Cleverness in cowardice?

Published: September 21, 2013
The writer is Director News, Express News. He tweets @fahdhusain

The writer is Director News, Express News. He tweets @fahdhusain

How much talking about the talks for talks is enough before such talk gets reduced to mere talking points for talking heads?

We are in the process of finding out — to our detriment, if I may add. Talk about talks permeated the election atmosphere and spilled over into the post-election arena. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan threatened to unleash a national security policy, replete with the hows, whys and whens of combating the terror network. The threat — so far — remains unrealised. Premier Nawaz Sharif talked the talk, but never walked it. PTI supremo Imran muttered ‘I told-you-so’s’. And kept parroting his jaded line about how our misled brothers — the throat-slitters — should be returned to our loving embrace. The maulanas nodded in agreement.

Thus was born the craven APC resolution.

A few high-profile assassinations later, this piece of paper is bleeding the resolve it never had. The talking heads of the APC, meanwhile, are whistling in the air, or making inane statements which all point to a very obvious, and a very disturbing conclusion: The APC armchair appeasers have no clue what to do next.

Our turn to say ‘We told you so?’

But wait. Is there a sliver of cleverness in this cowardice? Is there a remote possibility that the government — and the Brass — are giving enough rope to the TTP to hang itself with? If so, is this the unsaid core of the elusive national security policy which appears to be here, there and nowhere?

The logic goes something like this: Rope in the TTP apologists, like the PTI, JUI, JI, etc. by promising a sincere dialogue with the terrorists. Then try and initiate some form of a negotiation process, knowing well that the effort will be stillborn. Once failure to talk ensues — a la Swat — and TTP shows its true colours, public opinion will swing towards a hardline position. The TTP apologists will be forced into a corner, and the nation will be ready for a bare-knuckled fight with the throat-slitters.

Sounds doable? Well, depends on whether we can believe the PML-N government to be so savvy and clear-eyed. Nawaz Sharif is not as categorical in his position on the TTP as say, the ANP or the MQM, but neither is he a blinkered apologist like Imran Khan, Maulana Fazlur Rehman or Munawaar Hassan of the Jamaat-e-Islami. Yes, he has a conservative constituency to protect, and yes he’s not prone to taking on the TTP publically, but those close to him say that he holds a nuanced position, perhaps, even a realistic one. In other words, he’s thinking in shades of gray.

Those close to him will clearly say this. After all, they are in the business of manufacturing a refurbished image for him; an image which centres around a pensive, deep thinking, grounded and much-chastened politician who has just returned from the wilderness of the opposition.

In this state of mind, were he to go to an airline counter, he would be prone to say: “Can you also check in my emotional baggage”.

That being so, he also realises the army high command is clearer in its thinking than he is. But the generals are going along, talking the talk but ready to walk the walk. We just lost a two-star general at the hands of the throat-slitters. The rope just got that much longer. Even the TTP apologists squirmed and whelped.

What then happens to the charade of talks, if it is indeed a charade? How long will the government grovel in front of the throat-slitters while burying brave sons and daughters? How long will the apologist tail wag the state dog?

Even if Nawaz Sharif is the man with the plan, the arrival on the scene, of a new joker in the pack — Javed Ebrahim Piracha — and the ensuing tragedy of errors, has compounded the situation.

For now, talking heads reign supreme. And the Brass bristles.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • aaaaa
    Sep 21, 2013 - 11:21PM

    the brass which gave birth to these people is bristling you mean?


  • Parvez
    Sep 22, 2013 - 2:22AM

    The long arm from across the waters that feeds and nurtures these criminals also feeds and nurtures those who are supposed to wipe out these criminals……… now we have a problem ??


  • unbelievable
    Sep 22, 2013 - 2:51AM

    Interesting article which like most Pakistani articles studiously avoids the obvious. The Civilian govt doesn’t control the military, the Civilian govt has not had a single discussion with the TTP or any other Taliban organization, and the Civilian govt has no say whether Pakistan is going to hammer the Taliban or surrender.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Sep 22, 2013 - 7:26AM

    There will be fake negotiations and there will be fake ction against throat slitters. Taliban, right wing parties, media and army want to wait till 2014 when foreign forces leave Afghanistan and Taliban re-oocupy it. A military action will jeopardise whole strategy and those who have saved their strategic assets so long will not let it happen. Historically, Taliban, right wing parties, right wing media and top brass are players of a same team. Some incidents of mistrust do happen but goals are clear. Those who demand such military action live in fools paradise.


  • Truthful Mole
    Sep 22, 2013 - 9:00AM

    Thanks for the clarity, you say it well. However, you haven’t said anything about popular public opinion,especially the PML-N vote bank, that is comprised of extremist ( not in the form of terrorist) right-wing Pakistanis who will not budge from their fundamental views. Your simplistic stance that the ‘ nation,’ as one, will accept an attack on the terrorist element in Pakistan is lackadaisical and weak. A nuanced explanation is awaited.


  • ahmed41
    Sep 22, 2013 - 10:13AM

    How does anyone know that ” the long rope ” given to them , will achieve the result ?

    The opposite may also happen.


  • observer
    Sep 22, 2013 - 10:47AM

    For now, talking heads reign supreme. And the Brass bristles.

    Here is another take on the Talks and the Brass issue.

    The real battle that has to be fought is among the boys themselves. The ones who get it, who understand the problem, exist. But so do the other kind, the ones who’ve drunk the koolaid of jihad and are drawn from a society that has lurched to the right.
    And because one side is bold and insistent and the other timid and hesitant, we’re left with the strangest of juggling acts before us: talk to some, whack others.


  • A Peshawary
    Sep 22, 2013 - 10:48AM

    There are talks every; the opinion, blogs, letter to editors, talk & comedy shows and drawing room and social gathering gossips! everybody is talking; so why not the politicians may repeat their version for public consumption. They are not bothered if it leads the general masses to no where. However, The clever ones who don’t talk and deliver, whether it Generals, the successful businessmen & politicians, TTP (including Mullah in settled area) or BLA leaders; all these clever people are performing very well in their respective field. Their life style in itself is the success story of cleverness and brevity worth imitating by ambitious ones. By the way bureaucrats (even lower level Govt. servants), media and an other very important organ of society which cannot named due to fear of contempt is also not an exception.

    Why to include TTP in the scheme of things, although they live in mountains yet they drive latest/costliest four wheel luxury jeeps suiting environments, more than one wives, lot of siblings, costly carpets and tents (like Gulf Shaikhs at the time of hunting), best food, wealth in US Dollars and best bodyguard , what else yo be achieved in life. Cleverness and brevity inst’ it paid of?
    A Peshawary


  • MSS
    Sep 22, 2013 - 11:09AM

    Your logic is great. I doubt if the politicians have the foresight.


  • Qasim
    Sep 22, 2013 - 2:39PM

    Wish the leadership (political and khaki) was as smart as you try to portray them. Who are you trying to help with these far-fetched conjectures?


  • Murthy
    Sep 22, 2013 - 7:37PM

    The way law and order is getting out of control, either by chance or design, the ground for another, all too familiar, army take over is getting stronger by the day.


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