Good riddance

Published: November 2, 2013

Hakimullah Mehsud is dead. Like his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud, killed in 2009, he died in a drone attack — carried out, we now know, on November 1. The death of a man responsible for the killing of thousands of civilians, scores of security personnel and for some of the most audacious terrorist attacks seen in our country, should have been a source of relief to us. Instead, rather bizarrely, we heard widespread condemnation of the drone attack, which killed a reprehensible criminal, and concern that this will ‘derail’ the peace talks that the government intended to hold with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

The interior minister has condemned the attack, stating its purpose was to sabotage the process of dialogue for which a government team was understood to have already left for North Waziristan. It has naturally been prevented from proceeding any further. However, the information minister has said that the government “will not let dialogue be killed by drone strikes”. The Foreign Office spokesperson, Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, has been equally critical, defining the US-led drone attacks as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and independence. As would be expected, leaders, including Imran Khan of the PTI and Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI-F, have been as critical and termed the drone action a kind of conspiracy. But what is more surprising is the reaction from men such as opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah of the PPP, who has surprisingly also spoken out against the strike and the negative impact of this on a talk effort which is now even less likely than before to go ahead. One would have expected greater wisdom from opposition figures such as Mr Shah, and indeed, also the government. Surely they cannot wish to stand by men like Hakimullah, responsible for multiple acts of mass crime and the most vicious oppression of people who lived under the Taliban rule. Their stance then can only amaze.

The government must realise that Pakistan can know peace only if it is able to get rid of the Taliban and the mindset they represent. Wishing for their leaders to be kept alive would not seem to go along with this. The fact we must face is that while the drone strikes represent a violation of sovereignty, they have indeed succeeded in taking out key militant figures over the years. The question more sensible commentators are asking is why we, as a people most badly affected by militancy, cannot ourselves own the drone attacks and take them over rather than allowing the US to conduct them. The war against terror is, after all, our war. It is 40,000 Pakistani civilians and at least, 3,000 security personnel who have died as a result of this battle. The figures can simply not be ignored.

Yes, as people fear, there is likely to be retaliation after the killing of Hakimullah, just the same as the attacks that came after Baitullah Mehsud was annihilated. We should expect these — but also accept the fact that terrorism has never actually stopped and continues to come in waves on many occasions, leaving many dead. These actions of merciless murder will not end till the Taliban and all their many factions are wiped out and our soil cleansed of them. Logic suggests the killing of senior Taliban leaders, including Nek Muhammad and Waliur Rehman in the recent past, have helped weaken the force. Now that Hakimullah has also gone, and we hear, been safely buried, the TTP should for some time at least, lose further strength as a tussle begins to assume control of it. Several contenders are already being suggested for this post which involves presiding over the systematic killing of Pakistan’s people. Rather than condemning drones and the death of Hakimullah, the Pakistan government should surely be thinking of how it can best capitalise on the situation and work to strike against the Taliban while they remain in a state of some disorder. There should be no doubt we need to go after them with full force and by doing so, make our nation a safe place for everyone.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Khan
    Nov 3, 2013 - 1:18AM

    We need to start dealing with the causes rather than symptoms, like the TTP.

    We have alienated them. After more than half a century of independence, FATA is still a barren land with no infrastructure. How many options do they have other than to join the lucrative TTP? At least that way they get to eat well, drive around in a car and sport a good weapon.

    If we are serious about the getting rid of the TTP mindset, then we should start by providing the best education to each and every person in Pakistan. That is how you change a mindset, not with bombs, if anything, they are just reinforcing the existing mindset.

    If artillery and machinery were enough for ruling over a people then I think we would still have been a part of The Great Britain.

    The State of Medina in the time of Mohammed, based on justice, freedom and the right to a good lifestyle, is something we should atleast try to replicate if a solution for the current crisis is to be reached.

    Violence is never a permanent solution. It’s ironic that the history of the very country that is droning us has ample proof of that.

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  • Imran Ahsan Mirza
    Nov 3, 2013 - 4:58AM

    The talks are a sham. I personally fully support US to kill such people, those who have blood of thousands on their hands. Talking with Nazis didn’t lead to peace when Neville Chamberlain met Hitler. Taliban have similar narrow minded philosophy of the world based on extremist and murderous way of life, we can never live by compromising with this way. The longer Pakistan government takes to realise the longer it will take to establish peace.

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  • Diogenes
    Nov 3, 2013 - 10:25AM

    @khan

    If India was killing thousands of Pakistanis every year, would you advocate non-violence against India?

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  • MA
    Nov 3, 2013 - 1:27PM

    Is seems pretty obvious that Pak Secret Services knew of this Terrorists whereabouts. Then why didn’t they take him out. The reward for this from USA would have been enormous in future Aid.

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Nov 3, 2013 - 1:57PM

    Good intelligence can be sometimes expensive. I suppose 1.6 Billion worth?

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  • Nov 3, 2013 - 2:19PM

    The finest editorial exposing the hypocrisy of our political leadership

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  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Nov 3, 2013 - 2:50PM

    He was a “BEAST” & deserved to die like a beast.He was responsible for thousands of deaths of innocent people of Pakistan & yet PTI & PML(N) are crying for this animal.If they think the policy of appeasement of TTP is going to work they are living in a fool’s paradise

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  • V. C. Bhutani
    Nov 3, 2013 - 4:32PM

    In substance I agree with the main thrust of this editorial. For once we find things being called by their proper names. Leaving aside points which I would rather say differently, it is encouraging that ET has been forthright in saying that Pakistan needs to get rid of terror and terrorists. It is not my observation, however, that Pakistan’s army and Pakistan civilian government are indeed agreed on that point. The present situation is no serious and alarming that it is likely to prove a make or break moment for the country. Both army and government need to do as ET says, namely, to take on terrorists headlong and finish them off once for all. They need to give up all hope or expectation of using terrorists as assets in any respect. By now it is clear that Pakistan’s terrorists are not under the control of any other source of power in Pakistan, whether army or the civilian government. If these two do not join now to tackle terrorists as a common menace, then there is distinct possibility – and I hope not probability – that Pakistan may experience what we know in history as a reign of terror. In that kind of a situation no one knows who is one’s friend and who is one’s enemy. There is unplanned and directionless violence all round. It is a fact of the situation that there are unknown and perhaps unlimited quantities of arms and armaments in Pakistan at the disposal of terrorists and others. At the receiving end will be ordinary unarmed people who will not know where to look for protection or help. Such a phase shall not bring much solace to anyone: terrorists too shall fly at each other’s throats and indulge in wanton killing. The editorial reminds us that TTP is not a monolith but some kind of a loose conglomerate of disparate terrorist outfits or factions. And of course there are others. I hope my prognostication is wrong. I hope people in the army and in government shall have far sight enough to deal with terrorists at least NOW. V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, 3 Nov 2013, 1700 IST

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  • unbelievable
    Nov 3, 2013 - 5:35PM

    And lets not forget this mass murdering thug’s assistant was just caught by the American’s inside Afghanistan trying to negotiate a deal with Karsai to use Afghanistan as base to attack Pakistan. Doesn’t sound like a guy who was on the verge of making peace with Pakistan.

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  • Last Word
    Nov 3, 2013 - 9:35PM

    Brilliant editorial and analysis par excellence but those at the helm of affairs lack discretion and vision to take Pakistan out of the woods. Only zero tolerance to terrorism, abandoning policy of using terror as a tool by the state and crushing terrorism with an iron hand can only bring lasting peace and the economy back on its rails.

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  • Ashah
    Nov 3, 2013 - 9:43PM

    Be thank full to the Americans that they Droned this Guy and others which should have been the Job of the Pakistan Army !

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  • Brave
    Nov 4, 2013 - 5:46PM

    How long we bent and scare from someone who is expert in making bombs, brain washing, killing our soldiers, extortion, kidnapping etc etc. Do you really think this peace movement ensures secures our living.

    This peace movement is merely buying time to regain strength by Talibans. Hit them harder and harder. Pakistan should stop drone strikes, but take ppl of Pakistan into confidence that there will no more shedding of blood.

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