What will happen after the Americans leave?

Published: June 29, 2010
The writer is currently writing a book, Taliban and Anti-Taliban (farhat.taj@tribune.com.pk)

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

My article ‘Reasons for an operation in south Punjab’ (June 11) came under harsh criticism by some people in Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. These people do not wish to come out openly in the media because they are afraid they would be killed. Through this article I will communicate their criticism of the Pakistanis so as to inform them about this perspective on militancy and terrorism.

I have been accused of being naive, just like the leaders of the Aman Tehrik, an anti-Talibanisation peace movement in Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. I have been asked why I want to see south Punjab bombed and also who was I addressing in my article when I was advocating for an operation in south Punjab. I was asked whether I was asking the military for an operation against the Punjabi Taliban or the politicians, because, in their view, the chances of the latter ordering one were higher — and for “obvious reasons”.

This question makes sense because politicians cannot even bat an eyelid without the permission of the army. In fact the politicians of all the provinces are in a ‘forced alliance’ with the army. Either the ruling class has to be in union with the masses or with the establishment. And that is where lies the essence of the problem — that the civilian leadership and the people need to show some unity because that is the only way that terrorism and the militancy increasingly gaining ground in Pakistan can be effectively fought.

The issue is that what will happen in Afghanistan once the Americans leave and here the view of many is that once this happens, the establishment in Pakistan will use the militants for its own purpose — just like it did in the past when the Taliban regime in Kabul was set up with Pakistan’s explicit backing. In that context, for an operation to be launched in south Punjab seems an unlikely possibility for now, because that would mean closing the door on using the same elements in Afghanistan for consolidation once the Americans leave.

The fear is that once this happens, secular parties such as Awami National Party (ANP), which have taken a defiant stand against the Taliban, may well end up paying heavily — given that the Taliban will once again be in the establishment’s good books. Of course, the ANP could be better off if its rule in the province had provided some semblance of good governance to the province’s inhabitants — but that has clearly not been the case. So once the Americans leave, and the Taliban return in full force, the ANP and its leadership will be pretty much left on its own – or at least that is one prevailing view.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Jun 29, 2010 - 3:32AM

    The emphasis on America leaving Afghanistan is over blown. For one, the July 2011 deadline is not as rigid as the media makes it out to be. Second, the US is not like the Soviet Union. Even if US military operations were to be scaled down, its unlikely that for the foreseeable future America would leave Afghanistan completely and that too with its tails between its legs. No one wanted to have anything to do with the Soviets in Afghanistan, but even if America scales down its military activities, a large development and civilian assistance program is likely to continue. In addition, small scale operations targeting Al-Qaeeda and the use of predator drones will remain at the forefront of tactical American intervention in Afghanistan for years to come.

    Once the US does begin to withdraw, if its learnt anything from history, it would be not to leave a vacuum. As mentioned, American interests will focus on the exercise of soft power. However, they will always maintain a presence. After all we are at the forefront of criticizing the US for dumping us after the Soviets quit Afghanistan. Why do we assume that America is going to withdraw from Afghanistan and never look back? Recommend

  • Riaz
    Jun 29, 2010 - 7:25AM

    Another conspiracy theory from liberal version of Zaid Hamid.Please indicate any area in Punjab which is under control of Punjabi Taliban?What kind of operation you have in mind?Tanks,guns,air force,drones,Infantry marching?Since they do not hold any area,therefore targeted operations against them are being conducted since 2002.Hundreds have been arrested.Remember KSM,caught from Rawalpindi,Abu Zubaida from Faisalabad,and numerous Jihadis, members of Lashkar e Jhangvi,Sipah e Sahaba from various parts of Punjab.Do not believe whatever you are told by ill informed people.Recommend

  • Ghafar Ali
    Jun 29, 2010 - 11:05AM

    I think Farah Taj is more concerned about the future of ANP than the militancy. Does she want America to stay in Afghanistan and save ANP on this side of the border? Good governance and not militancy could decide the future of ANP as the public opinion is totally against the militants which a good omen and the ruling party in the KP should exploit this anti-militants trend.

    The current style of governance in the KP (as best be called in the light of the TI report as Kha Pee) will deprive the ANP of its public support and God forbid, if it continued ruling the province in the present manner, the people will turn towards the militants again.Recommend

  • Shahid
    Jun 29, 2010 - 11:17AM

    Punjab supplies the bulk of brainwashing and human rsources to Taliban and Al-Qaeda. For as long as the centres of indoctrination and recruitment function in Punjab, Taliban and Al-Qaeda cannot be eleminated in FATA. The US needs to cut-off the roots of terrorism, which lies in Punjab, not in FATA or Afghanistan. The myth that Pakhtuns are extremists and terrorists needs to be busted sooner than later. This myth is created by Pakistani military in order to divert the world’s attention from the factories of terrorism in Punjab, which the military has been using as “strategic assets”. Pakhtuns are used as scape-goats. Lets understand the problem.Recommend

  • Tribune lover
    Jun 29, 2010 - 11:47AM

    With due respect, it will be better if the honourable author tries to make her points without invoking her anonymous sources all the time. While she might think that saying so and so from the areas she is referring to said so and so, it makes the reader feel that the author is trying to inflate her credibility through the endless and usually anonymous tribal ‘contacts’ who may or may not exist. Indeed some of the articles are rather off-putting and reminds one of the Pakistani trait of ” huh, look at me I am better than others because I know so and so” (which of course is usually not even true).

    Also, like those of Ayesha Siddiqa and others, it will be interesting to read her articles on a more diverse range of topics instead of flogging the dead horse all the time about the ‘establishment’ as well as on areas beyond her usual fixation with FATA and, once in a while, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

    Thank youRecommend

  • Jun 29, 2010 - 2:46PM

    The current Karzai/haqqani meeting in the presence of COAS and DGISI, and now saying it welcome by Obama shows, no one has learnt from the history…. Once again Afghanistan will be on the mercy of strategic depth seeker and war lords…
    The issue of Good governance is just an effort to undermine the Govt. of War effected province as if objectively studied the most badly governed Govt belongs to Punjab, having O/D’s of billion rupees. Still referring to the TI report prepared by the students members of Taliban sympathizers IJT is not more than a joke, one who was a PML(N) affiliant is heading such groups, it is the same as taking Imran Khan political statement seriously…Recommend

  • Jun 29, 2010 - 3:34PM

    Thanks for sharing info. Recommend

  • Ammar Zafarullah
    Jun 29, 2010 - 4:43PM

    We need to stop investing in non-state actors and operations needs to be across the board, militancy in Punjab is harsh reality and we need to acknowledge this, the head quarters of Lasher-e-Toiba is in Muridkee (Punjab). Jhang is sprawling with Sipah-e-Shahab activists and these are the infamous Punjabi Taliban! Recommend

  • Shahid
    Jun 29, 2010 - 4:57PM

    To “Tribune Lover”: I think the modern world has become too complex for anybody to understand all its aspects. That is why our world is characterised by specialization. Madam. Farhat is specialist in Pakhtunkhwa affairs and the havoc Pakistan military is playing with it. She cannot disclose her sources because the military eleminates such sources within no time. Those who try to prove that they know every aspect of any given society in fact are good at understanding no aspect of that society. Therefore, we need to let writers “fix” on particular subjects.

    As far as the Pakistani establishment is concerned, it is not a dead horse my friend! It is more than alive, thats why it eats up most of your resources. What do you think is the reason for Pakistan’s distinction of being on the list of the top 10 failed states? The “horse” is very much alive and neighing!Recommend

  • mateen saeed
    Jun 29, 2010 - 9:04PM

    Blaming ANP Govt on the basis of TI report is most insensible act on our part. I wonder TI report gave clean Chit to Punjab Govt where C.M Chote Mian Sahib is effective enough to control sanitary workers or other petty staff. Police stations, Patwar Khanas and other Govt offices are still hub of corruption and his beloved Qabza Group is scot free, mostly now elected members of assemblies on N league ticket. However ANP Govt has to prove its worth if their leaders want KP free of Talibans.Recommend

  • H Saqib
    Jun 29, 2010 - 10:10PM

    Exactly the same thing will happen which happened after they left at the conclusion of Afghan “Jehad”. More guns, more heroin and more violence for Pakistan. God help us.Recommend

  • Jun 30, 2010 - 11:28AM

    Dear Farhat
    Hoping to find you well.
    It is true that after the departure of Americans in present circumstances from Afghanistan will remind us what happened there after the departure of the Russian forces.Pakistani generals claimed that they would give a peaceful Afghanistan to Afghans just after the departure of the former USSR forces withdrawl but it proved that the enemies of Afghans could not fulfill the promise. Their hollow promises should not be trusted any more. If Americans or foreigners in Afghanistan and it is widely belived in establishment of Pakistan and this perception is gaining momentum also then Punjabi should also talk about it that whether they are the cousines of Afghans. Punjabi military will also be expellede from Afghanistan like Americans if situations arise so.This time not only Afghanistan will burn, the Pakistan will also go to be segmented into so many pieces.
    This dream of Pakistani establishment will never be materialised.

    Zar ali khan musazai

  • Helmand
    Jun 30, 2010 - 11:42AM

    Dear Farhat Taj

    You article is daring. You are very courageous and inspiring for all those who believe in truth. You write on issues where these pro Taliban bigoted journalists get scarred.

    I also admire your piece on drone attacks challenging the myths of exaggerated civilian causalities and the alleged “unhappiness of Pakhtuns”. No body could dare write against the well established stereotypic thinking.

    I am sure other high minded freinds will share my sientiments when I say you are a beacon of light amids the lies and prejudices spread by these Taliban Journalists. Well done Farhat Taj.


  • Sadia Hussain
    Jun 30, 2010 - 1:46PM

    The withdrawal of allied troops from Afghanistan needs to carried out in stages and for that it is vital that the local security forces are capable enough to fight the Taliban. A withdrawal must not mean that support to the war on terror is cut-back as fall-back will be termed as moral-victory for Taliban. Such a scenario will have implications on Pakistan too as the Jihadists here will have more bargain chips. Recommend

  • Laiba Jehangiri
    Jun 30, 2010 - 4:36PM

    Stupid comment by musazai from Kabul. Live in your ethnocentric bubble and keep blaming others with your racist rants. Surely the so-called enemies of Afghans should not have accepted the 3 million Afghan refugees as well who have lived in Pakistan for decades? Even now almost 2 million are here. *How many Afghans have been accepted as refugees by the United States, one of the richest countries in the world?* Harldy any. Almost all visit visas, without which you cannot board a plane bound to the U.S., from Afghanistan are rejected as well to ensure that the Afghan does not claim asylum on arrival. And really you cannot blame the U.S. Why? No one has an obligation to shelter the refugees of another country, not even a rich country but certainly not such a poor one as Pakistan. If conspiracy theories and ingratitude is what the country gets in return then I won’t be surprised if people seethe with anger. Especially since Pakistan never repatriated the so called “stranded Pakistanis” living in apartheid like squalor camps, who numbered just a quarter of a million, becuase of its limited resources but it did open its doors to millions of Afghan refugees.Recommend

  • Kashif Khan
    Jun 30, 2010 - 5:51PM

    Farhat Taj is one daring lady. She is as mentioned by ‘Helmand’ above, a beacon of light amids the liars/Taliban apologists.
    Being a pukhtoon i can understand it when she mentions her sources but refrains from naming them. Most of us pukhtoons know that Army is playing strategic dramas on our soil with our blood but it’s not easy talking about these issues openly. That’s where Farhat Taj stands out. She has the courage to speak on behalf of all those pukhtoons who are suffering but can’t even complain. And as for TL, I don’t think there is more important an issue than the blood bath of pukhtoons which Farhat Taj should write about. There is no need for such taunts.

    Punjab is where the extremism originated. You will find literature/cassetes of Masood Azhar, Azam Tariq, Hafiz Saeed etc with every Jihadi of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. It’s no secret that these Hate preachers, quite openly, address the gatherings of tens of thousands in Jihadi Ijtemaaat in Punjab. Every day Punjabis are being killed in Afghanistan as well as FATA in NATO attacks. Their involvment in attacks across Punjab is not hidden. What else do we need as evidence ?Recommend

  • Jaffar khan
    Jun 30, 2010 - 9:27PM

    Please do not write a book ,which is going to be a pack of lies,half truths and perception.Recommend

  • Mansoor Khalid
    Jul 1, 2010 - 1:29PM

    I somehow find this hate-speech just like the guy with the red cap used to do. Yeah, the not-so-famous guy who was promoting Ghazwa-e-Hind. Why does the author continuously narrate the fact that the Taliban will return? I mean why? You think after whatever people of Pakistan have seen, they would welcome them with garlands in their hands. Don’t they now know for sure that Taliban are criminals? Like I always say, this needs change in our ideology. The mass refusal of religious extremism is an indication of the fact that such stupid people even if they return will find little or no audience at all.Recommend

  • Bangash
    Jul 1, 2010 - 7:07PM

    if the Americanas/NATO leave, the Taliban and their Alqaeda allies will see that as their second victory over another superpower, and will begin to export their violence/barbarism too neighboring states, just like they did with the Pakistani Taliban.

    It is foolish for Pakistanis to think terrorists will give up their violence and start planting roses once the Americans leave.Recommend

  • Jabbar Khan
    Jul 2, 2010 - 11:57AM

    This is indeed very shocking that Farhat Taj always come up with the idea of supporting US occupation of Afghanistan and its murderous Drone campaign in FATA. I also wonder who gave her the right to support and back US drone’s strikes on behalf of people of Waziristans and rest of FATA. In past nine years People of Waziristan have seen nothing but death and destruction. She portrays herself as spokesperson for Pakistani tribesmen sitting in Norway. As resident of the Waziristan, I know what carnage happens when Drone strikes. Please, this is my humble request, don’t play with our blood so cheaply.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Jul 2, 2010 - 11:06PM

    Respected Farath,
    You are absolutely right in this regards that Terrorists (Taliban) will be another headache for Pakistan and Afghanistan after American departure. Because now they are in full power, they will come in power after American departure from Afghanistan and will disturb the whole scenario again, so what Pakistan can do in this situation?, because Taliban power in Afghanistan will directly effect Pakistan specially FATA.
    In this regards we thank that there should be a full swing operation in southern Punjab for prevention of Talibanization in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well. We thank policy in this regards should be changed other wise we will suffer from Taliban in future and this will directly effect the development of this country.


    Abid Ali Orakzai
    Orakzai AgencyRecommend

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