Conspiratorial Paranoia

Map of Pak-Afghanistan

By Brig (R) Sher Shah

Mr Zahid Hussain’s, article “Conspiratorial Paranoia” in Dawn of August 28, is a good piece of reflection of our confused

hypothesisation of internal threats. Mr Zahid has made three points; firstly, the retired army generals while on talk shows profess more of foreign hands in militant threat to Pakistan, secondly, army has maintained a deliberate ambiguity about the identity of enemy, thirdly, we must come out of dangerous delusion of being victims of some foreign conspiracy. The course of action he suggested includes condemning and fighting militancy and greater unity among the forces who want to revive the vision of a liberal democratic state. I shall draw the attention of your readers to the modern approach of SWOT (strength, weaknesses, options and threats) analysis commonly used in strategic planning. While analyzing threats to our security, the weaknesses are to be viewed seriously as threats emerge from within and are exploited /exacerbated by the threats from external sources.

Therefore, external hand can never be denied in the internal threat posed by TTP and their ilk, who cannot survive without being financed and equipped/armed by external power(s). Let us not forget that threats to the states have political motives of the threatening elements within the state or/and the external forces. These threats may be triggered by events other than internal developments and can be taken over by external forces finding confluence of own political objectives with the internal elements. In our case, TTP emerged as a reaction to the deployment of army in FATA in pursuance of the US demand. Since we did not own this war, TTP gained support of external forces to develop an internal threat thereby forcing us to own the war. Hence, now it is our war, as General Kayani elucidated and we must fight it out.

For the army to motivate a soldier to attack own people with the same battle cry (Allah – o-Akbar) is the most difficult thing. I believe, our army has not maintained any ambiguity about the enemy since beginning by stating that we are fighting the anti-state elements, who are sponsored by external forces. This was based on their professional assessment of available intelligence.

The combat soldier was told clearly that he is fighting own misguided people who are playing in the hands of enemy.  We must especially appreciate the soldiers from FATA, as some of them were sometimes actually confronting their own blood relations. We must understand that of all the factors influencing the accomplishment of a mission, enemy is undoubtedly the most challenging, dynamic and variable.

The enemy is ever vigilant, vibrant, full of innovations and surprises for us and not static as the author believes it to be. The developments in the GWOT during last decade are governed by the independent will of the United State alone. We must never fail in mis-appreciation of that will. Biscuits and bombs were dropped at the same time in Afghanistan. A word about the erstwhile ‘assets’. They are mercenaries of a kind and when we abandoned them, they have been hired by someone else.

I recall my suggestion to the Army high command that the Mujahedeen may be absorbed in Mujahid Battalions to keep them on job and avoid slipping into wrong hands. General Musharaf just laughed it out. Lastly, may I request the liberal forces to put to hold their agenda. Lets us save Pakistan first and reform it later in a  gradual manner. Any effort to go on so called liberal path will further divide us. Balance must be maintained by all of us.

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