani Gala or Zaman Park, a defense that has very conveniently been declared as “futile” by the architects of Naya Pakistan.

Can we declare our personal freedoms to be not worth fighting for? Would we be ok with a “peace” that comes at the price of polio and illiteracy for our children and of beheading, amputations and lashings for ourselves?

If our freedoms are not worth fighting for then why have we been apportioning the bulk of our budget for defense since independence? What exactly were we planning to defend if not the future of our children?

If our military has failed to contain the Taliban threat, then that asks for the military’s performance review and not that FATA be put up for sale to the buyer with the sharpest knife or the biggest gun. If collateral damage is an issue then that demands a closer scrutiny of military operations and not that our people be handed over to a band of ruthless thugs.

While many Pakistanis are crossing their fingers for a Naya Pakistan, we already have a Naya Tirah. It is a Tirah that is empty of its people, and reeks of rotting dead bodies. It is also a Naya Tirah that is making its residents yearn for the old one.

Lets not end up in a Naya Pakistan that will also make us yearn for this old one.

First appeared in View Point online on the 5th of April 2013

Written by Imran Khan

April 5, 2013 at 5:11 am

Posted in Military, Pakhtunkhwa, Pakhtuns, PTI, Taliban

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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

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