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Posts Tagged ‘Taliban

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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2012: the year in bombings

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In the terrorist’s arsenal, the bomb is perhaps the most devastating and cost effective. Its cost effectiveness is apparent when compared with armed assaults or other types of attacks. Detonate a bomb from a distance, and you don’t lose any of your people, strap it on to one of yours, and that turns him/her into the worlds smartest smart bomb, one that is capable of doing the maximum damage by fine tuning its target till the final moment.

As a country that has been rocked by bombings since the 80s, Pakistan is one of the worst victims of bomb attacks. Such has been the death toll from these attacks, that bombings with single digit causality figures hardly make it to our 9 pm headlines.

There is no doubt that Pakistan is the front line state in the war on terror, but then, is all of Pakistan a front line state, or does this front line of ours have corners of bliss? Ones where the sound of a bombing comes only through the ticker on news channels?

In my search for answers, I stumbled upon this excellent data source: the South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP). It has statistics on terrorism in Pakistan as well as other countries in the region.

One such data series was the number of bomb blasts detailed according to cities. Using this data I mapped* the bombings for 2012.

One thing to remember is that this mapping is limited to just bombings and not armed assaults like the ones that happened in Gilgit Baltistan, when Shias were lined up outside buses and shot. Its important to point out that target killings, ambushes, beheadings as well as kidnappings occur frequently in Pakistan. Especially the violence in Karachi appears much low when only bombings are taken into account. According to SATP for 2012, the highest number or terrorism related deaths amongst the provinces were reported from Sindh at 1553, followed by Balochistan at 954, KP at 656, and Punjab at 104. But I could not find the district level breakup of this data, any leads to other data sources would be much appreciated.

What I mapped is an indicator for the overall damage. Since the website provides the number of dead and injured for each bombing, I randomly assigned weights to these numbers; 0.8 for the dead and 0.2 for the injured. So a bombing with 10 dead and 20 injured gets a damage score of 12. While one with 10 dead and 40 injured gets a higher score of 16, thus differentiating between their level of damage.

The figure below shows the cumulative annual district wise scores across Pakistan. A total of 648 bombings were reported across the country in 2012 leading to 1007 deaths.


The mapping points out three zones of high incidence of bomb attacks. Districts marked in red fall in the “Very HIGH” category of damage. In total the districts/agencies marked in red account for 61% of the incidents and 79% of the deaths.  These red areas are concentrated in three distinct zones.

Zone 1 includes, Peshawar, Kohat, Nowshehra and D.I.Khan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while Khyber, Kurram, Bajaur, Orakzai, and Mohmand agencies from FATA. This zone accounts for 39% percent of all the bomb blasts in 2012, and 59% of the deaths as a result of bomb blasts. The worst bombing of the year was carried out in Jamrud bazaar on the 10th of January 2012, in which 35 people died while 78 were injured.

Zone 2 includes the districts of Quetta, Mastung, Dera Bugti and Sibi from Balochistan, where the damage is in the “Very HIGH” category. This zone accounts for 16% percent of all the bomb blasts and 16% percent of the deaths in 2012.

Zone 3 includes the various districts of Karachi and Malir, this accounts for 7% percent of the total bomb blasts and 4% percent of the killings.

The provincial break up of incidents and killed vs injured also reveal the share of the damage between provinces.

If we lump FATA and KP together, then it accounts for 65% of the incidents and 71% of the bombing related deaths in 2012.

Incidents Killed

There is a big difference among incidents in terms of impact; a cycle bomb and a C4 laden water tanker would both be qualified as “incidents” in our listing but then in terms of impact and the ruthlessness as well as capabilities of its planners, there is a huge difference. So which districts are at the mercy of the worst villains?

For this we look at the damage per incident or the average damage for these districts. I am keeping districts with less than 15 bombings out of this calculation, as a lower denominator is not good for a representative average. Again the districts from Zone 1 show the highest damage per attack.

DIST_NAME KILLED INJURED INCIDENTS DAMAGE = (0.2*Injured) + (0.8*Killed) Average Damage
Bajaur Agency 53 107 12 445.4 37.11666667
Kurram Agency 67 152 19 566.4 29.81052632
Khyber Agency 229 369 90 1905.8 21.17555556
Peshawar 144 413 75 1234.6 16.46133333
Kohat 37 62 19 308.4 16.23157895
South Waziristan Agency 19 41 10 160.2 16.02
Quetta 93 408 52 825.6 15.87692308
Karachi 40 280 45 376 8.355555556
North Waziristan Agency 11 35 12 95 7.916666667
Nowshera 13 93 22 122.6 5.572727273
Mohmand Agency 26 34 41 214.8 5.23902439
Dera Bugti 22 58 43 187.6 4.362790698
Charsadda 4 36 27 39.2 1.451851852
Swabi 1 25 24 13 0.541666667

Here is the district wise list of incidents and damage, ranked according to damage. Only those districts are included that came under atleast one bombing attack during 2012.

Khyber Agency 229 369 90 1905.8
Peshawar 144 413 75 1234.6
Quetta 93 408 52 825.6
Kurram Agency 67 152 19 566.4
Bajaur Agency 53 107 12 445.4
Karachi 40 280 45 376
Kohat 37 62 19 308.4
Orakzai Agency 34 42 8 280.4
Mastung 29 67 4 245.4
Mohmand Agency 26 34 41 214.8
Dera Bugti 22 58 43 187.6
Rawalpindi 21 30 1 174
Rahim Yar Khan 21 27 1 173.4
Sibi 19 59 4 163.8
South Waziristan Agency 19 41 10 160.2
D. I. Khan 18 51 5 154.2
Lower Dir 17 17 4 139.4
Nowshera 13 93 22 122.6
Killa Abdullah 14 7 1 113.4
North Waziristan Agency 11 35 12 95
Bannu 10 36 4 87.2
Upper Dir 8 19 3 67.8
Kech 7 16 4 59.2
Buner 7 5 1 57
Lahore 5 67 3 53.4
Jaffarabad 5 2 6 40.4
Charsadda 4 36 27 39.2
Nasirabad 4 31 9 38.2
Kohlu 4 3 6 32.6
Lakki Marwat 4 2 9 32.4
Hangu 3 10 8 26
Bhakkar 3 0 1 24
Jacobabad 2 10 1 18
Bolan 2 6 4 17.2
Zhob 2 0 1 16
Swabi 1 25 24 13
Panjgur 1 10 3 10
Kalat 1 4 2 8.8
Shangla 1 4 1 8.8
Vehari 1 2 1 8.4
Khuzdar 1 1 2 8.2
Loralai 1 1 1 8.2
Malakand PA 1 1 1 8.2
Tribal Area adj Tank 1 1 1 8.2
Tribal Area adj Kohat 1 0 1 8
Hyderabad 0 9 12 1.8
Mardan 0 8 13 1.6
Tribal Area adj Bannu 0 6 2 1.2
Tank 0 5 5 1
Barkhan 0 3 1 0.6
Nawabshah 0 3 4 0.6
Attock 0 2 1 0.4
Mansehra 0 2 1 0.4
Pishin 0 2 1 0.4
Chagai 0 1 1 0.2
Islamabad 0 1 1 0.2
Larkana 0 1 2 0.2
Badin 0 0 1 0
Ghotki 0 0 1 0
Khairpur 0 0 3 0
Multan 0 0 1 0
Naushahro Feroze 0 0 3 0
Shikarpur 0 0 1 0
Sukkur 0 0 1 0
Ziarat 0 0 1 0



* One thing that I want to point out here is that I am using a .shp file for mapping. I got this file for free from the good people at citypulse.com. The file is a bit dated, and it does not show the latest district break up. For some of the newer districts, I am using their older parent district.

Written by Imran Khan

February 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm

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

Media Priorities and the Caskets from Bara

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The memory of the martyrs of the Alamdar road massacre in Quetta is still fresh in our memories. The trail blazers of Alamdar Road, did a unique protest that struck a cord with all of Pakistan. So effective was this effort that the provincial government of a province was sent packing because of it.

Well that trend has caught on. Currently, around 5000 protestors from Khyber Agency have descended upon Governor House Peshawar carrying the bodies of the 18 martyrs who were killed as mercilessly as those in Alamdar Road.

There is a chance that you might not have heard about it, and that is because the Pakistani media has different priorities. Apart from the Pashto language Khyber TV, no other channel is giving it as special as a priority as they gave to Tahir ul Qadri today.

This is a look at the major news channels of Pakistan at around 4 pm on 16th of January 2013, only hours after the protestors brought their dead to Peshawar.

1- PTV – Lahore protest against TuQ

2- Express News – Tahir ul Qadri

3- Dunya TV – Lahore protest against TuQ

4- Aaj – Tahir Ul Qadri

5- Geo News – Tahir ul Qadri

6- ARY News – Tahir ul Qadri

7- Waqt News – Tahir ul Qadri

8- Samaa – Tahir ul Qadri

9- NewsOne – News Bulletin

10- Dawn News – Tahir ul Qadri

11- CNBC – Ghar key Baat (Flower decorations)

12- Channel 5 News – Tahir Ul Qadri

13- Din News – Tahir Ul Qadri

14- Apna News – News Bulletin

15- Khyber News – Peshawar protest #JusticeForTribesmen

The 18 dead of Bara demand the same attention, as the ones from Alamdar road.

Lets listen to their complaints as well, not all of Pakistan is lucky enough to only be worried about load shedding and corruption.

Written by Imran Khan

January 16, 2013 at 11:29 am

Posted in Media, Pakhtuns

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Denialistanis are all around us, they look, walk and talk like us. Most have a green passport and quite a few have maroon and blue ones as well.  But what sets denialistanis apart from the rest is the way in which they process bad news; Muslims can never be culprits and thus the infidel is at fault. Let it be a suicide bombing or a flood, it must be the Jews/Hindus/Christians, as they are all out to destroy Muslims.

Who could forget that supposed absence of 3000 Jews from the World Trade Center that implicated Mossad and not Al Qaida for 9/11? And that “RAW conspiracy” to malign Pakistani cricketers? Not to forget Ajmal Kasab’s saffron wrist band which certified him as a RAW agent?

As things stand, Al Qaida has taken responsibility for 9/11, our cricketers were conclusively found to be guilty and Hafiz Saeed has offered funeral prayers for Ajmal Kasab. But despite these resounding slaps on the wrist, what still remains is the quest for more denials in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Denialistanis, it seems, view the world through a special prism; one that shows every thing as a struggle between a feeble Muslim David and a towering infidel Goliath. The eventual victory of David is foreseen to be the proof of being on God’s side.

If one is to look for a prototype of a Muslim David, then one shouldn’t beyond the Taliban. Ill equipped, rag tag, religious and ready for war. For many, cheering them on becomes a religious obligation of sorts. And we Pakistanis did that cheerleading very effectively. At a time when Afghan Malalas were being whipped in public and Afghan Bilours executed in football stadiums, Islamabad proudly declared the Taliban to be “our boys”.

But things changed when from being the official cheerleaders for Afghanistan’s Taliban we became victims of our own Pakistani Taliban. Ideally it should have been the infidel Goliath to blame, but instead the villain turned out to be our own beloved Muslim David.

So how does one explain that?

Accepting the Jihadis as our enemies, poses substantial costs for some. Because at stake is the narrative that fuels Juma sermons, shapes our school curricula and forestalls any cuts in our military spending. Any exceptions to this will simply rob many people of their raison d‘etre. Therefore there is no other option but to twist the obvious and defend the narrative.

Consider the aftermath of the Malala incident; first came the regular “Who did it?” The Tehreek I Taliban Pakistan (TTP) proudly replied with a “We did”. This was responded with; “Who are the Taliban?” “How can one be sure that the TTP exists?” “This must be Black Water.”

Discussion is futile, because these statements are backed with a total distrust in the profession of journalism, and an unwavering faith in the magical powers of video & audio editing. Media reports that implicate the TTP are declared false, and video confessionals are attributed to video editors sitting in Langley Virginia. Interestingly these resolute shoulder-shrugging-fact-checkers are usually the same people who embraced Agha Waqar and his water kit with arms wide open.

The Malala incident was unique in the response that it got from Pakistanis. Here was a girl so focused on education that she defied the Taliban for it. A dream child for any parents worried about the education and future of their children, and thus the sympathy came pouring out.

It is exactly that sort of a response, which is needed to build a much-needed national consensus on tackling the Taliban. But a necessary victim of such a consensus would be the denialistani narrative and naturally the big guns came out to defend it.

Qazi Hussain Ahmad accused Malala’s father of bad parenting. The product of Qazi sahib’s parenting; Dr. Samia Raheel Qazi used doctored shots from a documentary to show Malala colluding with CIA officials. Maulana Fazl ur Rehman brought out the surgeon in him to declare Malala’s wounds to be fake and her recovery a drama. With the leadership stooping so low, the rank and file of these parties stooped even further and launched a hateful smear campaign against Malala.

But Malala doesn’t pose the biggest threat to the denialistani narrative, it is actually the Taliban who do. Every time TTP takes responsibility for the wanton killing of Pakistanis Muslims, it smashes the façade of, an infidel threat and a united Ummah, that has been so painstakingly created by parties such as JI, JUI-F and more recently PTI.

Imagine how smug the leadership of these parties would have been had the Taliban denied involvement in these acts of terror? But while these political parties are in the business of winning votes, the Taliban are in the business of selling fear. Incentives don’t align between the two, as JUI-F and JI have also been victims of Taliban violence.

But despite victim-hood the response of JI and JUI-F has been very different from that of the ANP. Perhaps because for the ANP this carnage is a realization of what Wali Khan had predicted back in the 80s. But for the JI and JUI-F this is a case of the chicken coming home to roost, a taste of the medicine that they prescribed for Afghanistan.

ANP’s vindication and the religious right’s embarrassment come out very clearly in the aftermath of every terrorist attack. The ANP is very clear about naming the TTP and the need for bringing it to justice. However, for the religious right even condemnation comes with reluctance about naming TTP and often the blame is put on CIA/RAW/Mossad etc. The end result is a national confusion in which TTP’s clearly worded confessions are ignored and instead the focus is put on ridiculous conspiracy theories or the futility of a military response.

This national confusion is the TTP’s biggest asset. They can spread fear by owning it, but then don’t face the consequences.

The failure of our State in delivering these consequences is a failure of our army and security agencies. This needs to be dealt with as the failure of any other Government institution. Simply initiating a new military operation would not do, seeking performance review on past military efforts is key in answering effectively to the Taliban threat.

To investigate these failures is to take on the deep state and its strategic calculus, and for that the PPP would need support from all political quarters. But this prevailing confusion robs the Government of the public support that it needs for doing so.

Despite its clarity on the Taliban issue, it’s the ANP that is paying the biggest price for this national confusion. So far the TTP has martyred more than 600 ANP members. No other political party comes close to this sacrifice.

Bashir Bilour Shaheed once said “For the love of God, please embrace this as your war. If you cant, or are too afraid to do so, then please remain silent. Don’t create confusion amongst the people.” No one listened and he paid the ultimate price for his own ideals and someone else’s political expediency. One only wonders how many Bashir Bilours would we have to sacrifice, before those spreading this confusion start paying the price for it as well. Maybe that will bring some clarity?

An edited version appeared in The News on the 3rd of January 2013, under the title “TTP’s most lethal weapon”

Written by Imran Khan

January 3, 2013 at 4:48 am

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