Creating a split among masses
Dr Raja Muhammad Khan
Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) has elected Maulana Fazlullah, commonly known as Mullah Radio, as its new chief. As per ‘the Washington Post’ Fazlullah is still hiding in Eastern Afghanistan, Nuristan province. He is fully supported by Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Government at Kabul. Besides, he has strong linkages with Indian spying network, RAW.
After military operations in Swat-2009, he fled to Afghanistan and since then have been directing attacks on innocent people of Pakistan and its security forces. He directed the attack against Malala Yousufzai and also planned and executed the attack, resulted into the killing of Major General Sanaullah Niazi. Upon his election as the head of TTP, the militant organization has rejected any possibility of peace talks with the Government of Pakistan, which previous setup was trying to start with. TTP has also announced to undertake massive attacks in various parts of Pakistan, especially Punjab and capital Islamabad.
This is an established fact that, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a terrorist organization and its former head, Hakimullah Mehsud, killed on November 1, 2013, in a CIA drone attack was a murderer and an enemy of Pakistani nation. All activities of TTP and Hakimullah Mehsud were contradictory to the basic Islamic teaching and so are the activities of new TTP commander. For quite some time, this organization attracted the attention of many people in Pakistan, particularly the masses of remote areas, who were misled about the real motives of this organization.
However, owing to its brutalities, where it killed over 50000 innocent Pakistanis, over the years, the people of Pakistan developed a hate against TTP. The Government however, decided to negotiate with them for bringing an end to the current state of infighting and instability from Pakistan.
To the surprise of millions of Pakistani nationals, many religio-political parties of Pakistan declared Hakimullah Mehsud as a martyr. Not only religious parties, but also, some political parties’ leaders have similar sentiments. This new development has created confusion among the masses that, if people like Hakimullah Mehsud were martyr, then what about those innocent Pakistani who were killed by him and his organization. These people, declaring terrorists as martyr are indeed dividing the nation with strange type of narratives. This is totally undesired and ridiculous on the part of political and religious leadership of Pakistan. The Government, rather becoming a party to it, should have condemned this act of religio-political party heads.
A day following the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, the Federal Interior Minister, Ch Nisar Ali Khan questioned the US role in bringing peace and stability in Pakistan through a dialogue with this militant outfit. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the Interior Minister said; “The government of Pakistan does not see this drone attack as an attack on an individual but as an attack on the peace process. About the timings of the attack, just a day prior to the formal initiations of this process by the Government, he questioned, whether this is the way, US promised to support the peace process, “Can this be called supporting peace initiative?” Pakistan Government has decided to send a peace committee of three religious scholars to talk to the leadership of TTP, just a day earlier to US drone attack that killed Hakimullah Mehsud along with his four associates. This is true that, Hakimullah Mehsud was the most wanted person of CIA, however, killing him at this point and time, has raised many questions about the US motives, which perhaps propelled Pakistani religious and some political circles to sympathise with him and giving him the status of a martyr.
For quite some time, the people of Pakistan had great reservations about the role of external powers in the promotion of militancy and terrorism in the country. The indicator like killing of Hakimullah Mehsud has reinforced these opinions.
In May 2013, the deputy of the Hakimullah Mehsud, Waliur Rehman was also killed in a drone strike, after he was said to have made up his mind to talk to Government for the initiation of a formal peace process. Earlier, the Baitullah Mehsud was killed by CIA drone attack in August 2009. He was also reconciling with the Government, once killed. CIA drones killed many other militant leaders, once they were trying to patch up with the Government of Pakistan. Indeed, as a regular practice, US drones kill only those militants of TTP, who try to disassociate with the terrorism or attempt for a peace deal with the Government.
This has been a continuous phenomenon, ever since the start of terrorism in Pakistan. Indeed, Pakistani rulers have been meeting the same fate, ever since Pak-US relationship was established in 1950s.
Calling the US Ambassador in the Foreign Office to protest against the drone attack and the lofty press conferences are indeed the customary and symbolic acts; undertaken for the satisfaction of the people of Pakistan, as it has been a routine in the past. The real question is; how to proceed ahead with the peace process with the TTP, once its new chief has refused to talk to Government. As expected, the reaction of TTP is totally negative and intransigent. As NATO and US troops are not in their reach, therefore, the militant outfit may resort to enhancing its terrorist acts against the security forces and Government installations as happened in the past.
For the Government of Pakistan, restoration of peace and stability is the most significant step. It, indeed, is the basis of all other developments and improvements, the Government needs to undertake in the days to come. As observed in the last few years, combating the militancy through the military operations has restored peace at a particular area for a particular time, thereafter; the civil administration could not sustain the success, thus, let the comeback of the militants as a compulsion. In a way, military operation and cleansing of the terrorist hit areas through the use of forces is not the permanent solution of the issue. In order to bring a permanent solution of the issue, it was correctly decided by the national leadership through consensus that, the issue needs a permanent solution through negations and peace talks.
As decided by Government, despite, a refusal of peace initiative by new TTP chief, the Government should persuade this militant outfit for the start of negotiations. The Government has to make use of all the resources to convince the new leadership of TTP for the initiation of talks. As far as the announcement of the Ch Nisar Ali Khan that, after the killing of Hakimullh Mehsud, Pakistan will review its relationship with United States, there is a need to take mature and long-term decisions based on national interests of Pakistan.
Why should the Government give undue concessions to United States over the issues of its national interests and sovereignty? Remaining indecisive on these issues and lending too much concession to the US would further destabilize Pakistan. Pakistan has to take firm decisions, whether to continue with the present state of affairs, where this super power has been exploiting and humiliating the Pakistani nation, or get rid of these undyingly.
There is a need for a realistic assessment of the US drone attacks. Whereas, there have been approximately 370 drone attacks in Pakistani territory, killing over 3000 people, the question arise, how many drone attacks CIA has launched in Afghanistan, particularly in areas, where Pakistani militants have taken a refuge. Why US drones could not hit Mullah Fazlullah, the killers of thousands of innocent Pakistani and hiding in US occupied areas in Afghanistan. Rather, as per some Afghan and US analysts, this brutal TTP commander remained admitted in a military hospital in Kabul for the treatment of his injuries, following the Swat-Malakand military operation.
Pakistan is a very vital country in the region. United States and NATO really requires Pakistan’s help for two obvious reasons; Firstly; for bringing stability in Afghanistan for their smooth drawdown, and second, for smooth back loading of their military equipment through Pakistani soil and its seaport. Since Pakistan is providing all out assistance to US on these accounts, US has not been sincere and always acted as a game spoiler. Whenever, there is an atmosphere of peace in Pakistan, US along with its regional partners would dislodge it by any mean.
Currently Pakistan is confronting with two challenges; one domestically and another externally. Domestically, the religious leaders and some political actors are creating a split among the masses by declaring people like Haimullah Mehsud as martyr and terrorist organization, TTP as an Islamic outfit. Externally, the forces in Afghanistan; mainly the Afghan spying network, NDS and its allies; RAW and CIA are abetting, harbouring and financing the TTP terrorists to create instability in Pakistan by enhancing their terrorist acts.
The scenario needs a very careful assessment and a deliberation in finding a way forward. The Government needs to take an honest and strict stock of the situation. It has to act in the favour of Pakistan, rather yielding too much concession to the domestic and external game spoilers, under various political and global compulsions. Let us there be no Pakistani who accept the terrorists and their activities on Pakistani soil. Similarly, those external forces conspiring against the state and society of Pakistan should be dealt with iron hands. Besides, the Government really need to find a linkage between these domestic and external forces for formulating a comprehensive security plan in future.