A rejoinder to military bashers
Hardly few weeks have lapsed since the departure of the most corrupt government in the history of Pakistan that some writers like Imran Khan (‘A season for negotiations’ in The News dated July 17, 2013) have obliquely started defending the doings of the parasitic regime. He argues that the previous government failed to provide security to the people because of the failure of military and security agencies. He hints that our war efforts were below par and disparages the military for sub-standard performance in war on terror. He quotes the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad as a test case to prove his contention. Imran laments that Pakistanis have agreed that war on terror is ‘not our war’. He says if it is someone else’s war, then why we should be bothered to fight more efficiently. Secular writers like Harris Khalique and some TV anchors lend strength to US vile propaganda that Pak security forces and agencies are either complicit or ineffective in curbing militancy and violence. They view insurgency in Balochistan differently and magnify issue of missing persons under a calculated plan to discredit law enforcement agencies. No article published in The News, Dawn and Daily Times is without throwing mud on military establishment. I must apprise anti-Army-ISI writers and TV anchors with some hard realities which they deliberately ignore.
First; 9/11 is riddled in controversy whether it was an in-house affair or real. Many including Americans strongly believe that it was the brainchild of neo-cons and Jews wanting to neo-colonize the Muslim world and steal its resources. Subsequent events have proven that war on terror was an excuse to pulverize the so-called radical Muslims refusing to fall in line and secularize Islam.
Two; Pakistan was immorally coerced to ditch Taliban regime in Kabul with which it enjoyed excellent relations and to support US aggression. Gen Musharraf threw in his towel with indecent haste.
Three; When Afghanistan was destroyed through carpet bombing and occupied in November 2001, Pakistan including FATA and Balochistan was peaceful. Suicide attacks were unheard of. The tribesmen in FATA reacted when regular soldiers entered South Waziristan (SW) in violation of 1948 agreement and launched operations. They had already taken exception to Pakistan betraying Afghan Taliban and then deciding to provide airbases and supply routes to NATO. Their violent reaction was therefore not altogether unjustified, particularly when force was applied against friendly people of FATA and that too at the dictation of USA who had its own game plan.
Four; Osama after his flight from Tora Bora in December 2001 was out of action and cut off from al-Qaeda and the world. A sick man suffering from severe kidney infection, he had played no role in war on terror and had preferred to lead a quiet life with his three wives and children. Al-Qaeda was run by al-Zawahiri and his deputies and it was he who had declared war on Pakistan after Lal Masjid episode. Killing a sick and unarmed man was cowardly. His death accelerated rather than curbed terrorism the brunt of which fell upon Pakistan only. It must not be forgotten that the world has not been furnished hard evidence about Osama’s presence in Abbottabad. Many consider it a false flag operation undertaken to undermine Pak Army and ISI. Abbottabad Commission has thrown a feeler that operation ‘Get Geronimo’ could have been executed with the blessing of our top civil leadership with sinister designs. It led to Memo scam.
Five; Guerrilla war was fought by Afghan Mujahideen under Mullah Omar, Haqqanis and Gulbadin Hikmatyar in Afghanistan against occupation forces and their collaborators. In Pakistan, TTP affiliated with Afghan Taliban was run by Baitullah Mehsud till August 2009 and then by Hakimullah Mehsud and is pitched against Pak security forces. Terrorist groups from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Sinkiang as well as al-Qaeda got affiliated with TTP and took part in the fray. Subsequently large number of banned Jihadi and terrorist groups, Punjabi Taliban as well as criminal gangs got associated with TTP, which is funded and equipped by CIA, RAW, RAAM and MI-6. Blackwater and CIA network are also operational in Pakistan. Besides, about 1500 NGOs operating in Pakistan are foreign funded and infested with spies working against interests of Pakistan. Army, ISI, MI are up against this formidable internal security threat and had to bear with American installed government dancing to the tunes of Washington.
Six; Backbone of TTP was decisively broken in the three military operations in Swat, Bajaur and SW in 2009. The civil government and judiciary failed to do their part. But for fulsome foreign support and safe havens in Afghanistan, this outfit could not have possibly regained strength and got connected with nearly 40 banned terrorist groups mostly based in urban centres. No arrested terrorist has been convicted. Even those on death row have not been hanged. The TTP is fulfilling the Indo-US agenda to destabilize, denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan. In the bargain, it has been assured funds, weaponry and guidance and has also been duped that it will be assisted in the realization of its wish to establish an Islamic Caliphate in Pakhtunistan.
Seven; Adoption of policy of force has resulted in loss of over 49000 lives of Pakistanis including about 5000 security forces but religious extremism and terrorism couldn’t be bottled up. Militancy could neither be controlled by US-NATO-Afghan forces in Afghanistan, nor by security forces in Pakistan. Five; Pak security forces have a definite upper hand over militants in the northwest and in southwest and no spaces are under their complete control. The story is quite different across the Durand Line where the Taliban have full sway over eastern and southern Afghanistan and can hit targets in any part of the country including Kabul. For all practical purposes, the ISAF has mentally and physically lost the war and has speeded up its withdrawal.
Eight; the US leadership has candidly admitted that force is not the solution and has initiated process of peace talks with its adversary and is seeking Pakistan’s help to convince the Taliban to agree to a political settlement. The occupation forces would exit Afghanistan by end December 2014 and may or may not leave behind a token residual force to support ANSF. The latter being not in a position to withstand the Taliban onslaught once foreign troops depart, it is likely that the Taliban would recapture power sooner than later.
Nine; if the sole super power supported by troops from 48 countries couldn’t defeat an ill-clad and ill-equipped rag-tag force of few thousands devoid of external support, why Imran and his like-minded friends expect that Pak security forces fighting under heavy odds should have defeated the faceless enemy secretly supported by our enemies masquerading as friends. Eight; Decade old war has exhausted the counter-terror forces both sides of the border but no signs of fatigue or drop in recruitment is noticed within the rank and file of the militants. In response to airpower, gunship helicopters, missiles, artillery, tanks and drones, the Taliban use locally manufactured IEDs and suicide bombers as war instruments to cause casualties.
Ten; the US is striving hard to hold meaningful peace talks with Afghan Taliban and is getting desperate to arrive at a political settlement so that presidential and parliamentary elections could be held in 2014 and transition becomes orderly. However, it doesn’t want Pakistan to hold talks with TTP. While it wants Pak security forces to continue fighting the militants in FATA for times to come, it doesn’t want Pak military to confront foreign supported BLA and BRA in Balochistan. Use of force against the separatists is dubbed as human rights violation.
Eleven; It is now a known fact that Door Darshan in India and Obama administration funds the selected Pakistani TV channels and newspapers. The print and electronic media in Pakistan, richly paid by USA and India, slavishly sell the themes of their foreign paymasters to build misperceptions. The anchors of most popular TV channels and journalists writing in leading English newspapers are promoting foreign agenda at the cost of national interests. Interestingly, leading controversial person Hamid Mir has taken up a case against media persons allegedly receiving secret funds from Ministry of Information and agencies to defend vile propaganda and to promote the cause of Pakistan.
Twelve; segment of media has joined hands with liberal forces to oppose PML-N, PTI and JUI- F’s efforts to hold parleys with TTP and find a way out. They are projecting the leaders of the three parties as defeatist and consider offer of dialogue equivalent to surrender. They feel that sufficient force was never applied against the militants. They forget how to this day Pak Army is censured for its alleged atrocities in former East Pakistan. Counter insurgency operation against Indian supported rebels was dubbed as genocide. They fail to remember how Army’s action in Swat in 2009 was lambasted on account of alleged excesses committed by troops against the militants.
Thirteen; astonishingly, the enlightened liberals disfavor use of force against armed BLA and BRA in Balochistan involved in terrorism and heinous crimes and working on foreign agenda to make the province independent. Their atrocities are downplayed and petty issues like missing persons and mutilated bodies exaggerated and sensationalized to create sympathies for the separatists and to discredit FC and agencies. Geo News is leading the assault and is ironically backed by our apex court. This is exactly what Indo-US-western media is propagating.
Lastly; if we are giving peace a chance in Balochistan, and are prepared to overlook the excesses of India to build better Indo-Pak relations, why shouldn’t we try this option in FATA? Consensus on negotiations must be respected. If we want Pakistan to prosper, the cycle of violence must be broken. In case Hakimullah shows disinterest in talks and prefers to keep fighting, or is not in a position to rein in or get detached from affiliated terrorist groups, the first option is always available.
The writer is a retired Brig, a defence analyst and a columnist. email@example.com