The Taliban apologists amongst us

Published: July 15, 2012
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Pro-Taliban, anti-American stance is the political trend in Pakistan today.  PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Pro-Taliban, anti-American stance is the political trend in Pakistan today. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The Taliban’s top spokesman has told the international media that the attack on policemen from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in Lahore on July 12, was carried out by his outfit because ‘they were from north-western Pakistan and were involved in the torturing of Taliban fighters’. The targeted policemen were deployed at prisons in K-P. A day later, on July 13, an Awami National Party (ANP) gathering in Kichlak in Quetta was attacked with grenades and Kalashnikovs. This leaves no doubt that the Taliban are now zeroing in, once again, on the ANP.

The Punjab police chief has hazarded that the attacks in the province could be the Taliban reaction to the reopening of the Nato supply routes by the government. The Taliban also owned up to the attack on the Pakistan Army soldiers near Sialkot looking for casualties that had occurred earlier when a military helicopter crashed into a canal amid rumours that it had been shot down. Earlier, a police picket on Babu Sabu motorway junction in Lahore had been attacked. It is possible that in the coming days, attacks on the ANP will take place in the increasingly vulnerable cities of Peshawar and Karachi.

There is no doubt that the Taliban are a power to reckon with in Pakistan but what should be worrisome is the similarity of worldview between them and the other power centres inside Pakistan. The Taliban have pledged to disrupt the Nato supplies, while the national media is overwhelmingly projecting a near universal opposition to the reopening of the Nato routes. The Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), with elements actually interfacing with terrorists, has been out on the road going to Islamabad, gathering unprecedented popular support from the roadside cities on the strength of distribution of bounties that one of the organisations in the DPC with big money has been distributing. The opposition inside Parliament is up in arms against the reopened route and have joined, at least in spirit, with the clerics of the DPC in attacking the elements of the agreement reached by Pakistan with the US on the new terms of the supply route.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan says Parliament is not supreme — however, everyone knows that it is neither parliament nor judiciary that is supreme but the military, which controls policy inside and outside the country. Its power is so wide-ranging that people believe that if it wanted to stop the DPC from creating a pro-Taliban environment in Pakistan, it could have prevented its long march. This makes governance almost impossible — especially in a country where a sizeable chunk thinks that the Taliban view is the right view. As the Supreme Court goes after the prime minister, the weakened parliament is faced with a consensus led by the Taliban and their globally active master al Qaeda.

The Taliban are finally projecting their power into Balochistan where the writ of the state was heretofore challenged by the Balochistan Liberation Army. One can say that it has come late because the Afghan Taliban leadership has always been traced to Quetta where some elements of the Quetta Shura control terror in Afghanistan. If the Taliban took their time, it could only be on the basis of a consideration of not falling foul of the Baloch nationalists. It is now more or less certain that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is sure-footed enough in north-western Balochistan, along the areas where Afghan refugees have consolidated their power after decades of sojourn and have subordinated the local Pashtun population to their power of intimidation. What is worrying is not that the Taliban and their master al Qaeda have spread their wings all over Pakistan; what is alarming is that the thinking of the important institutions, the media, the political parties inside and outside Parliament, and the army seem to be in agreement with this isolationist global terrorist movement.

Today, if you want to do politics in Pakistan and want to survive, push two buttons: one anti-American and the other pro-Taliban saying they have become terrorists because of America and will go back to being good citizens the moment the Americans leave Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (41)

  • Azeema
    Jul 15, 2012 - 9:56PM

    or if you don’t want to be a hypocrite then instead of pushing the buttons just say you have no interest in politics… because an answer which honestly critiques Pak-US-Taliban relationship will get you nowhere…

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  • Iron hand
    Jul 15, 2012 - 10:07PM

    Unlike the cold war, where the problem with the Soviet empire was with the totalitarian government in charge and not the actual people, the problem with Pakistan is, unfortunately, Pakistanis.

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  • observer
    Jul 15, 2012 - 10:11PM

    Oh my God. Here come the Apologists breathing fire and brimstone and swearing Armageddon.

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  • Thoughtful
    Jul 15, 2012 - 10:20PM

    In a democracy you get the governance you deserve.

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  • Afghan
    Jul 15, 2012 - 10:24PM

    The fact that ANP is a prime target of the militants, spontaneously invalidates the allegation of MQM that Awami National Party is likely to be supporting the so-called “Talibanization” in Karachi.

    It is possible that in the coming days, attacks on the ANP will take place in the increasingly vulnerable cities of Peshawar and Karachi.

    The TTP will never put targeting ANP in Karachi on their to-do list as majority of the ANP activists in Karachi have no significant enfranchisement in the government – unlike PPP and MQM.But this will provide a great opportunity to the ANP rival political parties to target ANP in Karachi and get away with it by blaming the Taliban for it.

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  • Arif H. Changezi
    Jul 15, 2012 - 10:54PM

    Without shadow of all doubts that Taliban is grave threat to Pakistan. Unsurprisingly, Taliban’s supporters move freely and march for the terrorist cause of Taliban across Pakistan. Given this verifiable facts, Pakistan has gained an image of harbourer of terrorists in eyes of the world

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  • Cautious
    Jul 15, 2012 - 10:56PM

    especially in a country where a
    sizeable chunk thinks that the Taliban
    view is the right view

    That says it all – when you looking for bad guys I suggest you look in the mirror.

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  • Salma
    Jul 15, 2012 - 11:09PM

    great piece but the generic comments on Afghan refugees in Balochistan are incorrect to say the least – wish journalists do some research on these sensitive subjects also and just don’t depend on heresay.

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  • Ali
    Jul 15, 2012 - 11:26PM

    I’m sorry but this reads like a blog instead of an editorial. Please make more of an effort to represent your paper. Good luck.

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  • Azad
    Jul 15, 2012 - 11:43PM

    A very good example of bad editorial. Giving opinions in editorials is a fact, but they should be backed with reason and facts, not emotions. And this one is too emotional.

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  • Sanest-Insane
    Jul 15, 2012 - 11:49PM

    1st who is TTP and who is Funding them… and who will gain from there activities.. the Pakistan Military or the Americans……. ????? All of us probably know the Answer,,,,

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  • Jul 15, 2012 - 11:52PM

    Today, if you want to do politics in Pakistan and want to survive, push two buttons: one anti-American and the other pro-Taliban

    If Pakistan is not safe for politics then it becomes the duty of Pakistanis abroad to speak up and carry the banner of reform. Oh, but that didn’t work, did it, since the last Bhutto was killed immediately upon returning to Pakistan? Then what alternative is there but to seek revolution instead? What could be more healthy for Pakistan than the replacement of the current trickle-down “democracy” with a bottom-up one grounded in democratic principles? Sure, that isn’t instant gratification but it’s been known to work.

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  • yasir
    Jul 15, 2012 - 11:55PM

    “Today, if you want to do politics in Pakistan and want to survive, push two buttons: one anti-American and the other pro-Taliban saying they have become terrorists because of America and will go back to being good citizens the moment the Americans leave Afghanistan.”

    Last para of the editorial answers your whole argument. Its for politics not a state mindset or military policy. If authorities will curtail the DPC and all other outfits they will gain more popularity and recognition. So better leave them and let the elections decide the fate of the country. Just because DPC is considering Drones as illegal does not means that we should not support the popular uprising against the drone strikes. drones are illegal and innocents are being killed.

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  • farhan
    Jul 16, 2012 - 12:03AM

    god bless taliban

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  • Zohair
    Jul 16, 2012 - 12:12AM

    What prevents you from mentioning the party within the DPC that is giving out handouts

    Why can some journalist not publish a list of the top ten sources of funds for the taliban instead of being coy. Please, we need hard facts instead of opedsRecommend

  • kaalchakra
    Jul 16, 2012 - 12:36AM

    Rather poorly thought-through editorial. I would submit a rather contrary hypothesis.

    May be the Taliban don’t really want to fight against Pakistani army. May be they would like to work with Pakistani military as and when they could or can. May be they are often closer to the aspirations of average Pakistanis than Pakistani liberals are (which would make liberals greater extremists than the Talibanis). May be, many of them are actually more committed Pakistani patriots than the generals of Pakistani military always looking for deals for their own benefit – in that they would fight against external enemies of Pakistan and lay down their lives before Pakistani military takes any risks for itself.

    If any of that is even partially true, then one ought not be surprised that Taliban are not as universally loathed in Pakistan as some liberals would like today.

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  • @plarkin
    Jul 16, 2012 - 12:52AM

    I haven’t heard a single politician speak against the Taliban. Why does Imran Khan not condemn these terrorists. Is there a complicit support in his silence?

    It’s shocking that Pakistan still doesn’t see the deadly peril that the Taliban pose to its very existence. Mobilize on a war footing; take your much vaunted 500,000+ army, with its huge inventory of tanks and fighter jets and let the dogs of war loose. In the cities organize armed squads of civilians to check the influx of Taliban and their sympathizers. Monitor what happens in your mosques.

    And for goodness sake take the American offer of a joint operation against the TTP. Recommend

  • gp65
    Jul 16, 2012 - 1:56AM

    @Sanest-Insane: “1st who is TTP and who is Funding them… and who will gain from there activities.. the Pakistan Military or the Americans……. ????? All of us probably know the Answer,,,,”

    You are implying that TTP is funded by US who gains by the confusion it causes. You are implying that this is a fact that everyone knows. Can you please provide evidence to support these ‘facts’? Also if US supports TTP then why did its drones target their leader Baitullah Masud? In the past such unsupported allegations have also been made about Indian support for Balochistan insurgency.

    Pakistan always tries to imply that if they send terrorists to India (which is a proven fact) India also does the same (unproven). If they support HAqqanis who attack NATO/ISAF forces then US is doing the same with TTP. Thus a tit for tat justification for its actions is implied hwne in fact the overwhelming proof is only one direction, not bidirectional.

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  • s shah
    Jul 16, 2012 - 2:26AM

    No drones and no nato supply routes, as proposed by the rightwing parties, will lead to a resurgance of the Taliban and similar extremists in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, since it is highly unlikely that they will sit quietly in their homes and give up their so called jihad. This is not a solution but will lead to a Somalia like situation in Pakistan of competing murderous warlords and ideologues who will then proceed to fight with each other until there is only one left standing. Is that what we really want?

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  • Feroz
    Jul 16, 2012 - 7:01AM

    You are beating about the bush. The nation was created on the basis of an ideology of Muslim superiority that trumped Democracy. Now when that ideology has seeped in deep and infected a large cross section of people, where is the need to whine. With each amendment to the Constitution the ideology of superiority of a section of the people got further entrenched. It is not possible to tamper badly with the Constitution and not suffer its consequences. One one wants a coconut one should not climb up the mango tree.

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  • Mir Agha
    Jul 16, 2012 - 7:27AM

    Perfect example of emotionalism clouding thought. The Taliban can only be defeated if one has a nuanced understanding of them, their diverse movement, and what lets them function so efficiently. Being American apologists doesn’t help the cause because there are legitimate issues with the Americans, which the Taliban exploit effortlessly while the leftists cry foul of “anti-Americanism” – whatever that means. Taking a stance against drone terror, american terror, and taliban terror is the only way forward. Forward-thinking leaders like Imran Khan see this reality, and are not afraid to call a spade a spade. Being completely anti-Taliban doesn’t help, just like being completely “anti-American” doesn’t work either.

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  • Jul 16, 2012 - 8:51AM

    Whom the Gods decide to punish, they first make them mad.

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  • BlackJack
    Jul 16, 2012 - 9:24AM

    @kaalchakra:
    I agree with a large section of your hypothesis except where you submit that the Taliban are likely to be Pakistani patriots. My understanding is that they are merely the next step in the evolution of an ideological state without frontiers and are hardly likely to allow a man-made line to determine its limits. However, I must say that the point you raise of the liberals being the greater extremists (in current Pakistani view) is intriguing and very well put.

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  • kaalchakra
    Jul 16, 2012 - 11:47AM

    BlacJack

    In the Talibani worldview, Pakistan (and Pakistan-controlled Afghanistan) constitutes a base for greater global Islamic movement. It is to this Pakistan – as an Islamic resource – that they are fully committed. They will fight only to the extent they are forced to protect their access to this resource that they consider legitimately their own – with Pakistan’s external enemies surely, with internal enemies if they have to.

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  • Toticalling
    Jul 16, 2012 - 12:58PM

    There are two sides of Taliban. One that ruled Afghanistan where they showed their true colors. To achieve law and order, they banned criticism, imprisoned women and treated minorities like second rate. We do not want such types in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world.
    If it is only to free their country from NATO troops, that aim is not evil. But killing innocent people is not the right way to go about it. Peaceful protests are the correct way.
    THis 21s century does not need people divided in majority and minority. We are all the same citizens. I was impressed that Altaf Bhei is also of the opinion that we should not call non Muslims as minorities.

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  • gp65
    Jul 16, 2012 - 12:59PM

    @BruteForce: “Whom the Gods decide to punish, they first make them mad.”

    Or as the famous Sanskrit saying goes – Vinaash kaale Vipareet buddhi

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  • observer
    Jul 16, 2012 - 3:34PM

    @Kaalchakra

    In the Talibani worldview, Pakistan (and Pakistan-controlled Afghanistan) constitutes a base for greater global Islamic movement.

    This I can agree to. It is Pakistan that is the ‘Strategic Asset’ and it is Taliban that has gained ‘Strategic Depth’. Those in doubt, just need to recall Lal Masjid, Banu Jail, Mehran and GHQ.

    The Drones need to cover a much larger area.

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  • Zeeshan Sheikh
    Jul 16, 2012 - 3:42PM

    Few Days back, some “innocent white angels” came to my neighbour’s house and started to beating him up. and I instead of helping him joined the “innocent white angels”. and in retaliation the neighbour started to defend himself against the thugs and me for the sake of his life and hence he is the real terrorist. This is the definition of terrorism in this era.

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  • mateen
    Jul 16, 2012 - 4:36PM

    It seems we are collectively blind rather insane apologists, blindly ignoring atrocities of ruthless ferocious elements, always looking for justification of their crimes. If we look at the movies produced in Pakistan during 80s having killers and bandits as heros, reflect our mindset. We always show sympathy for such hero ignoring what such creature can deliver. We collective observation is so weak we cant even discern that to such element religion is way to run kitchen and wield power than a way of life. If we not at least such elements know it well as long as people in general are illiterate and backward, they will gain more power, their hatred for education is not without reason. However lets see how long such elements will gain ground?

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  • sabi
    Jul 16, 2012 - 4:40PM

    we should learn a lesson from zia.he first ruined the constitution and then destroyed this country by strengthning anti democratic forces.the constitution in its present form leaves no room for any bright future but devastation.when will we learn

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  • Butt
    Jul 16, 2012 - 4:46PM

    Since majority of the people want Taliban, the they should contest in the coming elections.

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  • Jul 16, 2012 - 5:23PM

    Here to paste some thing incorrect: [an Awami National Party (ANP) gathering in Kichlak in Quetta was attacked with grenades and Kalashnikovs] the incident in Kuchlagh was totally different described in your first phragraph. Actually a bomb was planted in bicycle some feets away from the main stage of the public gathering. Hope you may correct or edit the piece.

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  • Jul 16, 2012 - 5:30PM

    And the other correction: The Taliban are finally projecting their power into Balochistan where the writ of the state was heretofore challenged by the Balochistan Liberation Army. Here the writer says Balochistan Liberation Army that is incorrect actually the name used in media is Baloch Liberation Army.

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  • Ali Sadozai
    Jul 16, 2012 - 7:05PM

    Life may not be all black & while but one thing for me personally is: If it is okay for Taliban to kill innocent civilians just because it serves their purpose then they are criminals of the worst order and should be hunted down at all costs until the very last one of them. And if any state, army or sections of any society may seem willing to let go of that because they may in some twisted way support or share Taliban worldview, then it must be demanded from such elements to clearly define their positions. Im still hoping most elements being suspected of Taliban apologists are just persuing political goals not knowing the damage they are doing towards confusing and polarizing the society.

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  • AmusedByStupidity
    Jul 16, 2012 - 7:21PM

    @Zeeshan Sheikh
    Ever wonder ‘why’ the innocent white angels chose to beat up your neighbour? If they are so fundamentally evil and not so innocent, then they could easily have beaten you up instead of your neighbour..
    The problem with Pakistan is that we completely forget about cause and focus on effect only… Your neighbour invited the innocent white angels to his house by doing some things… Selective interpretation of history doesnt help nations…
    Laal Masjid tragedy is a very good example of this same mind set. People like you sat around watching these people break the law every second day. You sat around when they fought the first bullet from inside the mosque. You sat around when they didnt let the innocent students leave the seminary. But you decided to wake up after the carnage and made a hero out of these law breakers.. Good job… Now do the same with your neighbour.. Glorify him… Blame the innocent white men.. and watch as this neighbour kills you and your other neighbours…

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  • Peace On Earth
    Jul 16, 2012 - 8:40PM

    It’s fairly simple in my opinion. Despite being an Islamic Republic (which there was no need for and considering the fact that Pakistan is hardly Islamic given its past and present history), had Pakistan fought back against Islamic extremism, spent money on sanitation, energy, and education instead of a useless military and pointless wars against India (all of which we have been defeated in), Pakistan would have been in much better shape.

    Perhaps it’s time for us to drop the Islamic title and become a Democratic nation and allow those with merit, not connections and money, to take key posts and bring Pakistan out of the dark ages.

    For those Pakistanis who live under a rock and believe we are a mighty nation, consider this: We are one of three nations who has NOT eradicated polio (India has) yet has the money to make nukes and bombs.

    Proud?

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  • Syed Ali
    Jul 16, 2012 - 9:22PM

    The Chief Justice stating a legal fact when he said that the Constitution was supreme, not the parliament. A constitution is created by a constituent assembly, which this or any parliament before or after this is not. Just like the judiciary, this parliament is but a creature and not the creator of Pakistan’s consitution, even though the constitution provides it the power to amend the constitution. Ammendment cannot go as far as to recreate the constitution or create contradictions in it and exercise of this check is the sole preserve of the Supreme Court under the same constitution. . The Supreme Court is the sole legal guardian, interpreter and enforcer of the constitution. How complicated was or is all the foregoing that I have written?

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  • Ijaaz
    Jul 16, 2012 - 10:51PM

    “If it is only to free their country from NATO troops, that aim is not evil. But killing innocent people is not the right way to go about it. Peaceful protests are the correct way.”

    @Toticalling
    Man..sometimes I am completely amazed by some of the world view of them hippies…they think the world is all lovely-dovey and all that…dude the world is a tough place..time to grow up…u think if stalin had peacefully protested against the invading nazis, hitler would suddenly have had heart melt and would have backed out??? haha..as bad as it may seem and as unfortunate as we may think it is, war is and always will be a reality, Now please, I am NOT a taliban apologist, nor am a taliban basher..since the reality is more complex I believe for a civilian like me to even comment on…

    Nevertheless, what made me write is this utter ‘mushiness’ (if you will) of some of the so called liberals, Be on the right, be on the left,,be in the centre or damn it..be anywhere u want on the line…but be a pragmatist…Recommend

  • Jul 16, 2012 - 11:47PM

    The Taliban have been one of the main drivers of instability and lack of peace in the region for quite some time. This is not to say that others have not also contributed, but we must be willing to face facts. Anyone who cannot see the danger the Taliban represent for the future of Pakistan and the region is either living in a fool’s paradise or just kidding themselves. Since their inception, the Taliban have been using power to enforce their laws on the people of Afghanistan and now in Pakistan they are trying to do the same. The majority of people on both sides of the border have rejected the Taliban and their ideology in all forms. In the last decade Afghanistan has seen growth in all sector of society from education to a government that is elected by the people. Challenges still very much remain, and the Taliban violence is still a menace, but a developing security force and the will of the people not to regress is helping Afghans to dream a better tomorrow. On the other hand, the Pakistani people have also taken steps to reject the Taliban, as we saw in Swat. Their support comes from a few who regard them as champions of religion but forget the atrocities they commit on innocent Pakistanis in their daily attacks. They even forget that over 35,000 Pakistanis have been killed by the Taliban and their supporters in the last few years alone. The Taliban do not represent a peaceful future. Peace-loving people must see this and act accordingly.

    Capt. Joseph Kreidel
    DET-United States Central Command
    http://www.centcom.mil/ur

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  • Peace On Earth
    Jul 17, 2012 - 9:36PM

    @ US CENTCOM: I hope you are not an impersonator and are the real deal. If so, I salute you sir!

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  • Ihsan
    Jul 19, 2012 - 2:11PM

    The Taliban still have force and influence in many parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. in Afghanistan especially in tribal areas the government is limit till to roads. we can also say that the government rules during the day and the Taliban rule during the night so, there is no choice for the people to go which side but the wise people niether say aganist Taliban nor government which is i think good for them.@US CENTCOM:

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