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Posts Tagged ‘TTP

Negotiating Season

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The wait for “change” is ruining post election euphoria for many. Some await a Naya Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) while others yearn for a Roshan Pakistan.

While it is certainly too early for bullet trains to be zooming through rural Punjab or for corruption to be eliminated from KP, but one thing has changed for sure; we Pakistanis have agreed that the war against terror is “not our war”. 

In retrospect, perhaps Benazir Bhutto should have paid heed to the warnings of TTP and Bashir Bilour probably should not have made such a huge deal about victims of terror. Because as per our newfound national wisdom, the sacrifice of these two and many others like them was in vain. The solution to terrorism lies not in standing up to terror, but instead in negotiating with terrorists.

To support this point, TTP is often compared to groups like the IRA. The argument is that if the knowledgeable Gora sahib can negotiate with the IRA, then why can’t Pakistan do the same with TTP? 

But then, is the mere use of terror enough of a reason to make these comparisons? Terrorism is a mean to enforce agendas; and if it isn’t obvious already, TTP’s agenda seems to be “a bit” different.

Unlike most terrorist groups, TTP does not have local demands. Instead they want changes at the national level.  And their demands are such that should be beyond negotiation for any sovereign nation. 

One could consider negotiations if they were demanding a repeal of FCR for instance, or a higher allocation of resources for FATA. But, they want none of that; instead they want a Naya Pakistan of their own, one that meets their standards of Islam. A Pakistan where there is a ban on polio vaccination and modern education, where justice is dispensed in public through whips and axes, where Muharram processions are banned and shrines are bulldozed, and where no one has the right to vote. I might be wrong but Great Britain would have been less prone to negotiations if the IRA wanted something similar.

However, Pakistan’s consensus is on negotiations and one has to respect that. But then negotiations are about concessions, and there is nothing wrong in giving those as long as equal importance is given to the lives, health and future of all Pakistanis. 

If a ban on polio vaccination sounds ridiculous for Raiwind in Lahore, then it should also be unacceptable for Wana in Waziristan. If a ban on female education sounds outrageous for Bani Gala in Islamabad then it should invoke the same response if proposed for Mingora in Swat. The freedoms of FATA and KP should be considered as valuable as those of Islamabad and Punjab.

This is not an unfounded fear, because Malala’s Swat was handed over to the Taliban by the previous government. It was one of their very few decisions for which they had complete support from all major political parties. 

If we assume equality among Pakistanis, then probably the most that we have to offer is an amnesty. But sadly, that is one thing that the TTP is not even asking for. So what recourse do the new Islamabad and new Peshawar have in mind if the TTP does not agree?

It wasn’t long ago that the Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek I Insaaf lambasted Sufi Muhammad for not keeping his side of the bargain in Swat. But then he also opposed the Swat operation based on his irresolute belief that war is not a solution to anything. 

When one says that there is no war-based solution to this problem, then what exactly does that mean? If the state of Pakistan does not have the recourse of force to assert itself, then does it mean that it is futile to have a standing army and police?

It is very common to criticize the previous Government for failing to provide security, despite using military force. But then why stop at that? Why not also recognize the fact that the Government’s failure in controlling terror is in effect a failure of its implementing arms i.e. our military and security agencies. 

Is it that unfathomable to consider that our war efforts might have been below par? That the reason for failure might not be inevitability but a sub standard performance?

Osama’s presence near Kakul speaks volumes about the efficiency with which this war is being fought, and the meekness of the Abbotabad Commission report simply highlights the difficulties in any oversight of those who are responsible. 

Scrutiny of our security agencies and military is essential in improving our war efforts. But for that our parliament has to be united on this issue. Differences arise when instead of viewing TTP’s bombings as intelligence failures they are presented as a necessary outcome of fighting “someone else’s war”. If it is someone else’s war, then why should we even be bothered about fighting it more efficiently?

For the last 5 years, PML-N and PTI have gained massive political mileage by claiming “negotiations” to be the only solution for the Taliban problem. By declaring the sacrifice of thousands of Pakistanis to be for “someone else’s war”, they have effectively hampered a consensus that should have been a natural outcome of this continuous massacre. 

Their efforts paid off and Pakistan voted for negotiations as a solution to the TTP menace. One would expect these two parties to be raring to go for negotiations now that they are in Government. But ever since taking charge both parties seem to have changed their tune. Leaders of PML-N are now hinting at the use of “other options” besides negotiations, an epiphany that did not dawn upon them during the last 5 years of carnage. While the Chairman of PTI, a self-proclaimed expert on FATA, is suddenly more keen on highlighting the criminal side of TTP.

The time has come for that instant peace promised by PML-N and PTI. If they can deliver peace through negotiations without offering any scapegoats, then hats off to them, their naysayers would be proven wrong. But if they decide to opt for a military solution, then before going down that road they need to apologize to this nation for all the confusion and denial they have spread, an effort for which the TTP should thank them.

Published in The News on the 17th of July, 2013


Written by Imran Khan

July 17, 2013 at 6:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Peshawar’s Bravest Son

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Bashir Bilour’s speech filmed by: Irfan Ullah Paracha

Election is a time of promises. Promises backed up by past deeds. Deeds which assure of virtues. In these days of terror, courage is one virtue that everyone with a microphone is trying to sell. Some do it by likening themselves to big scary cats, while others claim to be natural disasters.

But talk is cheap as it is the walk that counts.

Fear is an inclination to avoid unwanted consequences. Courage helps overcome that inclination. The more drastic the consequence, the higher is the level of courage required to overcome it.

Consider two individuals; Asif Ali Zardari and Baitullah Mehsud. One has allegations of corruption against him, while the other has proudly owned the killing of thousands. As Pakistanis we have the right to criticize both and it should be a no-brainer as to who deserves more.

But then consider the consequences; call Zardari what ever you want and there are none, but the same isn’t true for Baitullah Mehsud.

In today’s Pakistan, death is a likely consequence for politicians who dare to criticize the Taliban. This particular fact creates a threshold that separates the lions from the goats.

Recently there has been an acute shortage of lions among our political leadership and Bashir Ahmad Bilour was one of those very few we had.

To understand Bashir Bilour’s contribution, one has to consider the plight of his region, i.e. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. This area has been subjected to one of the deadliest terror campaigns in recent history, and Bashir Bilour’s Peshawar is one of the worst hit in this region.

For his people the flash of a “breaking news” sign is a cue to panic. Panic about the loved ones who are not in physical proximity. The mangled up car shown on TV suddenly starts to look familiar, and a non-responding cellphone raises fears of injury or even death. The unlucky few realize their ultimate nightmare while the lucky majority makes a vow to submit to terror and curtails its personal freedoms.

Bashir Bilour tried liberating his people from this psychological grip of terror. And he did that through his own courageous behavior. When other leaders would mince their words to denounce Taliban massacres, Bashir Bilour would be one of the very few to boldly step forward and point his finger at the villains. After almost every bombing in Peshawar, he along with Miyaan Iftikhar (both serving ministers) would be present on the scene. A very courageous act, especially in a country where security protocols for civilian as well as military VIPs resemble small armies.

It was with this established ethos of courage and dedication that Bashir Bilour used to address his audiences. This video is of one of his last speeches; he was martyred approximately two months after this.

His speech is about hope and encouragement. He praises the people of Peshawar for their courage and unity in the face of terror. He takes on the stereotyping of Peshawar’s Hindko speakers as weaklings and tells his audience, that they should not take that from anyone because their leaders have been as steadfast as rocks in this crisis. He narrates how he refused to cower while facing a suicide bomber and how he ventured into Darra Adam Khel despite security warnings from officials.

And then he shares the secret of his strength; which is a simple belief, that the time of death has already been decided. It is a belief that is shared by most in this country, albeit with varying degrees of strength. With his own actions Bashir Bilour probably aimed to strengthen this particular belief among his terror stricken people, to a level that would enable them to live normally.

But his enemies finally got to him, and Peshawar lost one of its bravest sons.

They say fear is contagious but then so is courage, if Bashir Bilour’s targeting was intended to instill fear, then it definitely has had the reverse effect. In his martyrdom, Bashir Bilour has become a symbol of fearless defiance whose ownership has gone beyond the ANP. If the plan was to make an example out of him, then that plan has failed. He for sure has become an example, but not one to take heed from, rather one to be emulated.

Published by Pak Votes on 7th of May 2013

Written by Imran Khan

May 7, 2013 at 10:40 am

Posted in ANP, Pakhtunkhwa, Taliban

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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


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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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