The attack on Malala and the forensics of negotiation

Published: October 9, 2012

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The attempted murder of a young girl in Swat is not such a simple thing. It goes beyond the base forensics of the event. We are, after all, more than meat and ballistics. We must take into account the thoughts and feelings of the victim. Of the murderer. Of those who witnessed the crime or were connected to it. It is only then that we can hope to construct a thorough examination of the reality of the event, even if it is built on largely subjective foundations.

The facts are these, as of this writing: Malala Yousufzai, a young girl who bravely chronicled her struggles to get the education that is her basic human right –  during the height of the Taliban’s occupation of Swat – was shot at by Taliban gunmen. The Taliban have accepted responsibility for this attack, even giving a laundry list of justifications for targeting a child. While I write this, she is still in the hospital and I don’t know if she will live.

Now let’s consider the perceptions around what has happened, because a great deal of what the reality of this crime will become is dependent on that. If that sentence is too heady for you, I apologise. Here’s an example of what it means: Salman Taseer was killed by Mumtaz Qadri. One man killed another. According to the raw forensics, a crime occurred. However, because of the perceptions around what happened, the victim was labeled a criminal and the murderer a hero. If you fit the profile of the average reader of my columns, you most likely disagree with this description. But reality is dictated by consensus. And consensus is informed by the majority. And the majority declared Qadri the hero. So that is how he will be seen in Pakistan for most people and how our history books will remember him.

To analyse the consensus reality around what happened to Malala, let’s first study the motivations of the attackers. No guesswork is needed here, since they so helpfully detailed them for us. Their spokesman said, “She was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban and she was calling President Obama her idol…She was young but she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun area.”

So no surprises there. But it is important to consider, especially based on what we will do next. Because next we are going to analyse the reactions of those surrounding the event. Majority of people, I think it is safe to make that guesstimate, were horrified by the attack. The flood of prayers and support for Malala is evidence of that. But after the first moments of shock and sadness, anger set in. And anger always needs a direction. So we get angry at the Taliban. They committed the crime after all. But that is not a satisfying enough vent, as you can’t exactly tell them how you feel. Anger when rendered impotent, does not fizzle out but simply redirects. And that is where the fragmentation began. All of a sudden, a unified mass that hated the Taliban dissolved into smaller clusters, each screaming at a different target. America is to blame for the drone attacks that angered the Taliban in the first place. The army is to blame for creating the Taliban. Afghanistan is to blame for creating the Taliban and then not containing them. The BBC is to blame for broadcasting Malala’s views and thus making her a target. Imran Khan is to blame for believing in negotiations. And so on. Etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum, as they say.

I have yet to see anyone blame Malala herself, but I don’t doubt that it will come soon, if it hasn’t already begun behind closed doors. Pakistan has, after all, never been kind to the victim.

All of this blaming is an interesting result, especially given that the culprits were ready to accept the blame right from the start. But like I said, that is not good enough for us. They may have made it easy for us to hate them, but there is just too much hatred to go around right now for it to be focused on a single target.

So far, I’ve tried to keep my own opinions out of this analysis, but here’s where I will stick my impressively proportioned nose in. From here on out, it’s all my opinion. My analysis of the circumstances that led to a bullet entering a girl’s body and my analysis of what should be done after. My hope is that it is a convincing enough argument that it influences consensus and becomes reality. But then don’t we all hope for that?

I’ll start by playing the blame game as well. I blame the Taliban, first and foremost. They are happy to take my anger and hatred so I give it to them freely. But since my anger overflows this meager cup, it must splash on others too. I blame the government. All of it. Which means the lion’s share of the excess blame falls on the PPP. There can be a million excuses why the Taliban can still operate with impunity in Pakistan, a lot of them legitimate. But if you are the ruling party, then you must accept responsibility for your failures. And the PPP has resoundingly failed. It is a mark of how little faith we have in them that most people don’t even take the time out to blame them. It would, we reason, be like blaming a cobra for biting you. Or more specifically, a lame dog for limping. The PPP alone does not form a government, however. The PML’s in all their various, useless incarnations can be thrown in the ditch as well. While you are at it, toss in the JI, the ANP, the MQM and anyone else who is left. They have all variously supported, suckled, sheltered and encouraged the Taliban. Some through inaction, others through active patronage and the rest through not standing for anything other than their own greed and perpetuation. So damn them all too.

There is one group I left out of this list and that is on purpose. See, the PPP, PML’s, ANP, JI and MQM all pretend as though there is no problem with the Taliban. It is how they choose to survive until the next election, which is as far as they are capable of seeing with their limited vision. Imran Khan’s party, however, has made the challenge of tackling the Taliban a large part of its overall agenda. It is also the only party that hasn’t held any power at all so far.  Perhaps, when it finally does gain some measure of political influence, it will address the issue. Which is why I want to talk about how wrong they have it. On their current path, once they gain more political influence, they could cause genuine damage.

This isn’t, I hope, just another attack on the PTI. I think the easy access to members of the organisation and their proximity to editorial columnists has resulted in them being made a target for lazy criticism. They invite some of it themselves with their attention-grabbing tactics, but that might just be me blaming the victim.

I’m going to start by setting up a bit of a straw man and I apologise for that. It won’t be to make an easy target that I can knock down and feel good about myself, as I hope to fill this straw man with all the arguments and claims that I have heard from PTI members since the attack on Malala. Until I get the opportunity to debate one of them in person without losing my temper, this format will have to do.

The most common thing I hear from the PTI is that this attack and all others like it are a result of the ongoing drone attacks. That the Taliban are behaving this way in retaliation for America’s usage of those robotic drones. And that the only way to end all of this is to enter into negotiation with the Taliban, since all else has failed. By “all else” it apparently means “war and bombings.”

Now allow me a rebuttal. The Taliban don’t claim that Malala was involved in drone usage. They targeted her because she believed in her right to education and vocalised that belief. They said so themselves. To ascribe ulterior motives here is disingenuous. They attacked Malala because the Taliban believe that women are chattel, with no rights to access the tools for self-development. This isn’t a theory. This is based on the rules they imposed on Swat when they occupied it, Afghanistan when they ruled it and every statement they make justifying the bombs thrown at schools. Linking it to drone attacks makes no sense here. The drone attacks may also be something they dislike. It’s quite likely, given that the drones are supposed to be targeting them (even if they somehow manage to kill more families of innocent people than actual members of the Taliban). But this attack was a separate issue entirely. It was born of their fanatical subscription to a religious system of belief that they think informs their actions. In other words, they think this is what their religion tells them to do (please note that I was very careful in my word usage here and am in no way saying the religion actually says that, just that they think it does). And this is important because it lies at the heart of the negotiation challenge that the PTI seems so keen to take up. Their terrorism is not caused by the drone attacks alone. It may be one reason, but not the only. The other reasons have been clearly stated by them repeatedly. They want women to be deprived of education, they want their personal, brutal interpretation of Shariah law to be implemented across Pakistan and they want all of it or they won’t stop until they get it. There were no drones over Swat when they had control of it and they still turned that city into a charnel house.

There are some rules to a negotiation. It relies on rational players on both sides. For it to be fair, the players should be on equal standing. None of this is currently in evidence. If tomorrow, somehow, the PTI get their wish and we enter into negotiations with the Taliban, what exactly are we to ask for? “Don’t bomb us, don’t impose your version of justice on us, leave the women alone. In return, we will discontinue the drone attacks?” There has been no evidence that this single bargaining chip will satisfy their massive appetites. In fact, any reasonably intelligent person can look at their history and read their manifestoes and conclude that it will mean nothing to them. To appease them we will have to give up those things that no democratic society should ever have to. This, by the way, doesn’t even take into account the fact that we will be negotiating from a weaker position. You see, we are scared of them and rightfully so. They have no such fear of us. So when we sit at the negotiating table, we sit with no bargaining chips of worth and on a chair several inches lower than theirs. Also, their reactions defy conventional understanding of rational behavior. It’s a no-win proposition.

Is the alternative then, a reasonable PTI member might say, to continue the drones and the state of war that has proven ineffectual for 5 years? Probably not. The drones have done far more damage than good, that much is clear. For every member of the Taliban they have killed, they have radicalised many, many more. Americans don’t understand that their assassinations aren’t just meat and ballistics. One dead Taliban isn’t equal to one dead Taliban. There are perceptions that are created and consensus realities that are formed around that killing which seem to be exacerbating the problem.

So now what? Well, there are no easy answers. The Taliban seem as though they are here to stay for the long term. Even if the army were to go in and exterminate every single one, they are a force born of ideology. More will take their place. Similarly, the tactic of negotiating for peace is also a flawed one since we can’t give them what they want and they don’t want anything less than everything. To get at the answer we might need to spend a great deal more time considering unconventional approaches. We will need impressive brains with access to impressive resources to work on this. Unfortunately, we have put none of this in place. Instead, we have a government that is only concerned with it’s own survival, an army that seems unable to decide between fostering the Taliban and fighting it and a populace that is too tired, too hungry and too damn worn down to give any more of itself. All of which creates a consensus reality of defeat. This is a cop-out on my part, I know. If I had a solution, I would have readily provided it. Instead, all I can see are the deep and obvious flaws in what is currently on offer.

None of which is of any use to a small girl who hopes for a better future, in which her perceptions aren’t cut short by the hard edged reality of a bullet.

Ejaz Haider’s column will appear on Thursday

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (90)

  • Muahmmad zahid
    Oct 9, 2012 - 11:19PM

    What was most disturbing about this brutal attack was that it was being justified by religious apologists by talking of drone attacks.our public has sunk so low that now they’re justifying killing our own children at the hands of the religious fanatics just because militants are being targetted by drones.
    Drones don’t target children,the Taliban did.
    The taliban expressly stated that they wanted to target malala,they intentionally targetted a child.


  • Syed Saquib Ali
    Oct 9, 2012 - 11:24PM

    Amazingly written. Resonates with the reader. May Malala live to see her dream come true inshAllah!


  • Jawad U Rahman
    Oct 9, 2012 - 11:24PM

    Excellent analysis of PTIs impotent policy on Taliban. It is instructional to read the very weak and lame ‘condemnation’ of the attack on Malala by PTI. There is absolutely no revulsion or resolve or solidarity shown as Pakistanis against the avowed enemy. Their statement is merely asking for a ‘thorough investigation’ (as if it is a robbery or some routine crime) and starts and ends in finger pointing and political point scoring. In their world vision, US pullout will satisfy these barbarians attacking our children, and negotiations will somehow convince these butchers to peacefully lay down their arms.


  • Oct 9, 2012 - 11:28PM

    I pray for the girl and hope she finds a way out of this place once she recovers. Everything else is irrelevant.


  • Chopper
    Oct 9, 2012 - 11:30PM

    “Similarly, the tactic of negotiating for peace is also a flawed one since we can’t give them what they want and they don’t want anything less than everything.”

    Doesn’t this also apply to Kashmir issue? so why are we trying to make peace with India? ;)

    “The drones have done far more damage than good, that much is clear. For every member of the Taliban they have killed, they have radicalised many, many more.”

    And that is EXACTLY the stance of PTI. Imran Khan never said Taliban will lay down their arms as soon as drone attacks are stopped but at least “many, many more” people will stop joining Taliban thus making it easier to defeat them.


  • Talal
    Oct 9, 2012 - 11:31PM

    They never said that she was targeted because she was vocal for her right of education. They claimed because she was supporting US policies and idealized Obama for which she was targeted. I can never buy such a sorry argument for this inhumane and heinous crime, but what I want to argue is that on which point the author has built up his argument is actually flawed.


  • Falcon
    Oct 9, 2012 - 11:34PM

    Sami – Good to see you on ET after a long time. A very insightful analysis. May God help the poor girl. I am very depressed to say the least. My only feedback is that we really need to give our best to this issue. We can not eliminate them. We have to deal with the issue strategically and that would require a combination of de-radicalization, reduction of political space available to militants, better law enforcement, dialogue, and military option. Most importantly, it will require shared policy making between civilians and military on the issue. Right now, only military is calling the shots on militant containment strategy and as obvious, it is not bringing forth results at the pace we would like to see.


  • Nadia Zafar
    Oct 9, 2012 - 11:55PM

    this is whee you are wrong. if you think there is no solution for this mess. THERE IS. if we look at the root cause of where things went wrong, you will find it all starts when a society turns inward against itself, identifying a part of itself as a disease, and using all means possible to get rid of it.Starting with the ‘expulsion’ of the Ahmaddiyya community from the ‘circle of Islam’ something which the society had NO RIGHT TO DO, it passed a verdict against itself. That action turned into a snowball effect, slow at first, with random killings of Ahmadis,then christian targets, Hindus and now Shias are on the hit-list. Hatred doesn’t grow out of nothing. It grows out of ignorance and intolerance. This is why, we need to go back to start. Make a new constitution where NO CITIZEN of Pakistan will be considered as an alien or second citizen or minority. Get rid of that word ‘minority’ first. you start discrimination with that word and you end up giving oxygen to twisted yet fertile minds.Make a Constitution which will uphold the true dignity of life, respect and honour of all citizens of the state,regardless of their color,caste,religion or creed. You dont need PTI or PPP or anyone else to do that. You need to build a public sentiment which will, hopefully, make these petty politicians take this absolutely necessary step FORWARD.


  • sabi
    Oct 9, 2012 - 11:57PM

    If GHQ decides a new policy,to crush taliban unconditionaly, I bet IK will abide by it without any shame.


  • Falcon
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:05AM

    On the note of PTI, following is the excerpt from Dawn on IK’s statement regarding the shooting of the poor girl.

    “Expressing deep sorrow on the incident, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan, in a statement, said that firing upon innocent students was blatant terrorism and the perpetrators behind this act should be brought to justice.
    He said that Malala was working to promote education despite difficult circumstances.
    He demanded of the government to take serious notice of the attack and take action against the elements involved in it.”


  • Sinclair
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:25AM

    The people who will be most disappointed if IK ever comes to rule Pakistan will be PTI supporters. IK is a lightweight. Hope the poor girl recovers soon.


  • saif
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:26AM

    i am part of a few who dont really bother posting about any current affairs and politcal things in social media but this is just sad , a least we have a few people who are oppsing it . seems only a matter of time when we see people supporting tthis too. a sad sad day.


  • Usman
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:29AM

    No mention of the USA making peace and negotiating with the Taliban.


  • afzaalkhan
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:31AM

    Thank you for sane voice, The anger the fury must be directed at Taliban foremost, donot let them fragment it. All who love pakistan must use this to form the consensus to get rid of these rabid dogs. Political point scoring will only lead to more fragmentation and helps Talibaan only.


  • Rao Salman
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:33AM

    It is the time to decide Pakistan is no more going to be black mailed by these ignorant people who claim to be the champions of Islam……….We must unite and struggle to set our country free from these extremist!!!!


  • Jawad U Rahman
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:34AM

    Will the tiger Imran Khan be brave enough the name the elephant in the room? What will it take for him to call a spade a spade?
    Mr. Khan: it is not an un-named, un-identified generalist run-of-the-mill terrorist. This is a Taliban butcher which committed the crime and they have admitted it. Will you be man-enough to name the perpetrators in your condemnations so as not to confuse your well-meaning followers? Please show some basic leadership and wisdom.


  • Utkarsh
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:37AM

    @Chopper: India isn’t asking for anything when it comes to Kashmir. And India already has most of Kashmir. Incorrect analogy.


  • sabi
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:38AM

    In war either you kill enemy or you capture them alive and bring them to your own tems or lose the war..And in case of ceasefire dialouge is started on the basis of give and take.Now let me your party demands ceasefire and diaoluge with taliban.What kind of give and take PTI may offer to taliban.


  • Shoaib
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:40AM

    All due Respect Mr. Sami but ur biases leads u to look at PTI’s policy superficially.
    Its not only about talking & negotiating with the Taliban, its first and foremost abt taking away their ideological ammo, that pakistan is part of a US occupation(war on Islam) of Afghanistan. Then its about winning the hearts and minds of the locals in the tribal region, bringing them to our side, reducing the Taliban to the minority ideological members who then can be targeted with the help of the locals.
    their maybe a lot of maybes and ifs in this strategy but as u said… u hv anything better?


  • Parvez
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:42AM

    The TTP may be the criminals but the blame of this incident rests on the Government’s of Pakistan past and present and on the shoulders of those who support the TTP.
    Nice to see that you are back writing for ET.


  • Logic Europe
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:44AM

    you have to live Taliban but never surrender to them,and you have to support your government and army,there is no choice in that A weak government which is constantly harrased and discredited is no position tontake on the Taliban ,


  • Something Clever
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:50AM

    and his quote does exactly what annoys people. He dodges denouncing the Taliban itself directly and shifts more towards political point scoring. As if those men weren’t a reflection of the Taliban as a whole. Like they were random criminals. The same concept you find people doing in regard to religion except “Not all Muslims are terrorists” can work and “Not all Taliban are terrorists” can’t.


  • gp65
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:05AM

    @Falcon: I agree wholeheartedly with the holistic approach you proposed which includes government and military. It must also include opposition, media and judiciary. Opposition sometimes aid radicalization by being apologists for terrorists, media focuses more on TRPs and tamasha than working to reverse the radicalization that they themselves in some measure have facilitated and judiciary needs to examine its processes that let all terrorists go free.

    Good luck Pakistan. Seeing stories such as Malala breaks one’s heart but without deradicalizing the polity, brave young girls like her will be nothing more than a 24 hour news cycle TRP bump. I hope this counts for more – just like the Swat flogging had galvanised people.


  • Ex Pakistani
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:11AM

    There is truth in this statement “People deserve the government they get”. So if the government is to blame, ergo, the people are to blame.


  • gp65
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:14AM

    @Sinclair: “The people who will be most disappointed if IK ever comes to rule Pakistan will be PTI supporters.”

    What makes you think so? They have so far not been disappointed by failure to hold the internal elections which were announced with such fanfare – have they? They were not disappointed when the destination of the peace march was abruptly changed from NWA which is raining drones to South Waziristan without explanation – were they? They were not disappointed when the defiant we will go to South Waziristan come what may – despite warning by political agent – became oh we can’t go beyond Tank because army said – were they?

    And why just PTI supporters. What of the rest? Despite partition of the country under military auspices, they still welcomed Zia did they not? Despite everything that happened under Zia, they still distributed sweets when Musharraf came did they not? Just today there is an OpEd discussing whether democracy is a boon or bane implying that military rule could still be considered once again.

    Where is the course correction and learning from history? BEfore people point out all things going wrong in India let me say – yes. There were mistakes made in the past and some will be made in the future. But we do not repeat the same mistakes.


  • Mirza
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:14AM

    A great Op Ed that brings the point home. Thanks the writer and ET for that.
    Make no mistake about it there is a jihad going on against the innocent Pakistani civilians particularly, minorities, women and children. The battle lines are drawn and on one side the secular, democratic parties on the other there are rightwing supporters of these fanatic terrorists. After every criminal act of Taliban no matter how despicable it may be there are always rightwing apologists who justify their criminal acts.
    ZAB, BB or Taseer may not be ideal democrats, liberals or nationalist leaders but even they were not acceptable to rightwing fanatics. I have nothing in common with any of the ruling parties but I would always choose the ruling coalition as they are the lesser of the extremes. It is about time we recognize our real enemies and use our brains not emotions and defeat these terrorists. One wonders without drone attacks how much stronger and bolder the Taliban would have been?


  • Oct 10, 2012 - 1:17AM

    A lengthy yet insightful read, where blame is equally shared but the government including the opposition takes the lead in the blame somehow. And obviously Imran Khan is only concerned so far in a manner that COULD put the future of Pakistan at stake no more than today, or even worse. Who knows.

    We need to set the priorities if we still have to find someone to put a blame on. And not just blame but a solution. Nothing is working so far!! We are fighting against the “ideology”, not just the stringy bearded Taliban.


  • Tch tch
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:20AM

    That was quick. cant waste a tragedy. Must push agenda.


  • Danish
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:28AM

    @Usman. Dear USA is doing peace negotiations with Afghan Talibans and not with Pakistan Talibans. If one looks into the agenda or purpose of making TTP, it was solemnly made to carry out attacks, deep inside the Pakistani territory. These two are different organizations and Afghan Taliban cannot compete with TTP in barbarism and brutality.


  • TJ
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:30AM

    If Imran Khan is opposing this; why did he let Taliban ‘protect’ his rally in Waziristan!?!?!? That thought is disgusting!!! He can fool the fools; not everyone.


  • Chopper
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:30AM

    @sabi, and what is the current policy of GHQ? to play Ludo with Taliban?


  • Acorn Guts
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:39AM

    Superstitions that have become tenets, customs that have turned to beliefs & too many sheep riding the runaway train of extremism on the ticket of religion. Won’t be easy to pull ourselves out of all this without proper leadership and that’s exactly what we are missing.

    I agree that with us, initial wave of anger subsides to make way for a headless fragmented society with no fixed goal and all individual efforts (if any) disappear due to lack of focus.


  • noname
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:45AM

    another piece of word magic that caters only one side of the story. to mix up taliban and muslim scholars is the mistake which is expected from a layman and not the person who writes articles for a renowned paper. ONLY A HANDFUL OF SCHOLARS SUPPORT TALIBAN. the rest are not given coverage because it is not important, it doesnot create any hype, excitement, reaction. i would advice you to not to go to extremes when writing an article. those people are extremist by arms and you are by words. both of them lead to destruction.


  • Tch tch
    Oct 10, 2012 - 2:00AM

    So its all PTI fault the government with 20,000 Army men can provide security in Swat.
    But I thought after the very successful mass carnage in Swat you were cheering, everything was Hunky Dory now. But of course its all IK fault. Everything is.
    10 more years of Dorne strikes and Military operations should fix things, Right.
    No need of finding the actual perpetrators. Time to rain Artillary shells and F16 munition on other lesss worthy Malala Yusufzais.


  • Sinclair
    Oct 10, 2012 - 2:37AM


    Agree with your comment, but I still think some of the more passionate supporters of PTI really do expect good leadership out of it. It is really depressing for youth when their implicit trust in a chosen leader is broken (the first time around, that is).

    “Despite partition of the country under military auspices, they still welcomed Zia did they not? Despite everything that happened under Zia, they still distributed sweets when Musharraf came did they not? Just today there is an OpEd discussing whether democracy is a boon or bane implying that military rule could still be considered once again.”

    On this particular point, I think it might be due to a sense of non-ownership of the country (not the land, but its governance) by the people. Its like they are living in a holiday home, waiting for the vacation to end so that they can return. No one including themselves knows where home is.


  • Aviator
    Oct 10, 2012 - 2:38AM

    THE SOLUTION: Retaking ownership of our religion, Islam, from the Taliban. Instead of being silent whenever they target children, schools, mosques, every Pakistani, specifically the religious scholars, should highlight appropriate parts of the Quran and Hadith to the Taliban to show them that they are wrong.

    The scholars and Imams need to all condemn the acts of the Taliban, to show them that their actions are un-Islamic.

    As a nation, we have only ourselves to blame, for supporting and allowing the Taliban to flourish. Now, its up to us, and only us to stop the Taliban.Recommend

  • gp65
    Oct 10, 2012 - 3:06AM

    @Chopper: ““Similarly, the tactic of negotiating for peace is also a flawed one since we can’t give them what they want and they don’t want anything less than everything.”
    Doesn’t this also apply to Kashmir issue? so why are we trying to make peace with India? ;)”

    Two brief points:
    1. India is the status quo country it wants nothing from Pakistan other than to be left alone. IT wants not an inch of Pakistani land – it is Pakistan that wants to alter the borders.
    2. What he is advocating is an all -out war with Taliban instead of negotiation. You have already tried it with India – multiple times and it did not quite work out right?
    3. The army’s job is to protect your borders. India has not encroached on Pakistani sovereignty, the Taliban have.

    So inaccurate analogy on all counts my friend.


  • Chopper
    Oct 10, 2012 - 3:41AM

    @gp65, there’s a tiny problem though…Kashmir is part of Pakistan not India ;) Now of course you will say I am wrong and Kashmir is an integral part of india….hence proving my analogy to be correct that you can’t be negotiated with since you are not willing to compromise on kashmir and neither are we. My friend try to understand the analogy before commenting.


  • gp65
    Oct 10, 2012 - 3:42AM

    @Sinclair: “On this particular point, I think it might be due to a sense of non-ownership of the country (not the land, but its governance) by the people.”

    Thanks for responding. I think it is more like waiting for a saviour with a magic wand who will set everything right. Surprising in a land where 97% believe in the concept of khatm-e-naboowat.


  • sabi
    Oct 10, 2012 - 4:48AM

    “and what is the current policy of GHQ? to play Ludo with Taliban?”

    what else?Recommend

  • gp65
    Oct 10, 2012 - 4:50AM

    @Chopper: Thank you. We can disagree but as long as we are civil to each other, we can continue to discuss. I understand your point – even though as you might expect I disagree. However even if we take your point at face value, that still only addresses point number 1 that I referred to. What about points 2 and 3? In other words, are you proposing yet another war with India in the same way as Mr. Sami is proposing a war with Taliban?

    You might be surprised that there is one implied opinion of yours that I actually agree with. Rather than focusing on Aman ki Asha – the 2 countries just need to leave each other alone to improve the lives of their poor and deprived people.


  • Marium
    Oct 10, 2012 - 4:56AM

    Sami Shah, have missed reading your writing quite a bit on ET, and I have to say you took the words right out of my mouth. Wonderful yet sad to read this. I hope Malala survives.


  • Mariam Ispahani
    Oct 10, 2012 - 5:23AM

    Well analyzed and written article, thanks! I think any which way you look at this situation and similar ones in Pakistan, the bottom-line is… corruption. X won’t get rid of Y, Y won’t stop killing Z, etc… because the common thread is love of money, thus, corruption.


  • R2D2
    Oct 10, 2012 - 7:51AM

    I have never heard any forceful statement against talibans who target schools and kids but have no shortage of rallies against drones that at least do not target kids or schools.


  • Raw is War
    Oct 10, 2012 - 8:07AM

    Taliban still your “assets”?


  • supah che
    Oct 10, 2012 - 8:17AM

    SO totally soaked up all the anger, angst, disgust and nnngh behind your words. now let’s see if this festers or becomes radioactive.


  • Oct 10, 2012 - 10:15AM

    “Some through inaction, others through active patronage and the rest through not standing for anything other than their own greed and perpetuation. So damn them all too.”

    OMG, you just made it sooooo clear, the whole situation.

    “Their terrorism is not caused by the drone attacks alone. It may be one reason, but not the only. The other reasons have been clearly stated by them repeatedly. They want women to be deprived of education, they want their personal, brutal interpretation of Shariah law to be implemented across Pakistan and they want all of it or they won’t stop until they get it”

    This is something which PTI leader really needs to think about as it is very clear that we can never negotiate with Taliban until and unless we kill the very way of life that we so much love. I hate to say it, its either us or them and thats a fact and people should warm upto this. And again i hate to say it, a quote from George Bush, “You are either with us or against us”


  • observer
    Oct 10, 2012 - 10:34AM


    “Similarly, the tactic of negotiating for peace is also a flawed one since we can’t give them what they want and they don’t want anything less than everything.”

    Doesn’t this also apply to Kashmir issue? so why are we trying to make peace with India? ;)

    No it does not.

    India, ideally would like the whole of Kashmir. But it may be willing to settle for the part it has and no infiltration.

    Similarly, Pakistan may want the whole of Kashmir, but in all probability will settle for the valley alone. Who wants the kaffirs of Ladakh and Jammu? In fact Gen Musharraf was happy with ‘demilitarised autonomous regions’.

    So you see, both parties are likely to settle for less. Ideal conditions for negotiation.


  • Caramelized_Onion
    Oct 10, 2012 - 10:41AM

    Oh dear, can a man not make a simple statement withouth it being distorted? Ok, PTI stance (from what I understand):

    ‘Negotiate with the tribals, there are almost a million tribals in the area who can take out the Taliban, let them take ownership of the problem and their land’.

    No one suggested negotiating with the Taliban (especially the TTP which are fake and hired taliban)


  • Oct 10, 2012 - 10:54AM

    But reality is dictated by consensus.
    And consensus is informed by the
    majority. And the majority declared
    Qadri the hero. So that is how he will
    be seen in Pakistan for most people
    and how our history books will
    remember him.

    Pakistan, the “democracy” where only the majority is right and has rights, regardless of facts or justice.


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Oct 10, 2012 - 11:10AM


    Kashmir is part of Pakistan not India

    If that were true, Pak wouldn’t have “donated” part of Kashmir to China. Only a piece of land can be gifted/given away not part of a country. Hope you get my “analogy”.


  • Hassan Qureshi
    Oct 10, 2012 - 11:58AM

    “That the Taliban are behaving this way in retaliation for America’s usage of those robotic drones.”

    Im afraid Sami the premise of your argument against PTI is flawed. Imran Khan has never said this. He however states that the tribals have become our enemy because they have been trapped in this war between us and the taliban. Since the taliban speak their language (that is jihad against an aggressor) therefore they have sided with them. What PTI seeks is to distinguish between the actual barbarians and those who are just fighting to save their land and families. By winning them over to our side we can easily defeat the small number of taliban barbarians. Plz get your facts right.


  • Ashail
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:09PM

    Brilliant article Sami! It’s hard to fight an ideology. Like Bertrand Russel said, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubts.”


  • Taimur Rahim
    Oct 10, 2012 - 12:13PM

    very well written!!


  • Oct 10, 2012 - 1:13PM

    When medicin does not work people start prayingRecommend

  • Sharjeel Jawaid
    Oct 10, 2012 - 1:35PM

    Every Pakistani should decided if they are for the brutes, or against them. As for myself, I am at war!


  • Kaizen
    Oct 10, 2012 - 2:12PM

    Absolutely right …..its sad to see that people not only blame and trash others for all their grieves but also don’t make any attempt to understand what is being said. Imran Khan’s stance has been clear since 2004 and that is you can’t bomb and kill innocent people because that helps you to kill few miscreants.


  • Peace
    Oct 10, 2012 - 2:52PM

    Ahhh another prey of brutal act, may God save little doll Malala.

    Wake up Pakistan its time to Do or Die, now Taliban are killing children, if you thinking that your kids are safe in big cities Air conditioned schools/ universities then you are WRONG. Malala is very brave girl who raised her voice for her true right of Education in the era of Talibans BUT this era has not ended. Do not let them ‘RULE’ our lives we have right to live, to get education and to become successful.

    Actually the day by day increasing inflation and gap between have and have not depressing people and letting Taliban to rule our poor and deprived ones. Please educate your children and plz govt. do something to stop Taliban from killing innocent people.


  • umair
    Oct 10, 2012 - 4:50PM

    This was a very good piece of analysis.But I have some disagreements.First of all when the writter says that Imran Khan will negotiate with talibans and offer them no drones he is wrong.Imran Khan stands for much more then drones.The ideology of taliban was here but what has and is helping this ideology gain more strength is the ongoing war. You cannot remove an ideology with use of weapons.We have not talked to talibans yet so how does the author analyse what will be the outcome and dynamics of negotiations.Lets just use negotiations just as an experiment.Who knows what might be the result.I mean the negotiations will at worse will result in the on going situation.


  • Humairuddin
    Oct 10, 2012 - 5:03PM

    Nice and eye-oppening piece of writing.


  • Safdar Jang
    Oct 10, 2012 - 5:35PM

    Brother, only if we dis-align ourselves from the west. All these issues will die. The only problem that Taliban have is that we are a friend of their enemy which by all facts is true.

    And i am sorry to say this about my own country but WE killed them with America. We helped America take down an elected government in Afghanistan without any proof of what they did. We helped America bomb Afghanistan to ashes. Then why are we complaining today when they are killing on our soil?

    It is their generosity to give reasons for killing every single individual on our soil. Even if they kill for no reason we, a dead Muslim community, have no reason to question them as we never questioned our government for their part in destroying Afghanistan.

    Apologies to the educated and liberals.


  • Salman Ahmed
    Oct 10, 2012 - 5:40PM

    Interesting and well written piece.

    Just one correction that you should make – as Caramalized_Onion indicated – PLEASE QUOTE THE PTI POLICY WITH AT LEAST AN ELEMENT OF ACCURACY.

    PTI does not suggest simple negotiations – there is a stepped approach.

    We are mega quick in taking headlines, distorting them and then using them to draw inferences.


  • Harish Puri
    Oct 10, 2012 - 5:43PM

    An excellent analysis, but very little anger directed at the Pak Army – the only force that has the capacity to tackle this menace and rid the country of these beasts. But for reasons best known to themselves alone, they appear incapable or unwilling (or both) to take on this onerous responsibility.Recommend

  • saleem
    Oct 10, 2012 - 6:05PM

    The only good taliban are the dead and buried taliban period. Lets have a clear vision, we dont need drones . Lets use everything we got to eliminate taliban . Everything ….


  • Deplex-84
    Oct 10, 2012 - 6:15PM

    I am not here to write a speech… just here to have my say that:

    People who say PTI supporters will be disappointed. Well guys seems like PPP, PMLN, JUI, ANP and MQM have satisfied you to an extent where you can sit back, relax in your luxury rooms and talk like that. Yes you are not disappointed, because you welcome corruption, inflation, lack of security, basic needs (flour, sugar, cng) and this is what ur current govt gave you abundantly.

    Mostly “Pakistani Talibaans” are linked up with organizations like “Lashkaray Jhanwi” “Jamaat ud Dawa” etc and all of them got established and working under Punjab govt’s hand over their heads. Your so called ideal PPP/ PMLN govt is the actual; IMPOTENT leadership that failed to provide you a Talibaan free society

    Imran Khan is not an alien to present an idea of dialogue with Talibaan, if you have your facts and figures correct on the table, Hillary Clinton stated peace talks with Talibaan too, because apparently all millitary operations and drones are not giving them the desired result.

    Talibaan don’t deserve a civilized dialogue (I AGREE) but on the other hand drones/ operations are bringing out more adverse results leaving even US with no other option than to go for a dialogue.

    Imran Khan’s basic motive was to win back the Tribal Leadership’s spirit of nationalism, because right after Waziristan / WANA operation even Army declared that its hard for us to identify Talibaan from among the natives, and they are working in collaboration. Now if you want to over come these Talibaans whether inbuilt or outsiders, you have to take Tribals in confidence, you can’t isolate/ humiliate or dis own them and then expect a positive result…!!!


  • smj
    Oct 10, 2012 - 6:18PM

    If our Army is not involved then what makes the attackers dissappear before the checkposts of every major street in KPK?


  • Aminullah Gandapur
    Oct 10, 2012 - 6:50PM

    Are you sure these were Talibans? Watch out for the timings of this attack and you would get to the crux of it. It followed on the heels of the Peace rally of Imran Khan. So why can’t it be an attempt to “create a breaking news” and Talk Show topic for the national and international media to over shadow anti-drone march in which even the American civil society participated.


  • Chopper
    Oct 10, 2012 - 6:56PM

    @gp65, regarding your other 2 points

    Pakistan army is already in an all out war with TTP, as much as a conventional army can be against an uncoventional force.

    The army’s job is indeed to protect its borders, like I said Kashmir is part of Pakistan so India has indeed encroached on Pakistans sovereignty by occupying its territory.


  • khan
    Oct 10, 2012 - 7:22PM

    PTI is not in power and if you go by analysis by people similar to this author, PTI can never be in power. they dont have support blah blah blah yet eveything turns into PTI bashing. Now I know what kind of sick people will try to take political advantage of eveything-even something as tragic as this attack on a little girl. I am amazed to see how the article has been dedicated to PTI and its evil policies even though none of thier policies have been implemented, they are not in a position to change anything as it stands yet his guys happliy writes aload of nonsense about them


  • Menon
    Oct 10, 2012 - 7:53PM

    This is one intelligent and smart little girl. What she will do to enrich this with his life, God only knows. She should nurtured in her pursuit, she is gift to man mind.

    It is time for Pakistan to realize that it cannot continue and prosper in the it is now. It is time to detain every cleric and organizations speaking against the unity of your nation and the Military should stand by the government and the society to get rid of these anti-national elements and gain indpendence from them and join the rest of the world and progress.

    Consider this as your second independance struggle. Every educated person in Pakistan knows that you cannot continue as is and get anywhere.

    Mahatma Gandhi Said Once:

    “What difference doe it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is brought under the name of totalatarianism, or the holy name of religion, liberty or democarcy”

    Like the man or not, it is time for the world to think about what he said. Which world you rather live? A question for every man, women, leaders and totalitarians in the world to think. No one is going to take anything with them.


  • Yasir Ahmed
    Oct 10, 2012 - 9:25PM

    GOVT farmed it just to take away Media Attention from Imran Khan’s peace march and to defame his ideology of having dialogue with Talibaan. It was killing that how come he and his party people came back alive and unhurt from that area,. Now tell me guys the girl got hit with what? POINT BLANK and she survied? And will survive will be walking back on her feet, come on tv and give HUGE INTERVIEWS in favor of govt, and how sweet and loving her BILAWAL brother is. This is politics my dear fellow country, everything is scripted.


  • Amina Waldenstrøm
    Oct 10, 2012 - 10:35PM

    It’s easier to analyze and criticise than to come with a solution isn’t it, Mr. Shah?


  • Bisharat Baloch
    Oct 11, 2012 - 12:12AM

    Nicely written, very methodical and well-organized. Arguments are very logically stated. Enjoyed reading the whole thing. Didn’t enjoy how it made me feel, because truth hurts and things look very dismal for Pakistan.


  • Jat
    Oct 11, 2012 - 12:46AM

    @sabi: “If GHQ decides a new policy,to crush taliban unconditionaly, I bet IK will abide by it without any shame.”

    Imran will also lead a peace march in support of the army action to one of the cantonments where he feels he will be safe and comfortable. The western border is too dangerous, the road too bumpy and nights are too dark.


  • Dt
    Oct 11, 2012 - 6:34AM

    well i guess negotiations is out of the question with those that want to see our constitution burnt to the ground, i think it’s time for the army to do their job in protecting our constitution.Recommend

  • Bisharat Baloch
    Oct 11, 2012 - 7:36AM

    @Yasir Ahmed:

    Now tell me guys the girl got hit
    with what? POINT BLANK and she
    survied? And will survive will be
    walking back on her feet, come on tv
    and give HUGE INTERVIEWS in favor of
    govt, and how sweet and loving her
    BILAWAL brother is. This is politics
    my dear fellow country, everything is

    Do you seriously think that they shot her POINT BLANK and in the head in such a way that the bullet would completely miss her brain and get embedded in her neck, because that’s the way they wanted it to happen and they wanted her to survive the attack so that she could later praise the PPP? Wow.

    For your information, the TTP already accepted responsibility for attacking her. If you now have a conspiracy theory that the government paid the TTP to shoot the girl because they wanted to ruin Imran Khan’s peace march, don’t you think they would have paid them to attack the peace march itself, as that would have been a much better way of showing their resentment.

    Please sir, think about what are saying. Many things might be a conspiracy theory, but I am sure even the best shooter in the world would not be able to shoot a girl in the head at point blank in such a way so that it is certain that she survives. She was just very lucky and had Allah watching over her.


  • anticorruption
    Oct 11, 2012 - 11:36AM


    “We can not eliminate them. We have to deal with the issue strategically and that would require a combination of de-radicalization, reduction of political space available to militants, better law enforcement, dialogue, and military option.”

    Very true. However, for the state to do any of this in a given part of the country , it needs to at least have a certain amount of presence there. So where the state has no writ and the Taliban are totally in control, there is no alternative except military action. Once the military goes in and restores the state’s control, then the new administration can start to implement the non-military dimensions of the strategy. And this is where Imran gets it totally wrong. Had the govt listened to him, Swat would still have been under Taliban control. Moreover, the manner in which he shifts the whole blame and focus on to the Americans is totally irresponsible and only confuses the public further.


  • Shehzad Shah
    Oct 11, 2012 - 1:25PM

    I will indulge in some pop psychology here since I have time to kill. If one makes a Venn Diagram of ‘formidable sportsmen’ & ‘formidable intellectuals’, I suspect the two will not intersect. This is in no way diminishes the worth of either, simply that the requirements of both roles render them mutually exclusive, or nearly so. On the other hand, while most politicians are not required to be, & in fact often are not intellectuals, a statesman of great worth would generally have substantial intellectual ability as well. A great sportsman is almost by definition not a thinker; in fact thinking too much is the best way to destroy any chance at sporting success. Ask any Olympian, & they will tell you that in seconds on the starting blocks before the shot is fired, their minds must be empty. Great sportsmen are intelligent, focused, even cunning, but not deep thinkers. Their ability develops more in the sub-conscious & seeps into their sinews, so the body of a fine athlete responds with the split-second reflexes required of them. A sportsman who is a deep thinker, will mostly likely fail. In fact there is a word for when players start thinking too much; its called choking.
    The point of this spiel, as you can tell, is that IK is not a thinker. He knows what he knows, & he believes in it with all the confidence (arrogance?) which is equally a hallmark of a sports star. Great commitment, tenacity & absolute self-belief. But not a mind built to discern subtleties. His is more accustomed to the field of sport, where rules are evident & inviolable & everyone can act only within them. Win or lose. Black or white. Not situations where rules are shifty things, there are no clear, or even right answers, complexity is the only clarity, & the outcome of even a successful strategy is ambiguous & plays out over an indeterminable number of years. In others words, the Bermuda triangle of trilateral relations amongst the US, Pakistan & Afghanistan. For IK, the US is the adversary here, the Taliban are the underdog team opposing them who deserve more our sympathy than punishment. Simple.


  • Oct 11, 2012 - 3:20PM

    It’s Shame full act .


  • hassan zia
    Oct 11, 2012 - 4:15PM

    sir three points were not made clear from PTI’s stance in this article:
    1) out of 10 lac armed tribal people only 20k or 30k are the ones who want their ideology to be implemented.
    2) if you disagree then read the history. between 1996 -2001 Taliban were in power in Afghanistan. if these tribals wanted their ideology to be implemented then our tribal areas also should had the talibans and there rules implemented. but that was not the case, hence strengthening my 1st point
    3) taliban in pakistan were only heard of after 2004 war was imposed in tribal belt , leaving 90% of them fighting in reaction.
    what PTI is saying: separate these ideologicals from the rest and isolate them , if then they do not negotiate or stop then it will be easier to get them by military operation (if required) wit the help of local tribals.
    ” military operation can be a part of a political solution , but only military operation is never the solution and can never end”
    a few seconds ago · Like


  • untitled
    Oct 11, 2012 - 5:48PM

    shouldn’t we feel uncomfortable bringing up daughters on this land where people shoot at 14 year old girls?Recommend

  • observer
    Oct 11, 2012 - 8:07PM


    shouldn’t we feel uncomfortable bringing up daughters on this land where people shoot at 14 year old girls?

    And also give away 4 year old girls to settle blood feuds.


  • Badu Ja
    Oct 11, 2012 - 9:47PM

    The mindset of the followers of JI and various factions of JUI and all other religious groups is the same as Taliban even if they have not received their education from a Madrassah. Changing the vision of these people is also important if not more than those of the madrassah graduates present and future.


  • Logic Europe
    Oct 11, 2012 - 10:05PM

    well that is the security chosen by leaders ofmpakistan before [email protected]:


  • Faraz
    Oct 12, 2012 - 9:50AM

    Dear writer,

    You have been sorely missed at this forum.
    Let me express my deep appreciation of your lucid writing and the most excellent manner in which this piece was crafted.
    As to the content of the piece, it is a piece to end all other pieces of this nature.


  • Measif
    Oct 12, 2012 - 2:05PM

    We’ve tried drones, we’ve tried a military solution. All it has resulted in is 8 years of war with the Taliban, increased militancy and militants, several thousands of lives lost and now a targeted attack on a 14 year old girl. The current strategy is not working. We need to try a different one. We have several examples of governments talking to militant organizations to bring about peace and we’ve seen it work. The Britsh and Irish govts talked to the IRA to bring an end to IRA’s barbaric tactics of bombings and shootings.The Spanish government talked to the ETA (Basque conflict). It ended several years of violent activity by ETA. The Thai govt is holding peace talks with Muslim militants. Even the US is now talking to the Taliban. When we’ve given everything else a chance, we must give talks a chance too. What other alternatives do we have?


  • Yasir Ahmed
    Oct 12, 2012 - 2:54PM

    @ B. Baloch

    Now your trying to emerge as the wise man of the dark. Govt would never expect Peace March to happen at first place, and once it occurred peacefully, govt knew that any mess would directly hit their own reputation for the coming election. So it was much prone to happen peacefully. Rest you can be one of those innocents who don’t understand political tactics, but even a poor taxi driver or doodh wala can understand this after what so ever PPP gifted us. They are extreme experts in diverting scenarios, the have been doing that since last 4.5 years… and they did it this time too. I am an army child and I know what taking a bullet means. And I know it much better than an ordinary person that what are the counter affects of firing a bullet in the head. So instead of teaching/ preaching me about how akalmand you are… please try to see both sides of the picture in the first place.


  • Midas
    Oct 12, 2012 - 6:40PM

    Very right, the problem is two prong; one is no one has the moral courage to stand up to the main issue – and live to tell the tale, and the second is the flawed sense of justifications. The religious parties now know that what they do, and really belive, is not acceptable to the world so they are changing their rhetoric to be more politically acceptable, hence they will reluctuntly condemn but never name Taliban in that condemnation, they have seen that they may have huge political gathering but winning seats in the parliament is still a far cry, hence they have now started getting stooges like IK to be their face and mouth piece. Unless Pakistan, as a nation, stands up to eradicate this menace, and not just wait for somone else to do it, this will become a way of life – we will have drawing-room discussions, articles, condemnations, TV shows and then turn the leaf and move on to live another day. If that is the case then very few days are left, Allah does not let such nations live like pharoas forever, especially when the atrocities are committed in His name and religion.


  • Bisharat Baloch
    Oct 12, 2012 - 11:22PM

    @Yasir Ahmed:
    You don’t make any sense. You said that this whole Malala episode is PPP trying to frame the TTP so that Imran Khan can feel ashamed and the girl survived because it was “scripted” and the government wanted her to survive so that she could later praise the PPP. I think your logic is flawed. First, TTP claimed responsibility themselves in a detailed letter that they sent out to the press. Please Google it because ET here is not approving my comments if I insert a link myself. Second, no one can “script” shooting a girl POINT BLANK in the head so that it is certain that she survives. You might have much experience in being shot but what you are saying here shows your own biases, incoherence, and ignorance. Recommend

  • Sapphire
    Oct 14, 2012 - 1:44AM

    These barbarians the Taliban most certainly do not represent Islam. If anything they have only served to ridicule it and project it in an extremely distorted light and I’m glad the writer of this article highlighted their version of Islam making it distinct from what Islam actually teaches.

    Where are the scholars and religious leaders of Islam with their study of the islamic sciences to combat their twisted and misrepresented version of the faith? The Prophet of Islam most certainly did not behave in this reprehensible manner and our scholars need to be more vocal in condemning their brutal actions.

    Targetting the weak and vulnerable members of society such as women and children based on rehashing Islam is not an act of faith resulting in pleasing God; if anything it manifests cowardice and ignorance which actually leads to the many sins they commit especially against women.

    Drone attacks are not an excuse for the Taliban consistently victimising women. Many people around the world including the West are against the use of drones. This dangerous element needs to be eradicated for the good of the world as well as for Islam.


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