Pashtuns Also Support Military Operation
Welcoming ceasefire offer of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the government led by PML-N has not only halted the air strikes on the hideouts of the militants in the tribal areas, but also resumed the suspended peace dialogue with the Taliban. But, taking note of the terror-attack in the District Court of Islamabad which killed 11 people including an additional session judge on March 4, this year coupled with assault on the anti-polio workers in the Khyber Agency, both the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have repeatedly said that peace talks and violent acts of terrorism cannot go side by side. While unveiling the national security policy in the National Assembly on February 26, Chaudhry Nisar had also stated that the attacks from militants would be met with an appropriate military response. At the same time, in a fresh statement, he pointed out in the National Assembly that the dialogue was still the preferred option and that a new governmental committee with representation from the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Government will take the process forward in a meaningful way.
Contrarily, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has disclosed that a full-scale military operation against Taliban in the tribal areas could be launched as early as this month in case of violation of ceasefire by the militants. While hinting towards military action, he explained, “The Government or Armed Forces whose job is to defend the country, cannot sit idle, if writ of the state is challenged and that is what they did recently by launching surgical strikes against hideouts of terrorists, which proved effective and pushed Taliban to a stage where they were understandably compelled to announce unconditional ceasefire.” A similar message emanated from the Corps Commanders’ meeting on March 7 and this makes things more unpredictable. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz also stated that dialogue with the Taliban had derailed, adding that the state’s writ would be established in the troubled regions of FATA. In fact, TTP have been acting upon a dual strategy, as sometimes it accept responsibility for its terror-attacks, but sometimes, it deny the same. But contradictory statements of its spokesmen prove that this militant outfit is behind several subversive acts which still continue at various places. In this respect, TTP has refused that it was behind the recent attacks in Islamabad and Khyber Agency, but it accepted responsibility when Taliban insurgents targeted the Rangers, Police and anti-polio workers in Karachi in wake of the peace talks. Similarly, Taliban had claimed responsibility for the brutal massacre of 23 personnel of the Frontier Constabulary who were abducted from Mohmand Agency, four years ago and later shifted to Afghanistan.
It is notable that the TTP had condemned the brutal assault on the church in Peshawar. But, afterwards, its spokesman had remarked that it was in accordance with Sharia (Islamic Jurisprudence) which indicated that the group was behind that ruthless attack. So, ambivalent statements of the TTP-led Taliban have endorsed that it had sabotaged the peace dialogue by playing double game.
However, on March 4, the Leader of the Opposition, Syed Khurshid Shah of the PPP including several parliamentarians doubted the intentions of the TTP, as they discussed Islamabad District Court’s incident. They were of the view that on one hand, the TTP announced ceasefire and on the other hand, it was carrying out terrorist acts. They stated that ceasefire from Taliban was another deception attack—killing innocent people and warned that parliament house might be the next target. They criticized the interior minister for declaring Islamabad a safe city few days back, expressing concern that even the Presidency and Prime Minister House were not safe.
Nevertheless, despite grasping the real attentions of the Taliban, the present government is wavering between fact and scepticism by following the policy of appeasement towards all the Taliban groups, especially the TTP. It is owing to this delay of the rulers in devising a comprehensive strategy to deal with the terrorists with iron hands that some leaders like Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan who had earlier condemned the TTP terror-attacks and favoured a military operation have again been insisting upon the rulers to continue present peace talks with the Taliban.
It is of particular attention that although Pakistan’s other provinces have been facing various forms of subversive attacks, yet wave of terrorism has intensified in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the past few years. In this regard, militant attacks on Peshawar Air Port, Pearl Continental Hotel, the courageous leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) Bashir Ahmad Bilour, Malala Yousafzai and members of national assemblies including several suicide attacks and bomb blasts in Peshawar, other cities, funerals, places of worship, government buildings, bazaars, schools, video shops, cinemas, assaults on security forces and law-enforcing agencies in various cities of the province might be cited as example.
Similar acts of sabotage have continued in FATA, and TTP always felt pride in accepting responsibility for these heinous activities. In some tribal areas and Swat, the militant leaders created states within the state, and have been involved in a number of crimes such as drug-smuggling, forced marriages, hostage-takings for ransom and even car-snatching including beheadings and killing the moderate dissidents. In the Khyber agency, they are also indulged in murdering and torturing Shias in their majority areas, forcing them to flee. They have discouraged women’s education, keeping them ignorant and exploitable. When Taliban had their hold in Dir, Swat, Buner and other adjoining areas, they imposed their self-styled religious agenda. It was due to Taliban’s inhuman activities that when in 2009, Pak Army ejected them from these regions through military operations which were also conducted in South Waziristan, general masses of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA did not protest against the armed forces. Besides drastic implications of the CIA-operated drone attacks, the Pushtoons boldly faced more than four million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) by refusing to accept Taliban style of Shariah and preferred to live in camps.
Notably, the Pushtoons are successful businessmen. But, the Taliban have given a greater blow to their business through brutal attacks. Therefore, they resent the cowardly acts of these insurgents. In some tribal areas, the Pushtoons, raised Lashkars in order to cope with the Taliban militancy which has challenged their survival. People of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA also know that in connivance with India and Israel, America has been implementing its anti-Pakistan activities by assisting militancy in Pakistan through various subversive activities including sectarian and ethnic violence through TTP. In this connection, American CIA, Indian secret agency RAW and Israeli Mossad have also been sending heavily-armed militants from Afghanistan’s side, which have targeted the security check posts of Pakistan’s forces, Police and other infrastructure of the tribal areas, located near Afghan border. On the whole, they have killed several persons.
Like the people of other provinces, Pashtoons are aware of the fact that the Taliban who are less than one percent of the population in the country have become self-proclaimed campaigners of Islam, while, the victims of terror-attacks in Pakistan, especially Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been innocent men women and children. No doubt, Jihad is a sacred obligation, but its real spirit needs to be understood clearly, as murdering innocent people is not Jihad. In fact, by implementing the agenda of some foreign powers, these Taliban and their banned affiliated groups are defaming Islam, concept of Jihad, and are destabilizing Pakistan.
Now, these terrorists have intensified their anti-social, undemocratic and un-Islamic practices in wake of peace dialogue, therefore, people from all the segment of life and majority of politicians in Pakistan including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA want that a handful of terrorist elements must not be allowed to impose their self-perceived ideology on the majority of Pakistanis, while supporting military action against these culprits. Although the Taliban consists of Pashtuns, but the latter who have rejected irrational notion of these insurgents have glorious traditions of bravery and chivalry. Nefarious attacks on women, children and other places are against the traditions of Pashtuns who are patriot and peace-loving people. Now, some political and religious entities have been pointing to some external elements which are behind the menace of terrorism in the country. In this context, without naming US, some are hinting towards the “third power”, and some are indicating India. Nonetheless, at this critical juncture, entire nation and media are united against the Taliban’s double game by favouring military action against them. And armed forces are well-prepared for the same, as successful aerial strikes on the sanctuaries of the Taliban have recently proved. While Pushtuns also support military operation against the Taliban, particularly TTP, who have destroyed the peace of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.
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 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org