Media Disinformation about Terrorist Gul Bahadur
When the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb started against the militants in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took the nation into confidence through parliament, emphasizing that Pakistan would not be allowed to become safe havens of terrorists. He further stated that military operation would continue till achievement of ultimate objectives. Earlier, DG, ISPR Directorate, Major-Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said, “On the directions of the Government, Armed forces of Pakistan have launched the operation against foreign and local terrorists…who had been waging a war against the state of Pakistan by disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property…with the support of the entire nation, these enemies will be denied space across the country.” On June 16, 2014, Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif also pointed out, “Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been launched with the objectives of rooting out terrorists, eliminate their sanctuaries in NWA and rid the country of terrorism.”
It is quite clear that Zarb-e-Azb has been launched against all terrorists in NWA in order to eliminate and destroy terrorists. So far, the operation is proceeding well to achieve its objectives, as it has been launched after having ascertained national consensus, while all political parties supported it. No doubt, operation Zarb-e-Azb has been launched with full force, politico-military resolve and determination without differentiating between good and bad terrorists.
Unfortunately, foreign media and few domestic reporters and analysts have been spreading disinformation by propagating that operation Zarb-e-Azb has been delayed purposely to allow good militants to leave the area or find new abode/sanctuaries elsewhere. Their acrimonious propaganda contents shamelessly termed operation Zarb-e-Azb as forged action and fake exercise undertaken by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Pak Army which was not taking any action against other terrorists including Gul Bahadar who is the leader of a Pakistani Taliban faction based in North Waziristan.
Since Pakistani Security Forces have been confronting with world’s most dangerous terrorists in NWA, the aim of misleading propaganda against the sincerity and credibility of military operation is to demoralize the troops, engaged in the operation. The noble cause followed by troops enabled them to kill over 800 terrorists, destroying their strongholds/sanctuaries, demolishing tunnels and factories producing IED (Explosives), while drying the sources of their funds and sinking their public support.
In this regard, recent air strikes against terrorists in Khyber and Dutta Khel (NWA) killed 48 suspected militants. A house belonging to Gul Bahadar has been destroyed in the air strike. Reportedly, terrorist Fazlullah and other prominent militant commanders were also present in the targeted house. Unfortunately, Gul Bahadar managed to escape, but others have reportedly been killed. Military has really demonstrated its zeal and firm resolve to eliminate all terrorists from NWA without any discrimination. This shows not only the level of seriousness of military to eliminate terrorists, but also proves that propagandists’ stance was incorrect and malicious that Gul Bahadar was being sponsored by military as a good militant.
Regrettably, foreign media analysts and writers have been propagating against Pakistan through their misleading and evasive designs to project Gul Bahadar as an asset of Pakistan Army and country’s intelligence agency, ISI. Few domestic reporters having been influenced by external propaganda also asserted that Pakistan Army and ISI were soft on terrorists like Gul Bahadar.
In this connection, we must know the real character of Gul Bahadur. The fact of the matter is that Gul Bahadur has sold himself to foreigners, one wonders, as to how many dollars Gul Bahadur would have won, while selling the pride of his tribe.
It is notable that the successive governments of Pakistan had upheld the peace treaty of 2006 with Gul Bahadur, and security forces stood by their promise despite suffering heavy casualties and assaults on their installations. Gul Bahadur was the only one who refused to expel foreign fighters, and stood alone on their side, while the complete tribal Shura stood loyal to the state by opposing his anti-Pakistan activities.
Unlike a genuine leader, Gul Bahadur has opted to endanger men, women and children of North Waziristan Agency for his personal gains. Playing in the hands of external enemies, he allowed terrorist activities including development of IED making factories with large quantity of explosives, anti-tank mines, and suicide training centers in his area from where terrorists were being sent to various places of Pakistan. Undoubtedly, in our country, these insurgents were using various kinds of terror attacks and suicide bombing as their main weapon by targeting innocent civilians, women and children, Armed Forces and government functionaries, markets, schools, parks, mosques, churches, temples, shrines, bus stops, railway stations, passengers’ trains and so on. The surviving families of the victims mourn and raise a question asking for what crime their loved ones were punished.
It is mentionable that Mirza Ali Kharn, known as the Faqir of Ipi was a Pashtun from today’s North-Waziristan. His followers addressed him as ‘Haji Sahib’ (Respected Pilgrim). The village of Ipi is located near Mirali Camp in North Waziristan Agency from where the Faqir of Ipi started his guerrilla warfare against the British Empire throughout the 1930s and 1940s until the British departure in 1947. Faqir of lpi was a symbol of resistance against British rule, and boldly fought against the British imperialism. On the contrary, Gul Bahadur who has announced a war against Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and is getting help from his external masters, is the traitor. As compared to Faqir of Ipi, he has misinterpreted Jihad by justifying terrorism and suicide bombings in the name of Islam. Thus, he is misguiding the people, while these brutal acts are clearly against the teachings of Islam.
In this context, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti (Mufti-e-Azam),Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh issued a Fatwa asserting that suicide attacks are illegal and illegitimate (Haram). He explained, “Such acts fall under the category of crime and suicide bombers or attackers are destined to go to Hell…they represent an adversary of Islam and enemy of Muslims and they commit crimes against humanity”, while misguiding other Muslims, especially the innocent youth. Denouncing terrorism as un-Islamic, he elaborated, “Terrorists’ activities are part of a conspiracy to defame Islam and destroy Muslims.”
Nevertheless, Gul Bahadur is also responsible for dislocation and miseries, brought on the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of NWA. His terror-related acts which had taken the peoples of NWA as hostages, compelled the armed forces to launch the ongoing military operation, and thus resulted into the exodus of IDPs into settled areas of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other regions—coupled with multifarious issues like massive departure of families including innocent civilians, women, children and elderly ones along with their personal belongings and animals.
Nonetheless, our media must made it clear that the operation Zarb-e-Azb which has backing of the entire nation started as a result of national consensus, and it is aimed at eliminating all terrorists from NWA, destroying their sanctuaries and demolishing their strongholds.
So, our own political and religious entities including media houses must encounter foreign propaganda by pointing out that operation Zarb-e-Azb does not differentiate between good or bad militants and has not been launched selectively. It is not forged exercise or fake action, as propagated by the anti-Pakistan elements whose assumptions are totally baseless and unfounded.
Quite contrarily to the presumptions, recent air strikes against Gul Bahadar prove that he is treated by Pak Army and ISI as a troubling terrorist and there is no soft corner for him.
While the progress of the operation is very encouraging, especially Pakistan’s media need to show sense of hope and optimism by indicating that the present broad-based military operation will annihilate the terrorists, smashing their hideouts in North Waziristan regions, and peace will return to the area.
Returning to our earlier discussion, disinformation of foreign analysts and some media anchors of Pakistan about the operation Zarb-e-Azb and terrorists like Gul Bahadur must be encountered by our own internal entities.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations