Sometimes, unfortunately, political debates surrounding Taliban and terrorism turn to fist fights, calling one another names and mocking one another which isn’t healthy. Instead we should focus on the issues. In addition to that it is most unfortunate that most of the commentary and argument that goes on is not backed by facts. People are opinionated and there is nothing wrong about it. However, our opinions should be based on facts and ground realities and not emotions and hard headedness. At the same time we should be willing to change our opinions if presented with rational arguments backed by solid facts rather than making it an issue of personal ego and rolling up our sleeves.
The basic theme and ideas of those who do not consider war against terrorism as our war is:
1- The terrorist attacks are taking place because the state of Pakistan has gone on to attack the homes in tribal areas.
2- The tribal turned terrorists are only upset because their homes are being bombed in the tribal areas and they want to convey their message that stop attacking us and only then we will stop.
3- The terrorists are only choosing hard targets to convey a message
4- Musharraf is the root of all evil since he allowed Americans inside Pakistan and sold Pakistanis and therefore democracy is the answer to it.
5- The suggestion that AlQaida leadership in Pakistan is a sham and the people “parroting” this rhetoric belong to elitist Musharraf school of thought who have nothing at stake in Pakistan and because of their rhetoric Pakistan is losing.
6- The terrorists are not against common Pakistanis and therefore they did not hit lawyer’s movement for the restoration of justice.
7- War on terror is monolithic.
8- War on Terror is not Pakistan’s war and therefore Pakistanis should stand up to abandon this fight and things will be hunky dory.
Allow me to disagree with all these notions presented here. Such opinion not only lack facts they contradict the facts on the ground. The figment of imagination presented by such opinion maybe the result of his emotions but they are clearly without basis. This Imran Khan school of thought which uses emotions but not brains is as detrimental to the security of this nation as was Musharraf’s egotistical working on many issues and is as extremist in its approach to dealing with this problem as was Musharraf’s (though on the opposite end of the spectrum).
Kindly consider the following facts and then analyze the flaws of the above menioned thesis.
Fallacy #1: The terrorist attacks are taking place because the state of Pakistan has gone on to attack the homes in tribal areas.
It is a common misconception that extremist terrorism and suicide attacks came to Pakistan after Musharraf’s flawed approach after 9/11. Wrong. The first suicide attack in Pakistan by Al Qaida (AQ) was committed on 19th November, 1995 when two AQ suicide bombers rammed their explosive laden vehicles into the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad. This was 4 years before Musharraf’s takeover and 6 years before 9/11!! 12 Pakistanis, 5 diplomats, 3 foreigners were killed and 60 were injured. There was no Musharraf at that time there was no military rule at that time there was no war on terror at that time yet there was AQ’s monstrous tentacles right in the heart of Pakistani capital. AQ openly claimed responsibility of this crime and even celebrated it in Afghanistan. There was a terrible wave of sectarian killings in the 1990s all attributed to terrorists who were being trained in Afghanistan and were being sheltered in Afghanistan. Throughout 1990s the tribal area was a hub of drug smuggling, weapons smuggling & vehicle smuggling. People kidnapped for ransom were taken to tribal areas, cars snatched and stolen were taken to tribal areas, and proclaimed offenders (ishtiharis) committed crimes and then fled to tribal areas where they were given asylum in return for commission by tribal elders in the name of “Pakhtoon Riwaj” (I do not mean to disrespect Pakhtoon Riwaj, the point I want to make is that name of Pakhtoon Riwaj was being misused) and nothing we could do because it was “Ilaqa Ghair”. The US did not attack this region after 9/11. They had already begun doing so when they struck on 20th August 1998 with cruise missile strikes. This was one year before Musharraf’s becoming COAS and then his subsequent takeover. US had already rung the warning bells to us only that we were ignorant and wild with religious ecstasy. Pray tell me was this all because we had hit tribal areas or because of military rule of Musharraf or because of “war on terror”. Nay, AQ had begun attacking Pakistan long before that. 9/11 strewed up the hornet’s nest and yes Musharraf did make many mistakes in his tactics and strategies to deal with this problem and for that he should be held accountable and criticized yet to consider him the root of this problem does not match facts. The problem had materialized 4 years before his appearance on the scene and still persists with all its ferocity one year after he left the scene. Our problem is institutional and its deep rooted in our social thinking and approach to problems and is well represented in those articles where the author seem to be driven by emotions rather than facts and it is commonly observed on a certain forum where such articles without merit are given prominence.
The attackers who are attacking us are not only from tribal areas they are from all over the place. They are arabs, uzbeks, tajiks, chechens, afghans and even punjabis. The attacker caught in the latest Lahore attack belongs to Paktia province of Afghanistan. Pray tell me when did Pakistani forces went on to attack Arabian gulf, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan or even any area in Punjab?? To suggest that attackers have their causes in operations in tribal areas does not always get verified by facts on the ground. Yes, in a majority of cases the attackers have been from tribal areas. That is the general trend but that doesn’t translate into a rule.
Fallacy # 2- The tribal turned terrorists are only upset because their homes are being bombed in the tribal areas and they want to convey their message that stop attacking us and only then we will stop.
Nearly 600 tribal elders, maliks and khans have been killed in the tribal areas by these terrorists. If the terrorists were upset with Islamabad alone why would they go on to kill their own? More than 10 jirgas (there may be more but I am quoting a verifiable figure only) in Pakhtoon belt by these terrorists. More than 250 tribals have lost their lives in these suicide bomb blasts. Now any tribal or pakhtoon no matter how hot headed or angry he may be will not go on to attack a jirga in which his own tribal elders are sitting to resolve an issue in accordance with their local tradition. This trend shows a more heinous mind set and a more barbaric thinking than the kindness being shown to these terrorists by certain authors and media persons.
Fallacy # 3- The terrorists are only choosing hard targets and avoiding soft targets
Mosques (latest Jamrud attack), funerals (multiple incidents in tribal areas), eid prayers (attack on Sherpao), Hujras (attack on Asfandyar Wali greeting visitors on eid), Jirgas, sports ceremony (latest Pakistan National Games ending ceremony in Peshawar), political workers and elected leaders (ANP has lost 200), religious leaders (Maulana Hassan Jan of Peshawar who dared to criticize Taliban), Chinese engineers, foreign journalists, diplomats (Iran)……. !! I wonder where does Dr. Qaisar Rashid live since he doesn’t even have the most basic facts straight resulting in his pathetically poor analysis and misleading people.
Fallacy # 4- Musharraf is the root of all evil since he allowed Americans inside Pakistan and sold Pakistanis and therefore democracy is the answer to it.
Pray tell me, who sold Ramzi Ahmed Yousuf in 1995 without a trial –> the democratic government of Benazir. Pray tell me, who sold Aimal Kasi (a Pakistani citizen) in 1997 –> the democratic government of Nawaz Sharif. The CIA came all the way to Dera Ghazi Khan to capture him. Two wrongs will not make a right and I do not mean to defend Musharraf. The point I want to make
The Americans and the CIA have long been operating freely in Pakistan. Musharraf is certainly part of the problem but not the root of it since we have examples of these things happening before him and we will possibly have after him. The problems are institutional and a systematic approach to solve them will work not bashing Musharraf. (P.S. I am not defending Ramzi or Aimal. They were criminals who were served justice through proper trial in the US. Although Pakistani laws were defied in the process).
Fallacy # 5- The suggestion that AQ leadership in Pakistan is a sham and the people “parroting” this rhetoric belong to elitist Musharraf school of thought who have nothing at stake in Pakistan and because of their rhetoric Pakistan is losing.
I am utterly surprised at the confidence with which this claim has been made and it only speaks of the void of knowledge at the author’s end. The problem is we don’t know where AQ leadership is. They may or they may not be in Pakistan. To claim with certainty that they are not in Pak is as wrong as claiming with certainty that they are in Pak and that is what Musharraf always said too. Pray tell me if the following criminals were not caught in Pakistan: Khaled Sheikh Mohammed (Rawalpindi), Ahmed Umar Shaikh (Karachi), Abu Faraj Libbi (Mardan), Ahmed Hamabil (Karachi)….. Digging your head in sand like an ostrich will not serve you!! Please face facts no matter how ugly.
Fallacy # 6- The terrorists are not against common Pakistanis and therefore they did not hit lawyer’s movement for the restoration of justice.
At this statement I can only bang my head against a wall. I have already given a number of examples of ordinary Pakistanis victimized by these terrorists and will quote here the near-miss strikes on lawyers.
The lawyer’s movement was attacked or about to be attacked thrice and only luck and yes the police saved them (the very poor police personnel who the author so arrogantly called hard target and who he so indifferently called message delivery objects).
a) July 17, 2007 At least 17 people were killed and 50 injured as a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the venue of the district bar council convention in Islamabad killing mostly PPP political workers waiting for the arrival of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was to address a lawyers convention
b) January 10, 2008 24 people were killed and 73 injured in a suicide attack when the policemen were deliberately targeted outside Lahore High Court before the scheduled lawyer’s protest against the government in provincial capital of Lahore.
c) March 16, 2009 At least 14 people were killed and 17 injured on Monday when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the busiest bus stand of Rawalpindi at Pirwadhai when people coming for long march were returning.
Fallacy #7- War on terror is monolithic
No its not. There are multiple groups with multiple interests and objective and each has to be considered differently. There are Afghan Taliban, there are local extremist Taliban, there is AQ, there are tribes, there are local criminals who are just involved in crimes but when attacked quickly put on black turbans to mislead people that they are holy fighters, then there are sectarian extremists who have other agenda. Fudging them all together and then continuing to bash the state of Pakistan is at best foolish. They need to segregated and then individual policies need to be crafted. There are different aspects of this situation and not every situation is our concern but some really are.
Fallacy #8- War on terror is not Pakistan’s war and therefore if Pakistan separates from it everything will be hunky dory.
This is a complex question. As stated above War on Terror is not monolithic and therefore not every aspect needs to be owned ambitiously e.g. what goes on in Afghanistan for Afghan national movement should not be our concern but when terrorists go out to hit Pakistani state should certainly be our concern and we must take responsibility for it. Suggesting that Pakistan should simply withdraw from tribal areas and everything will be hunky dory may sound cool in theory but practically it may turn out to be a recipe for disaster. The vacuum will quickly be filled by terrorists and Nato forces. Hoping that things will be hunky dory if PM of Pak steps up to say we are not part of anything is again foolish as the terrorists are hell bent on completely erasing the current face of Pakistan and its society and changing its contours according to their own dark mentalities. Just look on the banners put on different streets on 18th Feb 2008 “Hamein Jamhooriat nahein khilafat chahiye” and Sufi Mohammad’s statement “Jamhooriat kufr ka nizaam hai isay nahein manta” and the destruction of schools and ban on women and so on and so forth.
Source: pk politics
Nazir Naji, 3 April 2009