The sickly smell of surrender

Out of all the forces working in Pakistan, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan are only ones who seem to have clear agenda.


Zarrar Khuhro February 08, 2013
The writer is editor of The Express Tribune Magazine [email protected]

On April 21, 1996, Chechen separatist leader Dzokhar Dudayez was killed by missiles fired from a Russian aircraft. The missiles had locked onto signals from his satellite phone and homed in on his location.

In June 2006, a US airstrike was carried out on a house in which Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was staying. His location was determined by human intelligence, as well as by tracking his cell phone and those of his known associates. In November last year, Mullah Nazir was killed in a drone strike, his coordinates apparently tracked by a chip installed in a digital Quran gifted to him.

On February 5, 2013, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan spoke via telephone on Mehr Bokhari’s show on Dawn News. By the time, Bokhari signed off with “thank you very much for speaking with us, Mr Ehsan”, he had been on air for several minutes. I’m still waiting for a drone, or an artillery barrage, or an F-16, or even a carefully thrown rock to rid us of his odious presence. Odds are I’ll be waiting a long time.

I don’t expect any better from Bokhari, who has made a career out of pandering to radical conservatives. Ehsan isn’t Salmaan Taseer after all. I don’t expect morality-obsessed Pemra to take notice of her allowing the representative of a banned organisation a prime time slot; Ehsan wasn’t swaying to a Bollywood tune after all.

But I do expect the leaders of a country, the citizens of which have been slaughtered by the said organisation, to take note, and take action.

The greater burden must fall on the military, which bears the historic responsibility of having supported such groups and creating the conditions that allow them to thrive. It is incomprehensible that an army that has been repeatedly attacked by the TTP is seemingly incapable of taking decisive action against its leadership. Some will argue that the TTP are still considered ‘assets’, but it is beyond my admittedly limited intellect as to how those who behead soldiers can be considered assets. Being Machiavellian is one thing, but this is just myopic. The military says it wants consensus among the civilians, which on paper, sounds all fine and dandy. But this is a country in which consensus was not sought when destabilising and toppling elected governments. Nor is this consensus sought when launching operations in Balochistan. Is the Baloch Liberation Army more banned than the TTP when it comes to both airtime and attacks?

For the civilians, consensus is also a fig leaf. The buck of responsibility is passed onto parliament time and again, in the knowledge that no one is willing to take ownership of tackling Pakistan’s greatest existential threat. Leadership does not mean that you have a referendum every time an important issue has to be decided. It means that you have to lead, regardless of the fallout.

Barring the Swat operations, neither the military nor the civilians, have even attempted to mould public opinion in favour of acting against the Taliban. The propaganda campaign that was unleashed in the wake of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, the Memogate affair and the Salala attack is nowhere to be seen when it comes to building a consensus on taking on the murderers. When it comes to the government, it is clear that it does not want to spend any of its dwindling political capital for this cause, no matter how important it may be. The fate of the brave Bashir Bilour is there for all to see, after all.

Worse still, you have parties actually providing ideological space to the Taliban. Those named by the TTP as possible guarantors have dodged the bullet, not by contemptuously rejecting the offer but rather by pointing at the government’s ‘lack of credibility’ and begging out of the job. The implication, of course, is that the TTP are perfectly credible. And why not? Out of all the forces working in Pakistan, they’re the only ones who seem to have a clear agenda. The rest of us have surrendered without a fight.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2013.

COMMENTS (29)

mazharuddin | 8 years ago | Reply

Unfortunately US adopted unjust policy by helping Israel to wage war against Arabs in 1967 and further it helped Israel to continue its occupation over Palestine. Further it condemned Palestinians fight for independence which is till yet continued. Secondly there was need to bring Usama Ben Landen to trial inorder to prove his involvement as it might be a conspiracy the attacks on twin towers etc. but US did not do so while Mullah Umar has offered his trial on the basis of justice to that US did not agree. US preferred attacking Afghanistan. All such caused huge loss of human lives in Afghanistan. Further US failed to control the borders of Afghanistan and forced Pakistan to indirectly involve in war. Such situation proved fatal for Pakistan too. Further US spy agency seems involved in covert actions against Pakistan too due to its suspicion that Pakistan helping Taliban. Now Pakistan is facing suicidal attacks in the name of taliban, sectarian killing etc. while this was not so in Pakistan prior to US entering in Afghanistan and prior Pakistan's involvement in Afghan war and most probably Pakistan was forced to be involved in Afghan war. It is the need of time to adopt honest and just policy and settle core issues. No Muslim can kill innocent people. These Taliban seems non Muslims and the agents of foreign spy agencies. The name Taliban is being used by foreign spy agents that also involved against Pakistan army to weaken its defense. They are no Afghan and no Pakistan Taliban but foreign Taliban who are killing human beings. Secondly Afghanistan and Pakistan should throw beggars bowl, do not depend on foreign alms or aid. Both countries have vast resources and that need to have peace in both countries. Not only peace but justice and honesty is prime. Further people seem fade up with western justice system, it is complicated, very difficult to get justice through western justice system that is why people like Islamic laws. West should make its laws in accordance to justice. West has double standards, its foreign policy is biased, this is not honesty and a hurdle in world peace.

Rex Minor | 8 years ago | Reply

Mr Khurro is a jolly fellow, atleast in the given portrait, writes well his daring opinion calling publicly for extra judicial action but does not convey the impression of understang the wants of people nor the consequences of what he writes. In any case he is qualified to be imbeded with the military in their operations against the Taliban resistance whatever this means. he reminds me of the Roman empire for whose entertainments the gladiators were brought in the arena for combat to death for one or both.

This was the well organised culture of the Romans until such time when the slave gladiators rebelled and in a short period the Roman legions were defeated and decimated by Hermann, Arminius the commander of the Germanic tribes. We all know how the Roman might ended its power while its famous legions were stil in combat role in Spain and other european lands.

The commander of the Yankee armada dare not be seen during daylight in Afghanistan and his first sentence in the State of Union speach was the announcement of bringing back his warriors home, while the senators applauded replicating the Roman Empire scenario.

Given these circumstances, the author's thinking is framed . Peace is what the people of Pkistan desire and the people of the world wish. Pakistan leaders should appease which is a better choice than the defeat and surrender.

Rex Minor

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