Reasons for an operation in south Punjab

Published: June 11, 2010
The writer is currently writing a book, Taliban and Anti-Taliban (

The writer is currently writing a book, Taliban and Anti-Taliban ([email protected])

Recently a Pashto radio channel reported Syeda Abida Hussain, a former MNA now allied with the PPP, as saying that the US is determined to eliminate terrorists and American drones might attack them in south Punjab. She said that all terrorists have to be eliminated, if foreign aggression on mainland Pakistan is to be avoided.

Abida Hussain’s view is a good sign in the context of the denial syndrome afflicting many Pakistanis, including politicians. A case in point is the issue of the drone strikes on Fata. All political parties, especially those having links in Fata, such as the ANP, PPP and the JUI-F, know that the tribal people are not as fearful of drone strikes as is made out in the media since they target the terrorists, and are usually quite precise in the damage and destruction that they cause. And yet in their public statements, Pakistani politicians misinform about this issue. One reason might be the fear of a military establishment. The ANP is mostly silent on this issue, and the PPP often misleads the people. Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Yousaf Raza Gilani have been saying that the drone strikes whip up severe anti-American hysteria because of their large-scale civilian casualties. This view is far from being true.

There is, however, one instance when both the ANP and the PPP communicated the tribal view on the drone attacks through the Peshawar Declaration, a joint statement of the provincial leadership of anti-terrorism political parties, including the two political parties and civil society representatives from Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, signed in December 2009. The Punjab-based PML-N has gone too far in its appeasement of its religious vote-bank. The party opposes drone attacks on Fata and rejects any notions of an operation against the Punjabi Taliban. It seems like the Punjab government is patronising terrorists just like the previous MMA government did in the case of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The MMA government was a product of rigged elections engineered by General Pervez Musharraf. However, the PML-N came to power through a popular mandate. A popular government supporting or soft peddling on terrorists could be much more disastrous and my apprehension is that people of the Punjab could greatly suffer if the party does not give up its pro-Taliban stance.

With or without the US, drone attacks in Pakistan have to eliminate the jihadis. Operations have to be conducted in Muridke and south Punjab. The so-called ‘Kashmiri Mujahideen’ and pro-Pakistan Taliban have to be taken by the horns, as should all other terrorists. And it needs to be understood that the jihadis can never be our strategic assets. The quicker this happens, the better for us.

My hope is that Abida Hussain’s view would not be a one-off and other politicians from the Punjab would challenge the pro-militant public discourse. I would also expect the ANP and PPP to inform Pakistanis about the positive views of the tribesmen on the drone attacks.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 11th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Jun 11, 2010 - 1:39AM

    I would also expect the ANP and PPP to inform Pakistanis about the positive views of the tribesmen on the drone attacks.

    With all the passion and emotion that we as a nation have invested in the issue of unmanned drones attacking Pakistan sovereign territory, I am afraid that anyone who speaks up for it, will be swiftly labelled as a traitor or foreign agent (probably by some media figure) just so the state of denial continues.

    After all, if we were to suddenly realise that there is a problem, they are so many religious figures, politicians and generals who are going to loose a lot of influence and power. Realising that we are in denial will be a first step to come out of living in constant fear. Remove the threat of some external boogeyman and our politicians and generals will run out of talking points. Recommend

  • Jun 11, 2010 - 10:09AM

    I believe Pakistani political leaders and the US government know that militants in FATA and in South Punjab are just mercenaries or religiously motivated fighters. Their handlers and ideologues are somewhere else and they are making very good money out of their created mess. Drone attacks can only cripple the militants’ strength temporarily. What we need is a “Massive War of Ideas” to counter the propaganda made in the name of religion. It is an irony that a Talib is killed for taking up a gun without a trial but Munwar Hasan, Jamaat-i-Islami’ amir, roams freely and under state protection as he freely incites youth to take up arms and attack NATO Supply trucks.Recommend

  • Patriot
    Jun 11, 2010 - 11:27AM

    one election that musharraf had to engineer was 2008…wonder why he didnt do that!Recommend

  • Jun 11, 2010 - 12:02PM

    Dear Farhat
    Hoping you are fine!
    Ms. Abida Hussain hailing from Jhang Punjab is the first Punjabi who dared speaking the truth about militancy and its remedy drones. Punjab is a hub of terrorism. All terrorism centers are situated there. One of the centers is Tablighee Markaz situated in Lahore, the heart of Punjab near the house of Nawaz Sharif. This center has destryed the Pashtun. Most of the retired ISI Generals are sitting there and misleading the poor people. It is true that this party is not directly involved in terrorism and Jihad but it does level ground and give production to Jihadi and terrorist organizations as it plays the role of a nursery for the other terrorist groups.
    American should stop funding Pakistani establishment because in the last 10 years it has shown no positve result in war against terror. There are two reasons.
    1. If pakistani military is reluctant to fight against terrorists then no fund should be provided by international community because it is useless.
    2. If it is incapable then it should request for international community to fight along side in FATA and elswhere and wipe out terrorism jointly and eliminate it once and for all.
    If Punjab produces few courageous politicians like Abida then situations will come to normalcy and terrorism will be eliminated.
    But alas this province and its leadership is still not ready to accept the reality.
    After all drones are also effective to some extent when there is no practical step seen on the ground by international community.

    Zar ali khan musazai
    Pashtun Democratic Council

  • Muhammad Ali Qureshi
    Jun 11, 2010 - 12:14PM

    In my opinion there is no need of miltary operation in South Punjab which is Pak army holding in Fata.
    As South Punjab is not a a NO GO AREA.
    But there is need to launch a intelligence based search operation there to hunt the suspected persons who linked with Taliban shcool of thoughts and orgnization.
    The reason of this new campaign to bring red spot on South Punjab while suggesting to launch a miltary operation there is to confuse Pak army in Fata and Punjab and after that they (US, and Other Enemies of Pakistan) will also draw new campaign of so called war against terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi is well.
    I hope our South Punjabi Prime Minister and Foriegn Minister will deeply anylise this foriegn pressure and its benefits to our enemies.
    ALLAH Pakistan Ka Hamio NasirRecommend

  • Sher Zaman
    Jun 11, 2010 - 3:02PM

    Politicians are usually aware of the ground realities in their constituencies; instead of launching a full scale operation in SP, the authorities should reconfirm the threat and if it really exist then an operation will be necessary.Recommend

  • mateen saeed
    Jun 12, 2010 - 12:30AM

    Why to concentrate on southern Punjab, Central Punjab needs more attention with host of terrorist hideouts. Jash Muhammad, Lashker Taiba, Hiz bul tahrir and many others are still collecting funds, terrorists being provided logistic support, funds etc.Recommend

  • zubair torwali
    Jun 13, 2010 - 12:50AM

    They must come out of the state of denail.Recommend

  • Asad Munir
    Jun 13, 2010 - 8:54AM

    The ground situation in FATA can not be compared to Punjab.In FATA the terrorist are holding and ruling vast areas,where there is no writ of the government.In Punjab, no specific area, is being controlled by Taliban.There are small groups,operating from temporary hideouts, which they change frequently.So military operation with tanks,air power,artillery and infantry can not be conducted in Punjab.Targeted raids,based on reliable intelligence,against such hide outs is the only option to eradicate terrorism from these areas.These terrorist mostly belong to banned Jihadi organizations,Sipah e Sahaba,Lashkar e Jhangvi and other out fits.Recommend

  • Jun 19, 2010 - 12:16PM

    Ma’am your house has never been mistakenly targeted by a drone – so I dont believe you have the right to say that the tribesmen of the north should talk positively of attacks from an alien force on their areas killing innocent women and children. Believe me, the terrorists have long relocated to punjab and other parts.

    Action has to come through detentions, monitoring of mosques, so-called charitable organisations etc. You will need to question the generals comfortably ensconced in their villas in Islamabad before such a move. I believe there is a real threat of pakistan deteriorating into a somalia-like situation with 16-year-olds maintaining their brand of law brandishing Ak47s.

    And then you I believe will be a refugee in a camp on the outskirts of Amritsar.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jul 7, 2010 - 8:58AM

    Now that it has been established that drone attacks are good and popular, all Pakistanis should embrace this magic solution right away and get out of denial mode. We should apply it to Karachi, Quetta, Lahore and any other area as soon as possible. America should also help India with Kashmir, Bombay, North east and Nexals. Recommend

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