Fool me twice

Published: February 18, 2013
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The writer hosts a show called “Capital Circuit” for News One and tweets @FarrukhKPitafi

The writer hosts a show called “Capital Circuit” for News One and tweets @FarrukhKPitafi

Bashir Bilour’s death was a wake-up call for the nation. A leader, who reached out to terror victims at great personal risk, had finally succumbed to a terrorist attack. When the following day, the Awami National Party (ANP) announced that it intended to call an all parties conference (APC), simpletons like me thought that finally someone was ready to take political ownership of a war against a menace that has destroyed our social fabric. But alas, that was not to be. Now that the APC has concluded, we know that our political class continues to be consciously ambiguous on the matter and is ready to capitulate in a heartbeat.

The ANP cannot be blamed in this. It has endured the most grievous injuries in this prolonged fight. The attitude of the religious-political parties is understandable, too, even if not laudable. In this particular case, they identify themselves with the terrorists rather than the people and state of Pakistan. However, the apathy of political parties, primarily based in Punjab and, of course, the ruling PPP is saddening. They could have weighed in to build consensus against the terrorists. But in an election year, no one is ready to tell the truth to a nation trapped between faith and faithless barbaric acts of terrorists.

Perhaps, there is a demographic dimension to this attitude. The province least affected by the crimes of the terrorists is the least sensitised, too. But that does not reduce the gravity of the peril. The fact is that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi have become playgrounds of the terrorists. If a fight is still going on, it is to keep them away from the most populous province. If the people and the political parties of the province do not care, why would anybody else?

A nation in perpetual denial and fatigued by a prolonged war has bonded with the terrorists to an extent that it wants to forget its wounds and embrace the assailant. Reason? The terrorists, who go by the name of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), have reluctantly, conditionally, shown their readiness to talk. They needed assurance from three important right-leaning political figures and will not be disappointed. The TTP has always employed such tactics to buy more time and to regroup. Our strategy, meanwhile, has been capitulation, some reluctant fight and capitulation again.

The case being built in favour of dialogue is interesting. They say that the US brought this fight to the region and now it is planning to pull out. If it can hold talks with the Taliban, why can’t we? But sir, have you forgotten? You had earlier said that the Pakistani Taliban had nothing to do with the Afghan franchise. Have they suddenly become ‘Mujahideen-e-Islam’ again?

The US-led forces are leaving the region because they do not belong here. We do not have such luxury. The Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban and other banned outfits, all have been united by the doctrinal perversions of al Qaeda. In fact, in the aftermath of the US withdrawal, the fear is that Afghanistan will add strategic depth to al Qaeda’s presence in the region and make Pakistan its constant target. Our simple-minded pursuit of surrender has convinced us that perhaps, a Swat-like strategy will work this time, too. Alas, the enemy has fooled us again. If our policymakers, generals, intelligence community and intelligentsia are so convinced of the importance of talks, they should give it a try. But they should also be ready to brace for the impact of this folly and prepare a plan ‘B’ as well.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • MSS
    Feb 19, 2013 - 1:20AM

    How can so many be fooled by so few for so long?
    That in a nutshell is what taliban have achieved. They have divided the masses, the army and the political class. It seems bizarre that seemingly intelligent people cannot see beyond their noses in this respect.

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  • John B
    Feb 19, 2013 - 2:27AM

    PAK plan A is SWAT negotiations.

    Plan B is Zia ul Haq setup ;

    plan C is Lal Masjid operation.

    Since Plan C is abandoned, there are only choices A and B left. Choice A was tried and got fooled. Choice B was tried and went on well, according to many in PAK for 10 years and that is what TTP is asking again, but in violent manner.

    Choice D is Nigerian model which is not working well also.

    Choice E, let the present situation continue but with carrots and keep it under check as long as possible.

    Currently Choice E is the agreed solutions among political parties and the military, so PAK should prepare itself.

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Feb 19, 2013 - 2:59AM

    @MSS: ” … How can so many be fooled by so few for so long? … “

    I think most Pakistanis are aware of the contradictions of their narrative. It sometimes make sense to just follow along. A psychiatrist can explain better.

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  • Khan Bhai
    Feb 19, 2013 - 4:19AM

    Mark my words: Once the Americans leave, TTP will use Afghanistan to launch attacks in Pakistan and Afghan Intelligence agencies will be all too happy to oblige. Right now, TTP is cornered so its the best time to crush them.

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  • Usman
    Feb 19, 2013 - 6:59AM

    Quite like our simple minded need to keep electing the same parties over and over.

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  • RAW is WAR
    Feb 19, 2013 - 7:56AM

    In Pakistan’s case- fool me a million times.

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  • Feroz
    Feb 19, 2013 - 8:21AM

    Politicians will never act until their economic well being is under threat of destruction. If the Taliban had announced that they would confiscate the riches of the wealthy and redistribute them among the poor, there would have been total consensus inside and outside Parliament in going after them. The Establishment is focused not really in solving any problems but in making money. This is the reason they are in a hurry to make a deal with TTP and quickly get back to money making ways. I was under the mistaken impression that God had given everyone Brains so they could use them, sadly many have not learnt how to use this god given gift.

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  • Adil
    Feb 19, 2013 - 10:21AM

    Brilliant analysis. Clear, concise and to the point, Kudos F. K. Pitafi.

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  • gp65
    Feb 19, 2013 - 10:56AM

    “Fool me twice”

    The first time military came to power, Bangladesh separated, yet army was back in saddle in 6 years. The second time, Pakistan got thrown into a war of choice and inherited a drug and kalashnikov culture, yet people distributed sweets when Musharraf of Kargill fame came to power. He took Pakistan into the WoT and also created the present mess in Balochistan.

    The ground is being prepared once more for a government of technocrats.

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  • MSS
    Feb 19, 2013 - 1:13PM

    @gp65
    The first time military came to power in the early 1950s, democracy separated unless of course one sees Yahya’s rule as a continuation of FM Ayub. Khan.

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  • gp65
    Feb 19, 2013 - 2:14PM

    @MSS: “@gp65
    The first time military came to power in the early 1950s, democracy separated unless of course one sees Yahya’s rule as a continuation of FM Ayub. Khan.”

    I did see Yahya as a continuation of Ayub, else there is yet one more example with Ayub responsible for 1965 and Yahya for 1971.

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  • observer
    Feb 19, 2013 - 3:47PM

    The province least affected by the crimes of the terrorists is the least sensitised, too. But that does not reduce the gravity of the peril. The fact is that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi have become playgrounds of the terrorists. If a fight is still going on, it is to keep them away from the most populous province.

    Looks like Jihad against the Hindus in Kashmir has transformed into Jihad against all minorities in Pakistan.
    And instead of India being bled through a ‘thousand cuts’ it is KP, GB,Balochistan and Sindh receiving the same treatment.

    The question is- Who is pulling the strings?

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  • John B
    Feb 19, 2013 - 5:59PM

    @observer: “who is pulling the string”

    Who else; there is a parallel structure and that is the worrisome of all. That is why no one is talking about the obvious questions. Who and how.

    All mercenaries and ideologues also have the basic necessities of live, and they need steady source of money and all operations require finance and supply and organization and planing.

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  • Roni
    Feb 19, 2013 - 11:33PM

    A pragmatic Op Ed. My previous comments were not included. Just want to say thank you for being honest and upfront please keep it up.

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