Pakistan’s vulnerability to terrorism

Published: December 30, 2012
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The policy of ‘fielding’ these non-state actors against the foreign policy initiative at lessening tensions in the region is riddled with bad faith. PHOTO: FILE

The policy of ‘fielding’ these non-state actors against the foreign policy initiative at lessening tensions in the region is riddled with bad faith. PHOTO: FILE

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Amir Haider Hoti says Pakistan should undertake “do-or-die” action against terrorists who “want to destroy our state and society” from their sanctuaries inside the country. His words challenge the state of Pakistan:

“We are on the defensive in our streets and alleys, and they (terrorists) are at ease in their sanctuaries. We should evolve a national consensus on a comprehensive strategy for defeating terrorist outfits. We appeal to all political parties to take a clear stand on this issue (terrorism). If the experience of the recent past is anything to go by, terrorists will not forgive any political or religious party, even those who have literally acted as supporters of terrorists and apologists. It will be an exercise in futility to appease terrorists”.

Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan has tried to rationalise the anti-drone policy his party was compelled to back, to be inside the national consensus against America, built inside parliament in Islamabad: he opposes the drones — because they violate the sovereignty of the state — at the same time as he opposes the continuation of Taliban sanctuaries in the ‘ungoverned spaces’ of the country. The fact is that the US is retreating on the drones and may ultimately face internal American objection to them, while the Taliban flourish not only in their sanctuaries in the Tribal Areas but also in big cities inside the ‘governed spaces’.

Pakistan does not have a credible policy on the Taliban. Its approach is riddled with contradictions. The Pakistan Army, which ‘guides’ the foreign policy enclave in Islamabad, says it is not ready to challenge the sanctuaries. The world — including the 42 states that sent their troops to Afghanistan under Chapter Seven of the UN resolution — wants to help Pakistan in its confrontation with terror. But the strategy evolving in Pakistan is more focused on the situation inside Afghanistan where India is seen as a security challenge amid still-unproved allegations that the Baloch insurgency is orchestrated by New Delhi. Meanwhile, terror has moulded the attitude of the political parties who should have persuaded the army against its dangerously isolationist mindset: they want to make concessions to an entity that is actually planning a ‘revolutionary’ takeover of a nuclear-armed state.

The ANP is targeted because it contests Pakhtun nationalism with the predominantly Pakhtun Taliban on the basis of Pakhtunwali. The Swat trauma proved to the Pakhtun nation that terror can tame the tribal spirit and that the pain of seeing their sons killed can persuade the people to obey all kinds of commands. The terrorists use a policy of positive discrimination to command the direction of politics in Pakistan: they will not target those who favour ‘talks’ rather than ‘action’ vis-à-vis Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Their latest message clearly exempts parties that are friendly to the Taliban on the basis of the logic that terror is emanating from a reaction to the American presence in the region and that being anti-American will appease the terrorists.

The Taliban are not alone in their sanctuaries. Their support among the erstwhile ‘non-state actors’ trained by the state of Pakistan, in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, as instruments of foreign policy, riding on asymmetrical warfare is deep seated and growing. The so-called Punjabi Taliban are terror’s foot soldiers, produced by our madrassa network in support of privatisation of war on the basis of their doctrine of jihad. The policy of ‘fielding’ these non-state actors against the foreign policy initiative at lessening tensions in the region is riddled with bad faith.

The ANP’s cry from the heart will resound in 2013 when things get worse for Pakistan. But Pakistan’s isolationism — concealed behind rabid anti-Americanism — will not allow other political parties to rally around the ANP and confront the most palpable threat to the existence of the country. The Pakistan Army can take on the Taliban but it will need international help. The capacity of the state to cope with terror is at its lowest ebb.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Asif Ali khan
    Dec 30, 2012 - 12:35AM

    This is very unfortunate that Pakistan at this critical period don’t have a real leader.Pakistan is facing very serious challenges but the rulers & political leadership have non serious attitude.Common & poor citizens have so much daily life problems like security of life& property,electricity,CNG & gas loadshedding. They don’t care or think of most serious challenges of terrorism,economical conditions & corruption in country which have eaten up the foundations of Pakistan like termites.TI & NAB have reported 7 to 10 billion corruption per day.our big institutions have been totally corrupted.2013 elections will be 100 percent a big money game.No single party will get the magority neither in hie provinces nor at Federal level.The comming 5 years will be more worst than the present 5 years tenure.There will be more loot & plunder as the alliance govts is 100 based on corruption in Pakistan.

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  • Izhar Khan
    Dec 30, 2012 - 1:42PM

    My grandfather was a colleague and companion of Bacha Khan. My family still remains aligned to ANP. It hurts me to see the new face of ANP.

    I just came back to USA after a two months long holiday in Peshawar.

    The word on the streets and in the villages is that the ANP government has been way too busy making moolah and in the process have ignored the radical mullah. There is little to gainsay that Hoti and his cabinet have plundered and looted the provincial exchequer beyond belief. TI had already pointed to Hot’s government as being the most corrupt in the country.

    Peshawar, being the capital, by default is the only proper urban town of any note in the entire province but in reality it resembles a shambolic and decrepit border town.

    The roads are broken, traffic manic, the walls crumbling and chalked with adverts and slogans, corners piled up with rubbish and the city littered with checkpoints. Drug trade is endemic and young drug users on the rise. Police exists in name and the hospital stretched.

    The police loses a SP/DSP and SHOs each month. Peshawar has already lost its CCPO and witnessed the slaying of the IG FC.

    The only proper bookshop in Peshawar closed a few years ago and the only four star hotel that was bombed a few years back now operates as a shadow of what it used to be.

    If this is the story of Peshawar, the capital, I leave you to wonder how the rest of the province looks like.

    This month, the airport in Peshawar was bombed, female polio workers were killed, levies were abducted and beheaded and a cabinet minister killed. IEDs routinely go off around Peshawar killing their intended targets.

    Where is the writ of the government? Where is governance? Where is the police? Why hasn’t the ANP government asked for the assistance of the FC or Army to restore law and order?

    About time, ANP and other political parties stop sloganeering for political mileage?

    Just protesting loud, is not enough. It never was and is prepared to walk out of the coalition to press an operation in North Waziristan. That would affect the moolah.

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  • Somnath Mukhopadhyay
    Dec 30, 2012 - 5:33PM

    Pakistan requires to develop a credible policy on militancy.

    Pakistan needs to decide whether or not its policy of nurturing militants for activities against other countries has been helpful and productive, and whether these terrorists (one can call them by other names such as jihadis or freedom-fighters or militants) are helping the internal and external interests of Pakistan.

    This is an introspective decision that requires to be taken by the people of Pakistan.

    One can see how the Indians are deeply introspecting about the ills within Indian society at this point in time, and this is good, although it might take India 50 years to gain the status of free country when it comes to womens’ rights. Eventually, the young women of India will decide whether or not India is a free country.

    The ordinary people of Pakistan will require to drive a similar grassroots movement and, although sacrifices will have to be made (as is happening in India today), eventual benefit will come from this process.

    The Indians are advantaged by the fact that the Indian Constitution grants all citizens freedom from the oppression of any religion or social order, and so they can stand up for themselves. Imagine how disadvantaged they would be if India had a Hindu constitution! The rulebooks of traditional Hinduism would have been used to flog the Indian woman, right, left and centre, and ‘keep her in her place’!

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  • cautious
    Dec 30, 2012 - 6:30PM

    Your anti American bias is so profound that you would rather try and be friends with an enemy of the USA even if that enemy considers you an enemy — pathetic. Time to wake up and smell the roses.

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  • F
    Dec 30, 2012 - 10:27PM

    Why do you need help from outsiders to solve your own issues?
    Why do you bite the hand of the International (US specially) community when that help is given to you?
    Why do you need to “proove” Indian involvement in Baluchistan and Afghanistan before you fight the monster of terror that you created?
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