Confusion on how to tackle the hydra-terrorism is compounding during the course of discussion in the media for the last many years. The major contribution in confusing the people is that of the apologists of terrorist in the media, supposedly independent analysts and politicians.
Let’s summarise the contention of the apologists of terrorists, which is based mainly on four assumptions and give them a reality check:
- If the American administration is willing to talk to Afghan Taliban after 11 years of military operation in Afghanistan, why should we not talk to Pakistani Taliban–our own people?
- Why talks with the Baloch separatists are supported by the democrats, while talks with the Taliban groups are opposed by the same people?
- Pakistan should stop supporting the US-led ‘war against terrorism’ and the terrorists will stop attacking in Pakistan.
- Drone attacks should be stopped as it leads to more terrorism.
Firstly, we should stop romanticising that the Afghan Mujahideen defeated USSR single-handedly in the 80s and now Taliban have single-handedly forced the NATO forces to withdraw. And that opening of talks with Afghan Taliban is to seek safe exit. This propaganda gave a false image of grandiose to the Afghan Mujahideen and is now doing the same with the Afghan Taliban. The reality is that the 1980 Afghan war was supported and engineered by Pakistan, US and Saudi Arabia. Similarly, the Afghan Taliban couldn’t have conquered Kabul without open support by the Pakistan government in the 1990s. But after 9/11 they are isolated in the world have only the covert support of Pakistan without which they couldn’t have carried on insurgency in Afghanistan for last 11 years.
Secondly, the Taliban apologists should read the text of the Afghan Taliban spokesman issued on the opening of their office in Doha, Qatar. It says “Islamic Emirates (Afghan Taliban) has waged Jihad and struggled using all legitimate means to achieve an independent Islamic system. Islamic Emirate has also a political policy and has its military targets which are restricted to Afghanistan. Islamic Emirate does not want to harm any other country outside its own (Afghan) territory and does not give permission to anybody to use its territory to harm and challenge peace of other countries. Islamic Emirates desires good relations with its neighbours and other countries of the world and we want peace and justice in our country and at international level…” Now isn’t this what the US and Pakistan was telling the Taliban government in the three weeks between 9/11 and 10/7 in 2001? But the stubborn Mullah Omar did not budge on the request to expel Osama and his Al Qaeda from Afghanistan. He had given shelter to all the Islamic militants of various nationalities. He imposed fascistic laws. So if the Taliban are now accepting that they would not let Afghan territory to be used for harming other countries, they have accepted the position which the US had taken before the impatient Bush stupidly launched the invasion of Afghanistan.
Thirdly, after weakening Al Qaeda with the assistance of Pakistan and strengthening the anti-Taliban government, the weakened Afghan Taliban have been brought to the negotiating table in Doha goaded by their Pakistani sponsors. The US is thus pulling out not as the defeated super-power as our Taliban apologists want us to believe but after damaging Al Qaeda’s operational abilities. Therefore, talk we must, but only when the terrorist organisations operating in Pakistan are weakened and they agree to join the mainstream politics like many Islamic political parties.
Fourthly, talks with Afghan Taliban analogy cannot be used to support Pakistan government talks with domestic terrorist organisations at this stage. The agenda of Pakistani Taliban and other terrorist organisation is in line with Al Qaeda, while Afghan Taliban have distanced themselves from the Al Qaeda’s cause of spreading its version of Islamism in other countries.
Killing of Mullah Waliur Rehman in a drone attack is being condemned by the PTI-type apologists more than their revengeful killing of 11 peace-loving mountaineers who had nothing to do with this war. Waliur Rehman, who is being projected as pro-talks by the apologists, had rejected democracy and elections as the tools of the West and invited the Muslims to join their struggle in the mountains for the supremacy of Islam. He declared that constitution of Pakistan is a man-made document and compared its follower with the Jahaliyya (ignorant of divine guidance) of the seventh century. His video was released by Al Qaeda in April 2013.
Fifthly, it is also ridiculous to draw parallel between the basis of talks by the Americans with Afghan Taliban and our government with TTP and its allies. Columnist Ayaz Amir has rightly asked: “The Americans are negotiating withdrawal. Do we also negotiate withdrawal?” If we do as it was done by signing peace agreements in FATA and Swat, TTP and allies terrorists will use this opportunity to consolidate and then spread their tentacles to rest of Pakistan. They have already besieged Karachi exit and entry points.
Sixthly, the case of Baloch separatists is different. They have a 65 years history of mistreatment by the Pakistani establishment. Agreement made with them when Pakistan was made was violated and there have been a series of military operations against them. They have no designs to impose their Sharia on Pakistan and they are fighting for the economic political rights of the Baloch not an Al Qaeda ideology and way of living. Thus by acknowledging their rights and seizing the kill-and-dump policy against the Baloch youth some agreement with them can be reached.
Lastly, it is distortion of history that terrorism is the result of drone attacks. Pakistan has been under terrorists attack since 1990s much before the US invaded Afghanistan. Nobody can justify these attacks as they do violate our sovereignty. But the question is does Pakistan government has sovereignty over these tribal areas? Indeed it doesn’t. Even Pakistan army personnel are killed ruthlessly by Taliban and yet Imran and other apologists tell us they are just reacting to Pakistan joining the US war.
Pakistan did not join the war against Afghan Taliban as stated above and there is sufficient proof of that. It did join the war against Al Qaeda and rightly so. Thus Al Qaeda franchisees in Pakistan are fighting against the people of Pakistan and have killed over 50,000 people including children, brutally. What is happening is the part of a greater narrative—clash within Muslim societies between the forces of medieval dogmatic Islam and modernity of 21st century. The history cannot be rolled back, only retrogressive hurdles can be raised which would be washed away by the march of progress. (firstname.lastname@example.org).