The sickly smell of surrender

Published: February 9, 2013
The writer is editor of The Express Tribune Magazine

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.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (29)

  • John B
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:05AM

    “Out of all the forces working in Pakistan, they’re (TTP) the only ones who seem to have a clear agenda. The rest of us have surrendered without a fight.”

    Negotiate now with TTP and the rest of the PAK is theirs in next 10 years. TTP agenda is sharp and focused on one goal only and they will achieve it, if political parties play to their tunes.


  • Feb 9, 2013 - 1:07AM

    Let me tell you already what most likely your audience on ET is going to say…it is all IK’s fault…in fact he is so close to Taliban that they didn’t even offer him a position as a guarantor


  • muhammad farooq
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:17AM

    Most powerful force in the country is collaborating with terrorist TTP and the like for objectives not made public in complete disregard of loss of human lives and total violation of demoratic norms. Iqbal’s dream has been converted to nightmare. Thanks to warsiwalas and politicians greedy for power. Kudos for ZK for this brilliant exposition and calling a spade a spade.


  • Kanwal
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:18AM

    I agree military must take greater responsibility. but dear author, in this country we embrace the likes of killer of Salman Taseer. Its us the silent and complicit majority, specialluy the midle class that needs to wake up. the leaders are just a manifestation, military or civilian. besides, they have their own benefits to look forward to. is nt it obvious that a peaceful pakistan is not in their favor? so its the mentality of our people which badly needs to be changed. Before its too late. may be its already too late?


  • 3rdRockFromTheSun
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:30AM

    In this case, as well as many others (OBL, the prison break, attacks on army /airforce bases); the question is always – was it incompetence or collusion! More and more, it seems to be the latter! The army recently updated its doctrine of changing the prime enemy from India to the “extremists” – but the shift in doctrine hasn’t translated to tangible action on the ground.
    So who will bell the cat?


  • Bilal
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:53AM

    Wonderful article. Articulates everything I feel about the shameless surrender of the state in front of a terrorist group. And the dilly dallying of the Pakistani army for god knows what reasons.


  • kaalchakra
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:54AM

    Excuse me! Are we calling for Mr. Ehsan’s murder here?!!


  • Faqir Ipi
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:58AM

    Just a random taught on those who want

    US generals, in Afghan war have spent $20 (Rs 1700) billion on air-conditioning.

    The total outlay of Pak budget 2011-12 is $ 32 (Rs 2767) billion.

    Had the Americans ensured spending half of this money for Scholarship, and setting up Univeristyies/Colleges in Waziristan, there would have been no Taliban.

    There is not single university in whole FATA with 7 million population whereas there are 18 universities in Islamabad with 4 million population. There around 20, 13, 10 medical colleges in Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar and none in whole FATA.

    The only Cadet College Razmak has also been shifted to Nowshehra by the so called Pashtun Nationalist from Greater Mardan, Swabi and Peshawar.

    Naturally for the ease and comfort of kids of the corrupts, sold outs and UK/US agents living in Greater Mardan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Pindi, Lahore and Karachi.

    On the other hand, we were told that next military operation, next jet bombing, next road blocks, next IDPs wave would result in peace and then miracle jump-start of the Waziristan economy. It’s funny how the interests of those ruling (and ruining) us from Peshawar, Pindi, Islamabad and Lahore and their US/UK master are so often, so successfully, and so deliberately confused with the interests of the masses in Pakistan by incident like Malala, Swat Video, Polio Worker Killing etc


  • Mirza
    Feb 9, 2013 - 4:17AM

    ” how those who behead soldiers can be considered assets.”
    The loss of poor foot soldiers is no big deal for DHA and Army Incorporate.
    “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.”
    All these issue resulted in great benefits for the establishment. Whereas taking decisive action against TTP and other terrorists is not going to be beneficial for establishment. In fact if anything they would lose their assets that they have been protecting for more than a decade. The luxurious lifestyle of OBL and his harem in an army base may not be an exception.


  • Aarvey,india
    Feb 9, 2013 - 7:40AM

    Yes a simple answer toa simple question…yes.


  • Feb 9, 2013 - 10:58AM

    @Faqir Ipi:

    Why should the Americans give Universities to Pakistan?

    Pakistani Defence budget is greater than the economy of Afghanistan. Will you ask your Military to build schools, colleges, hospitals and other infrastructure in Afghanistan? This will definitely reduce extremism in Afghanistan, what do you say?


  • Alan
    Feb 9, 2013 - 11:51AM

    Goes to show that people are having tough time fighting fascism because for the longest time the state believed and nurtured the same fascist beliefs. It is hard to convert heroes of yesterday to enemies of tomorrow.


  • BlackJack
    Feb 9, 2013 - 12:51PM

    As I see it, most of the confusion stems from a basic question – what do you have to offer the TTP that they will lay down arms? A Sufi Mohammed type Sharia deal is hardly going to work given knowledge (on both sides) of precedents. So maybe a legitimate handover – you guys rule North Waziristan and spare us? I doubt whether that would inspire much confidence in the great Pak army, and will be the beginning of the end. The alternative is to launch an all out campaign with a significantly higher collateral damage than the last 10 years of drone strikes put together, and the danger of rebellion in the ranks from being asked to attack pious muslims. Both choices are fraught with risk, so it is preferable to go the Nero way, and continue fiddling away.


  • Ozymandias
    Feb 9, 2013 - 2:04PM

    His execution. Yes.


  • Faqir Ipi
    Feb 9, 2013 - 4:10PM

    @ Brute Force

    I know American will only bomb us and never ever make any thing good for masses.

    No offense just some more truth to the tale on defense budget.

    192 member states of the United Nations collectively spend some $1.5 trillion on defense of which $750 billion is the military budget of the United States. Pakistan, with a defense budget of five billion dollars or 0.66 percent of the American defense spending, has neither the resources nor the technology to stop the US from entering or exiting its airspace.

    ISI’s ‘double dealing & Haqqani Network : Pakistan the proverbial Fall guy for US Generals Failures in Af-Pak.

    Dilemmas of conscience never bother US policymakers. They are not choosy when it comes to finding reasons for waging war.

    Nato bombing on Libya : The ranting of an unhinged dictator.
    Iraq War : A vial containing a concoction of bogus chemicals
    Vietnam War : False flag incident in the Gulf of Tonkin

    US is directly responsible for war crimes and Waziristan Genocide and while I know there is no court of justice that is going to have the gut to try US War criminals and their puppets here on earth, but I carry a faith stronger than the mountains which tells me that justice will catch up with these war criminals, either here or in the Hereafter.

    We have no hope of a brighter life. Instead, we have darkness that now engulfs us from all sides. I do not think we will ever be able to make listen to us. Plz remember: there is a verdict of history that awaits all evil empires like US who rise to power and that verdict has already been passed against US.


  • Feroz
    Feb 9, 2013 - 4:41PM

    The mighty Pakistani Military has used proxies effectively to not only fight asymetric battles against those it considers enemies outside the country but also within it. The elimination of awkward political figures, journalists, lawyers etc have all been credited to the Taliban of course. The nonsense about there being no political consensus is for public consumption, Parliament has rubber stamped every demand from the Military till date, the same one that started every war with the neighbor without Parliamentary approval and lost it too. They are the saviours saving the nation from myriad ghosts and devils that have no other mission but to target and destroy Pakistan. Also the same force showed heroism and bravery in butchering three million unarmed citizens in a single year, a record unlikely to be surpassed ever.
    Where are the medals ?


  • Jat
    Feb 9, 2013 - 6:31PM

    Pakistanis listen to the sane voices of your own people, like the author, Kanwal, Bilal and Mirza.


  • Feb 9, 2013 - 6:39PM

    Action against TTP has been planned in such great secrecy that even the planners have not been informed anything about it.


  • Foolitics
    Feb 9, 2013 - 8:16PM

    @Falcon: your idol IK is becoming more irrelevant by the day. So much for all that drama.


  • John B
    Feb 9, 2013 - 8:53PM

    @Faqir Ipi:
    Since 1948 the US tax payers are bailing out PAK in every aspects of life. PAK survived as a nation because of US tax payers. That is a fact. Next time when you irrigate a field think how it all happened.


  • polwala
    Feb 9, 2013 - 11:32PM

    Since NS has called for talks with TALIBAN, loud and clear and urgently, it is not only the men in khaki to blame. The whole set up is smelly. This surrender might be a small step to buy small temporary peace, the big surrender will happen for the highest stakes. Here the Americans are not helping the taliban, Pakistan is.


  • Feb 9, 2013 - 11:53PM

    @John B:
    “@Faqir Ipi:
    Since 1948 the US tax payers are bailing out PAK in every aspects of life. PAK survived as a nation because of US tax payers. That is a fact. Next time when you irrigate a field think how it all happened.”

    What is the difference between aid, loan, grant, help(calamities) qarz e hassanah etc? Why are “aid receiving” countries sending shiploads of Dollars back to “aid-givers” as loan-servicing?

    Who is bailing out whom?


  • Parvez
    Feb 9, 2013 - 11:53PM

    Again a nice piece on the subject. One thing is clear and that is the credibility of our security establishment is sinking daily.


  • Faqir Ipi
    Feb 10, 2013 - 11:49AM

    @John B

    The myth US keeping Pakistan alive economically

    US war for Terror has cost Pakistan more than $60 billion. The debt-to-GDP ratio stands at almost 60 per cent. Today Pakistan external debt and liabilities are a staggering $58.8 billion. Since 9/11 Pakistan has received $18 billion in aid. $7.35 billion has gone to the Coalition Support Fund as reimbursement for our soldiers acting as cannon fodder. Major chunk goes back to the US in terms of military sales, consultancy and intermediary costs.

    According to Dr Farukh Saleem, reknown Pakistani scholar/writer, 92% of the USAID ends up in the hands of US based and US run NGOs which are wasting the aid and filling their own pockets.

    USAID and Foreign aid is all about keeping the GOR trimmed to the last flower for the bureaucracy, ensuring politicians maintain the power to give jobs as if they grow in the mango fields of Southern Punjab, and allowing generals to approve cantonment budgets as if they were communes in Switzerland.

    Pashtuns and Pakistanis, made up of real people (not just data points on market research firm survey maps) are convinced, based largely on a pile of dead bodies that have yet to be counted, named, indicted, or convicted, that America is not a true friend of the Pashtun, Pakistan and Muslims.


  • observer
    Feb 10, 2013 - 3:35PM


    Excuse me! Are we calling for Mr. Ehsan’s murder here?!!

    No, just his Martyrdom. That should be acceptable.


  • Musthaq Ahmed
    Feb 13, 2013 - 9:32PM

    @Faqir Ipi:
    I am happy that you remember Vietnam. But then it was a fight between two nations championing two advanced ideologies of modern world. Here in the case of Libya/Yemen/Pakistan it is a modern country kicking the dust out of backward societies in sheer boredom of world domination for a while.


  • salmanzq
    Feb 14, 2013 - 3:08PM

    Brave write up!


  • Rex Minor
    Feb 15, 2013 - 4:31AM

    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


  • mazharuddin
    Feb 16, 2013 - 9:52PM

    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.


More in Opinion