Unabashedly the apologists of the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) are coming out of the cupboard. On the television screen they are screaming and wailing on the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud. They are more vociferous in condemning his death, than they ever were when thousands of civilians and military personnel were butchered by the Hakimullah-led TTP.
Let’s analyse the major arguments given by the political supporters of TTP briefly. First, the claim is that the US has droned Hakimullah just when the government was about to start negotiations with the Taliban, so it is to destabilise Pakistan and sabotage the talks. What we tend to overlook conveniently, or because our leaders lack courage, is that the TTP strategy after the talks offer was not to cease terrorist activities. Instead they moved the ante up to boost its bargaining power by killing senior military officials, FC soldiers and stepping up terrorist attacks on civilians, for which they used their off-shoots. That was always expected, as in all armed conflicts along with talks each side tries to show its muscle.
On the other hand the government looked weak and begging for peace without any show of power. In this background if the US has bumped off the TTP leader who had claimed the killings of many people in the videos released by it and Al Qaeda propaganda, the government should have used it as an opportunity to send the message that TTP has to behave or else both Pakistan and the US power will take them on. On the contrary the government is being forced in the corner by the contorted arguments of an emotional Imran Khan. Instead of leading courageously the government is following the right wing leaders who have the audacity of honouring Hakimullah as a martyr.
Second, TTP’s political wing says that the US had done it in its own interest. Of course only a fool would believe that in the realpolitik politicians our countries do something for altruistic reasons. They are also supported by some anti-American liberal and left activists. Here they tend to forget the basics. TTP and other Al Qaeda franchisees have not only killed more people and army-men in Pakistan than we lost in many military adventures in the last 66 years. As General Kayani rightly said in May this year the terrorists are the biggest threat to the country. In such a case there is convergence of interest of the people of Pakistan and the US because both are endangered by the terrorist organisations. In politics when it comes to dealing with any issue it is always important to mark who are your possible allies and adversaries. On a number of issues related to the economic model or US designs against China and Iran it can be our adversary. But the immediate existential threat is from the people who follow the Al Qaeda ideology which is to take us back to the medieval period and are dreaming to bring an Islamic revolution across the globe starting from the Muslim majority countries.
Time and again Pakistan has protested that drone attacks in the tribal areas are against the international law and violate our sovereignty. Here the question is who are we joking with? The wwhole country knows that Pakistan has no control along the Durand line. So the area where we don’t have our writ and have failed to establish it in the last three decades is not under our sovereign rule.In reality it is a no man’s land. At the same time we know that Taliban cross from the tribal areas to Afghanistan to carry out terrorist activities. If we cannot stop these insurgencies from Pakistan and abolish safe havens how do we expect the world to sympathise with us when we cry that our sovereignty is being violated. The other side has the right to hot pursuit. Let us first respect the sovereignty of our neighbours by reigning in the Jihadists and then demand that our land should not be violated.
Third, there is a bizzare debate that Hakimullah’s death was an extra-judicial killing or not. Are we kidding this is a civil-war situation my dears, in which the other side slits the throats of the people captured by them, supports the sectarian killings actively and proudly puts it on You Tube. What do you expect that the police or a few Rangers can walk in and arrest the likes of Hakimullah and read them their legal rights? Nobody can even enter North Waziristan, and in such a situation you get a terrorist anyway you can.
Fourth, our simpleton Khan believes that drone attacks have made people of tribal areas terrorists and ‘throat-slitting animals.’ This is in complete disregard of the history of terrorism in Pakistan and also shows little understanding of the ideology of these groups. These groups are closely associated with the Afghan Taliban movement and are ideologically close to Al Qaeda, which is the reason AQ’s propaganda machinery releases TTP material also. The seeds of creating Islamic Jihadis were sown by General Zia and nurtured by the US administration. The new generation has revolted against both because Osama’s message was that all the rulers of Muslim majority countries were US lackeys, westernization and democracy was against the tenets of Islam.
Lastly another dimension has been added by the establishment which perhaps privately considers Hakimullah’s killing as good riddance. Two developments give strength to this argument: one that of late people close to the establishment have started saying that TTP was working for the Afghan and Indian intelligence; and two a few days before Hakimullah was killed, the Ministry of Defence told the National Assembly that the actual collateral civilian loss of life via drone attacks was very small as compared to the killing of terrorists.
Now the question for the conspiracy theorist is: if TTP was working for the Indians and Afghans then how come they were the US enemies? As according to these theorists both US and India want to destabilise Pakistan, then why did they kill the TTP chief who was doing this job effectively? And why our Interior Minister whose job is to fix up the foreign agents was so upset? The more one thinks about these conspiracy theories, the more holes are spotted and the situation becomes murkier.
Tailpiece: If the American would ask for the head money we had on the number of terrorists killed by them, I am afraid our coalition support fund’s bottom line may go in the red. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The writer is the author of ‘What’s wrong with Pakistan?’