Foreign propaganda and foreign proxies
Last week, Federal Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan had categorically stated that Pakistan will not accept any foreign pressure in regard to talks with the militants. Before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif leaves for the US next week to attend 68th General Assembly session, the government has reiterated its position that Pakistan would not buckle under any foreign pressure about talks with the militants. In Pakistan, a few analysts, panelists and so-called liberal intellectuals criticize the resolution adopted by the All Parties Conference to hold talks with the militants. As a matter of fact the resolution was demonstration of the will of 190 million people, as all the political parties in the assembly unanimously passed the resolution. However, some of the militant groups are acting as foreign proxies, or foreign intelligence agencies have made inroads in those organizations. The aim of holding APC was to stop bloodshed by misguided elements or terrorists who were funded and sponsored by external forces.
Rob Crilly, representative of the Daily Telegraph in his recent article titled “Only in Pakistan can the Taliban be described as stakeholders”, criticized Pakistan government. He wrote: “World anxiously waited to know Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s scheme to deal with the menace of terrorism, maintain security, focus on economy and attract foreign investment in the country”. He added that after four months of waiting Nawaz Sharif’s action on the most crucial aspects came in shape of APC resolution which was observed in the west with deep dismay. The resolution had rightly mentioned that ISAF/NATO was responsible for loss of lives including security personnel, innocent civilians (women and children), as they were involved in Salala incident, and Pakistani Taliban holed in Kunar and Nooristan have their blessings when they launch attacks in Pakistan. And it is also true that drone strikes are illegal. The author was critical that in the APC resolution, and alleged that Haqqani Network is a proxy of ISI and one of the factions responsible for terrorism in Pakistan, which is travesty of the truth.
The very title of the article is reflective of author’s mindset when he said that in Pakistan the Taliban are described as the stakeholders. Of course, they are party to the conflict or war but Pakistan never conveyed an impression that they are stakeholders. Anyhow, Pakistan has the right to decide about the strategy of either talks or a crackdown keeping in view its own problems. Pakistan’s civil and military leaderships indeed have the political will and firm resolve to fight the terrorists, if the desired results are not achieved in the talks. There are still some problems in initiating the talks with the Taliban vis-à-vis conditions from the Taliban side. However, martyrdom of military officers in Upper Dir has clouded the prospects of the proposed talks. Major General Sanaullah Niazi, Lt. Col. Tauseef and soldier Irfan were killed in a roadside bomb attack in Upper Dir district after they were returning from forward posts along the Afghan border. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed the responsibility for the attack. However, one cannot rule out possible involvement of foreign hand in Upper Dir incident.
After the tragic death of military personnel, the National Assembly of Pakistan unanimously passed a resolution condemning the attack on military officers, expressing deep sympathies for the grieved families, and offering salute to the bravery and courage of Pakistan Armed Forces. The house vowed to back them in their efforts to protect the country. According to earlier reports, the TTP had demanded withdrawal of troops from the tribal areas. “Pakistan must take steps which can develop an atmosphere of trust and can remove doubts and suspicion. We cannot move forward unless the government accepts our demands”, spokesman for the banned TTP told the BBC and western news agencies. Reportedly, the TTP has finalized a 35-point agenda, which includes demand for release of 4765 prisoners languishing in different jails in Pakistan, release of Mumtaz Qadri who had killed former governor Salman Taseer, and handing over to it former president Pervez Musharraf. Of course, the government has to establish the writ of the state either through negotiations or use of force.
It was hoped that militants would announce ceasefire, as the government had already given a gesture of goodwill by postponing the death sentence to the militants that include TTP operatives and commanders. However, with the martyrdom of Major General Sanaullah Niazi and others, the chances of talks have been obscured, as conscionable elements say what is left now to talk about when militants continue with their heinous acts. The fact of the matter is that unless foreign backers of some militants groups stop supporting and funding them or tell them to call a day, they will not come to the negotiations table. There are also reports that militants and some criminal groups are generating funds through ransom, extortion and by terrorizing the people. Militant organizations require funds not only to support specific terrorist operations, but also for training and maintaining the terrorist outfits. They need financial resources to promote militant ideology, pay operatives and their families, bear travel expenses, recruit and train new members, acquire weapons and launch attacks. Terrorists’ sources of funding include zakat, donations, charities, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, thefts, bank robbery, and kidnapping for ransom.
In this regard, we have a case study of Sri Lanka, where it was primarily due to the unrelenting efforts and sheer determination of Sri Lankan leadership that it could decimate Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelan (LTTE) ending the decades-old civil war and battle for carving out an independent ethnic homeland. At least once, the then prime minister Mrs. Bandaranaike had offered to amend the constitution to give a special status to the region inhabited and controlled by the LTTE; but Tigers wanted nothing short of independence. However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa managed to cut the supply line of ‘Tigers’ including the main source of supply of arms to Tamil Tigers in shiploads from Singapore, financed by Tamil Diaspora. The government of Pakistan also would have to persuade the other countries to stop funding the extremists and terrorists, and to take steps to stop material support from abroad through our porous border. We cannot overlook the sensitivities of the coastline before any action, and the borders would have to be sealed.