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Drone Strike on Hakeemullah Mehsud and weird reaction of Pakistani leaders

4 Nov

109437Hakimullah_MehsudPakistani government is in a real fix; civilian leaders are confused over the recent drone strike which killed Hakeemullah Mehsud, TTP commander and Pakistan’s Enemy Number One. They are unable to decide whether the drone which killed the terror prince was a blessing in disguise or an attack on their political asset. In life, the terror chief carried a bounty of Rs 50 million on his head.

In death, he has been instantly turned into a martyr by the leaders who are perceived to be coward and are trading State’s sovereignty with the terrorists in return for a peaceful tenure. The slain terrorist leader had blood of thousands of Pakistani men, women and children and security personnel on his hands. The reaction of political class has baffled everyone, including the foreigners who fail to understand that while the politicos were mysteriously silent on killing of innocent civilians and high-ranking military officials, why are they mourning the death of the chief killer?

Their reaction can be explained in simple words; the current lot of rulers of Pakistan owes their political power to Hakeemullah Mehsud. And this is the time to return the courtesy.

The elections which brought them into power were manipulated, if not rigged as widely believed, by Mehsud. He very generously allowed right-wing parties like PML (N), PTI, JI and JUI (F) to continue with their election campaign peacefully and threatened to bomb election rallies of ANP, MQM and PPP, the liberal parties. They attacked election rallies of these parties and forced them to stay inside giving open field to the parties of their choice. Had it not been the threats and attacks and there was a level-playing field for launching election campaign, the electoral results could have been different.

The right-wingers, immediately after coming into power, decided to pay back. They held an All Parties Conference (APC) in September and elevating the anti-state terrorists to the position of stakeholders in peace, decided to offer them an olive branch. The peace negotiations were to be held when the drone took out Mehsud on November 1, 2013. The Americans were after him as he was wanted by them with a head money of $ five million. He was their Enemy Number One too because of his attacks on American interests and close affiliation with al Qaeda.

After killing of Mehsud in the drone attack, ruling PML (N) has termed it as an attack on peace initiative and has promised to review US-Pak relations, Imran Khan has threatened to block NATO supply routes, JI has branded the slain terrorist leader as a martyr, the clerics of extremists Deobandi Islam have demanded retribution and the public is confused. The people are confused because the very same people mourning the death of one terrorist were never furious over death of tens of thousands innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists.

The questions is; if Mehsud was not killed in drone attack, would he cooperate the government in bringing peace to the country and give up arms to allow the State establish its writ in the area where TTP is holding the territory. The answer is, very unlikely. There are two reasons for being skeptic; one, the preconditions for peace talks like withdrawal of army from FATA and freeing of all criminals belonging to TTP without trial would be unacceptable to any honorable government, and two, it has now been established that TTP was an outfit working as proxy of Pakistan’s adversaries like India and Afghanistan. There is no reason that talks would be held to benefit Pakistan. At least five major terrorist attacks in the run up to so-called peace negotiations bear testimony to the fact that terrorists wanted such talks which could cede territories to them with the assurance that they would not be questioned on making further ingress into Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is under immense pressure to block NATO supplies passing through Pakistan’s GLOC and shoot down the drones. He has convened an extraordinary Cabinet meeting today to deliberate on the issue. The outcome of the meeting is expected to be not more than cheap political rhetoric.

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Time for Imran Khan to learn ABC of statesmanship

15 Sep

ttp-mullahPakistan’s immature and angry politician, Imran Khan has been screaming at the top of his voice demanding to pull out army from terrorists-infested Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). As the decision about FATA rests with the federal government where he is not a decision maker, he has proceeded to implement the demand in his own province. The government of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province ruled by his party has approved phased withdrawal of army from Swat area. Unmoved by his generosity, the terrorists returned the favor by launching attack on a convoy of Pakistan Army killing a major general and a lieutenant in a roadside Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The officers, identified as Major General Sanaullah and Lieutenant Colonel Tauseef, were undertaking a routine patrol and were returning from Pakistan Afghanistan border after meeting the troops deployed on border posts.

The worst fears that Swat Valley was being handed over to Pakistani Taliban through this decision on Saturday were confirmed the very next day. The area is adjacent to Swat district and is a part of the valley where army launched a military operation in 2009 to flush out TTP terrorists under Mulla Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Radio for his fiery speeches through an illegal FM channel. After successful operation, the peace was restored in the area and the terrorists fled to Nuristan province of neighboring Afghanistan. Swat TTP has no means to return to this area except through sympathetic politicians. Emboldened by the cowardice of the politicians, they attacked a military convoy thinking the area will be theirs in next couple of weeks.

Even the FATA terrorists have taken a cue from Imran Khan’s word of support. Their preconditions to come to negotiation table include pulling out of army from tribal areas. The stance of Pakistan’s politicians to appease the terrorists through the offer of dialogue has emboldened them. Though the government did not attach any precondition to dialogue offer like cessation of attacks or laying down the arms, the Pakistani Taliban demanded Sunday that the government release militant prisoners and begin withdrawing troops from the group’s tribal sanctuary before they participate in peace talks, raising doubts about prospects for negotiations. The demand that Pakistan Army be pulled out from FATA, a restive tribal region, was first made by Imran Khan who is also known as Taliban Khan for his sympathies with the terrorists. Pulling out the army would effectively mean that the government has recognized terrorists’ writ in the area they hold as their safe haven. The resolution offering olive branch to terrorists has already been dubbed as an instrument of surrender by analysts.

The puzzling question is; why Imran Khan is making such demands which only favor the enemies of the State? This has not even been demanded by the principal stakeholders of tribal areas; the tribes themselves. They want the state to deliver them from the clutches of TTP and their atrocities. Let’s assume that he has no sympathies for the terrorists and he has his heart for the State of Pakistan. But then the question arises as to why he makes such demands. Is he a spoiler? Or does he need a lesson or two in the fundamentals of statesmanship?

 

Those supporting the cause of terrorists are enemies of the State

14 Sep

APCThe common perception that Pakistani politicians have surrendered to the terrorists is not without a reason. No country has so far tackled the problem of terrorism with olive branch. The very recent example of Sri Lanka’s fight against Tamil terrorists, and their victory, proves that the only way to talk to terrorists is through the barrel of guns. If the State is clear about its objectives, it can tell the spoilers, media, courts, and human rights activists, to go to hell.

Pakistani politicians defending the decision to extend olive branch to anti-Pakistan terrorists largely consist of greedy and coward; those who have no political agenda but they simply do not want to fight and risk their lives. If they have any agenda, it can be summed up very clearly; they simply want to rule, loot and plunder in peace, even if they have to cede a piece of this country to the terrorists. The other type of politicians is religious band of a particular hue. They are supporting the cause of terrorists with a clear objective; they want to finish the unfinished agenda of their spiritual forefathers to undo Pakistan which their forefathers, the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind (JUH) and Deoband had so vehemently opposed. They want to do it through defeating the vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father. The Taliban of all hues are foot soldiers of Deoband’s war against Pakistan.

They hate Jinnah because he was a direct threat to the religious hegemony of clergy which they were enjoying in the Sub-Continent since the age of Muslim monarchs of nearly all dynasties. For them, the corrupt Moghul era was a model for enforcing their type of religious system. The State of Pakistan, to which they lay their claim to rule, was a secular democratic state which they despised. The clergy under JUH was resisting the idea of Pakistan and was an ally of Congress which stood for an undivided India after departure of British rulers. In Jinnah, they saw a hurdle to their rule as he had declared in clear terms that Pakistan would not be a theocratic state. They all, except for an honorable minority under Maulana Thanwi, declared creation of Pakistan as a sin. They still have not accepted Pakistan and their ideological descendants, the TTP, has unleashed their revenge on Quaid’s Pakistan through acts of terror.

What TTP is doing today is, in fact, what their religious forefathers did at the time of creation of Pakistan. The father of Pakistani Taliban, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman had once declared proudly, “Thanks God that we were not partners in the commission of the sin of making of Pakistan”. It is irony of history that the very same anti-Pakistan Mullah now dreams, and can sell his soul to the devil, to become prime minister of the very same Pakistan his forefathers so vehemently opposed.

The TTP terrorists are criminals and not the enemies of the society alone; they are enemies of the State. They are worst that extortionist, target-killers, land-grabbers, bombers and arsonist who the State is fighting in Karachi. These murders have killed, in cold blood, nearly 70,000 Pakistanis. They have the audacity to attack defense personnel and installations and destroy those precious military assets which are a cause of concern to the enemies. Their reasoning and justification for attacking Pakistan are very interesting. They claim they are against the US and drone strikes and attack Pakistan to hurt the Americans. They can find any justification to kill and destroy and yet get away with it, thanks to their sympathizers and active supporters in Pakistani politicians.

People understand, unlike their politicians, that supporter of terrorists are worst enemies of the State.

At this point in time, Pakistan has only one stakeholder, its establishment including the civil and military bureaucracy and intelligence agencies. The Establishment knows fully well that the TTP terrorists are fighting Pakistan at the behest of its enemies in India, Afghanistan and elsewhere. But unfortunately, the Establishment has been reduced to a passive spectator. They have failed to convince the opportunist politicians that the only way to fight terrorists is with full might of the State.

The careless attitude of politicians about fighting this crucial war brings home another sad fact; Pakistan is not in safe hands. Be it the ruling party or the playboy-turned-philanthropist-turned-politicians or the terrorists’ religious proxy in politics, everyone has his own agenda which is in direct conflict with national interests. The threat perception is further strengthened by the silence of those who enjoy the trust of the nation and who have a responsibility to protect the country from internal and external threats.

 

Courts and media should be made to understand that Pakistan is at war

10 Aug

NSPakistan is in the grip of terrorism of unprecedentedly escalated proportion. The fundamental objective of escalated activities of the terrorists is to arm-twist the political leadership to bring them to negotiating table and enforce the conditions of their choice. The political leadership is so confused that it has not even outlined the draft of a Counter-terrorism Strategy. Two of the three political parties ruling Pakistan are known for their sympathies for the terrorists being oblivious of the fact that TTP, LeJ and BLA are operating against the state of Pakistan from their bases in Afghanistan and funded and aided by India and anti-Pakistan international establishment.

Terrorism in Pakistan is not new of its kind; we have seen terrorism in South Asian region and the way it was fought and eliminated. The most brilliant example is that of Sri Lanka which fought Tamil terrorists, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or Tamil Tigers (LTTE) for a decade. Originally belonging to India’s Tamil Nadu state, Tamils were brought to Sri Lanka by the British as expatriate workers and were a minority against the Sinhala majority. While Sinhala professed Buddhism, Tamils were predominantly Hindus. The Tamil insurgency was originally sponsored by Indian establishment but when it withdrew support, Tamils killed Rajiv Gandhi in a suicide attack.

By all standards, LTTE insurgency was massive keeping in view the size of security forces of Sri Lanka. But the way Sri Lanka countered it with matching response; we have yet to see in Pakistan. Sri Lankan armed forces are no match to those of Pakistan both in professional excellence, equipment, commitment and size. Yet, Pakistan has not been able to control terrorism because political governments lacked the courage to and are constantly busy in undermining the security establishment rather than strengthening them.

The military and political analyses of success of Sri Lanka in eliminating the menace of terrorism, carried out by various think tanks, converge on focusing the attention of fighting it heads-on. Pakistan can learn a lesson or two when it has started thinking about formulating a National Security Strategy.

The first lesson is that military action against the enemies of the state should be focused and all criticism of clergy, HR activists and the populist courts playing to the galleries should be ignored, if not out rightly rejected. Sri Lanka adopted the strategy of telling domestic and international critics to go to hell and concentrated on the job of completely eradicating the terrorism.

No respectable government will ever enter into peace negotiations with criminals and those fighting against the state. The befitting response is negotiations through the barrel of the gun the nation buys through hard-earned income of tax payers. This is the easiest way of dealing with the insurgents and terrorists but it also amounts to ceding the space to the criminals. Negotiations and cease-fire in fact provide terrorists a golden opportunity to regroup and strengthen themselves. One of the success factors of Sri Lankan counter-terrorism was, and a lesson for Pakistan is, the policy of no-negotiations and no cease-fire.

Mass media is an effective weapon used by enemies and, particularly the terrorists, to defeat the armies. This is fourth generation warfare (4GW) and if media of the country starts building negative perception about own army and positively project the terrorists’ viewpoint, no country can win war against terrorists. This is exactly what’s happening in Pakistan. Everyone knows that BLA terrorists are operating under the sponsorship of a neighboring country but a section of Pakistani media projects them as disgruntled youth against “atrocities” of Pakistan army. The terrorists get public approval through media and Sri Lankan government was mindful of this fact. They muzzled the media in the best national interest and properly regulated it so that misdeeds of the terrorists do not get glorified. In order to fight against militancy, state institutions need to keep a check on the media to see their source of funding and their connections. Proper regulation of media is the third best lesson Pakistan can learn from Sri Lanka.

Fighting enemies of the state is the domain of armies in every country. When a country is at war, its armed forces should have total operational freedom and their conduct of war should not be allowed to be hampered by courts and politicians. This is a golden lesson that Pakistan should learn from Sri Lanka.

 

 

Who rules KPK; Terrorists or PTI?

30 Jul

DIKThe shameless politicians of Pakistan have the audacity to blame intelligence agencies for their own failures. This was evident in the classic case of attack on DI Khan jail where the police virtually facilitated the attack yet the chief minister is adamant that his hands are clear and neither he nor his government was responsible in what could be termed as one of the worst jailbreaks in the history of the world.

According to various news sources, TTP terrorists attacked the Central Jail in Dera Ismail Khan on Monday night and freed more than 200 terrorists besides killing a handful of prisoners and security staff. DI Khan is a major city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province and is close to South Waziristan Agency. The attackers sixty in number, who moved and charged unnoticed by the local police, overpowered security personnel deployed at the prison who did not even make an effort to offer resistance. According to initial investigations, the first prison gate was destroyed by the attackers equipped with hand grenades and automatic weapons, but the other two gates were let open by security personnel. The police personnel who were responsible for security of the prison’s outside building were not present at the time of attack and arrived there four-and-a-half hours later. It seems that the first and second defence lines of the jail offered no resistance leaving no room for the army to engage the attackers to protect the prison.

This is a clear example of collapse of governance in a province which is ruled by Imran Khan’s PTI who is perceived to be a sympathizer of the terrorists. The fact that intelligence agencies had forewarned the government of the imminent attack and there was no preparation to meet it head-on only substantiates the fact that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa administration was totally incompetent. As usual, the Chief Minister, Pervez Khattak attributed his government’s failure to intelligence agencies. This is a poor case of passing the buck on.

This could be an inside help provided to the attackers which would suggest that terrorists have not only ingress in the political hierarchy, but also the lowest level of administration. This would indeed, be very dangerous and would amount to ceding the entire province to the terrorists.

Related stories:

ALLVOICESDI Khan jail break shows governance in KPK of Pakistan has totally collapsed

Why everyone is out to claim responsibility for Sukkur ISI attack?

25 Jul

SukkurIn a brilliant move to distract the public attention from the real perpetrators of Sukkur suicide attack on ISI office, various terrorist organizations have been tasked to claim responsibility and further confuse the public opinion on who could have done it. Social media is abuzz with the theory that the real target of the attack was some major of ISI identified as Zeeshan who is said to be in possession of some sensitive documents containing evidence of involvement of foreign intelligence agencies in terrorism in Pakistan. The terrorists, as per this theory, wanted to destroy the evidence. Major Zeeshan was killed in the attack.

There was no immediate call to take the responsibility after the attack as is the norm in such cases. Interestingly, various people called media houses a day after the attack to claim that they were the actual perpetrators. A Taliban commander told The Express Tribune on Thursday that the deadly attack was orchestrated by the elements of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) based in Mohmand tribal region and the Taliban faction in Punjab. It was their joint venture. The commander disputed the claim by a splinter faction of the Taliban, which also claimed responsibility for the same attack.

Separately, a man named Ahmed Marwat, who introduced himself as the spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Jundullah Group) had called various media persons to claim responsibility for the attack. Marwat had claimed that the attack was revenge for the death of TTP deputy chief Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan tribal region in May. He said the group had sent four bombers to “achieve the target.”

Now there is a conflict of claims between two outfits, Jundullah, Pakistan and TTP. The Jundullah group had earlier claimed responsibility for the attack on security forces but TTP former spokesperson, Ehsanullah Ehsan, denied the association of Jundullah group with the Taliban.

Now this is an interesting development. First the stated motive of the attack is highly questionable, if not laughable. The terrorists claim that the attack was in retaliation of the death of Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud in a US drone attack. Everyone knows that ISI does not operate drones and is, in fact, against the drone strikes. How can militants take revenge from ISI for an act which was perpetrated by the mighty Americans? Then there are rumors that the coordinates of the whereabouts of Mehsud were given to the Americans by the hard core TTP themselves to have Mehsud, another contender to the slot of TTP head, eliminated. This is frivolous excuse and points the finger to Pakistan’s enemies who have perpetrated this and every attack on civilians and security forces.

But the conflict of the claim is even more interesting. Jundullah or BLA or even TTP and all its factions are being directed by one coordinator sitting somewhere in Afghanistan. Pakistani authorities should exactly know the center of gravity of Pakistan-specific terrorism. The evidence available so far points out that India is spearheading the campaign to destabilize Pakistan through attacking security forces, innocent civilians and through the game of perception using media houses and funding them with generous handouts.

 

With sympathetic judiciary and sold-out media anchors, terrorists have a field day in Balochistan

15 Jun

ziaratPakistan’s restive province of Balochistan is on fire again with increased intensity in the activities of militants of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Two terrorist incidents on Saturday have posed serious questions about political stability of the province after a populist government headed by a commoner has been installed only last week. The first incident was destruction through rocket attacks of Ziarat Residency, a building in scenic pine forests about 75 miles from provincial capital, Quetta. This building is of historical monument and Pakistanis have special emotional attachment to this building because the Founding Father, Jinnah spent his last days here.

In another incident, at least eleven female students were killed and several others injured when a blast hit a bus near Quetta’s Women University on Baruri road. According to police, explosives were planted inside the bus parked on the premises of the university. Another 22 people had been injured in the blast with some of them in critical condition. This attack comes hours after militants attacked Quaid-e-Azam residency in Ziarat area of Balochistan. According to reports, a larger portion of the building was destroyed in the attack.

Attackers of the Quaid-e-Azam Residency in Zairat are reported to have removed the Pakistan flag and replaced it with the flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). According to Interior ministry report presented in the National Assembly on Saturday, there was firing and five explosions at the Qauid-e-Azam Residency at approximately 1:15 AM. Following the attack, the historic building was completely burnt and the fire was extinguished after a four hour struggle. District Police Officer (DPO) said that six bombs were also recovered from the site of the incident. He said that each bomb weighed 2 to 3 kilograms.

The BLA is alleged to have been sponsored by Pakistan’s archrival, India and its leaders have been provided asylum in Switzerland and UK. It has some local sympathizers too as Pakistan Supreme Court chief judge Chaudhary, himself hailing from Balochistan has repeatedly provided relief to them and rebuked the security forces for chasing them. Judge Chaudhary was a personal favorite and lawyer of slain tribal leader Bugti whose grandsons are leading BLA. One of them was caught red-handed smuggling a huge cache of arms and ammunition but was released on the orders of the judge. Another sympathizer of the separatists is a host of a popular talk show of a leading news channel. His late father was recently honored by Bangladesh’s pro-India regime for supporting the cause of India-funded insurgency in East pakistan in 1971. This is the reason that security agencies want Balochistan to be a No-Go area for the apex court.

After the May 11 elections, it was hoped that Balochistan might stabilize but the decision of Nawaz Sharif to appoint a popular leader as chief minister may have irked the BLA separatists because he is not a tribal chief while Balochistan government has so far been under the tribal chiefs who have received hundreds of billions of development funds and syphoned them off to their personal coffers depriving the common man of the benefits of development.

Courtesy: ALLVOICES