Just as Pakistan is preparing to deal with its internal contradictions about tackling the Taliban in North Waziristan, it is losing its security personnel to an enemy it doesn’t know how to identify. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has released another video that shows a terrorist commander posing with the heads of 12 Pakistani troops saying, “Praise be to God that the mujahideen in Bajaur Agency have managed to kill the infidel soldiers of Pakistan”. The carnage took place in the tribal agency where the Pakistan Army is supposed to have pushed back the militants.
Hardly a month ago, the TTP proudly claimed responsibility for the targeted killing of a brave leader of Pakistan’s paramilitary force known for his performance against the terrorists. Pakistan has acknowledged that “15 troops were missing following fighting with militants in Bajaur three days ago”. The operation during which the 12 went missing was mounted to “repel Taliban militants who had crossed over from Kunar province in Afghanistan and occupied a village in Bajaur”.
On the same day, the TTP attacked Peshawar killing 11 people including “an officer of the North Waziristan political administration, his brother, son and cousin” with an explosives-laden Alto parked in the centre of a bazaar. In Quetta, five more Shia Hazaras were cut down by bike-riding Taliban killers near Sabzi Mandi, notching up the total number of Pakistanis killed by the Taliban to 35,000 since 9/11, which most Pakistanis believe was staged by the Americans themselves. They also believe that the Taliban are our own ‘offended’ brothers who will calm down once the Americans are defeated in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is acting more effectively against the Americans than against the Taliban. Its last act of derring-do was the arrest and conviction of Dr Shakeel Afridi through a jirga for “looking after the Taliban wounded” (sic!) while his real ‘crime’ was that he had helped in tracing Osama bin Laden to Abbottabad and thus facilitating the American commando attack that killed the father of terrorism. Pakistan has shown misplaced bravado by refusing to consider the idea of exchanging Dr Afridi with Dr Afia Siddiqi. The new ISI chief has said that “the US should consider the chapter of Dr Shakeel Afridi, who helped the US locate al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, as closed”.
It is clear that Pakistan sees America as its enemy, not the Taliban whom everybody now believes to be the dominant factor in Karachi. The ‘logic’ that shifts the onus of terror from the Taliban to the Americans is the assertion made by Pakistani officials that the TTP is being sheltered and funded by the US from Afghanistan. To make the case more convincing, they add India to the ‘evil conspiracy’ against Pakistan even as we make efforts to normalise ties with India.
Pakistan has been subjected to a massive misdiagnosis of the disease of terrorism that it suffers from. The people of Pakistan are now more or less totally anti-American in response to these official concoctions about who the real enemy of Pakistan is. They look askance at any realistic move made by the Pakistan Army to end the country’s international isolation by negotiating a common strategy against terrorism with the US and its Nato allies. So intense is the public self-deception that when the army chief said the war against terrorism was Pakistan’s war, no one accepted it. Pakistan is wriggling in the vice of its self-deceptions.
What is coming next is the people’s choice of government in 2013 when the country goes to polls. Anyone who does not depict himself as an enemy of America will not get their vote. Pakistan is fast moving to the state of popular mind in South America where leaders are putting their countries at risk by posing as anti-American warriors: Venezuela and Bolivia are now followed by Ecuador in what looks like an unrealistic pantomime as the lives of the people they lead are endangered by faltering economies. Pakistan has even fewer choices because, unlike South America, its people are at risk from its own terrorist gangs.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2012.
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