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enter image description hereNearly two years and two days after US Special Forces sneaked across the border into Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden, President Obama had a message for Pakistanis. In a speech at the National Defense University on May 23, 2013, President Obama acknowledged in his most public statement ever, that the incursion into Pakistan had imposed a cost on the United States. ‘Such interventions cannot be the norm” the president said as part of laying out his new counter-terrorism strategy. He insisted that the only reason the bin Laden raid had been so successful in Pakistan was not simply luck and the meticulous planning of the Special Operation Forces, but also the fact that the United States had a ground presence next door in Afghanistan. In underscoring these dynamics, President Obama emphasized that what had worked once could not thus become a part of the American counter-terrorism strategy.

The messages for Pakistanis, who were mentioned again and again, as the foremost victims of terror, as righteously concerned about incursions on their territory, as understandably fed up of the cost the War on Terror has wrought on them was clear, there would be no more large military led operations. The Obama Administration would like to defeat terror with a variety of tactics, with the use of ideological tools to counter the effects of extremism, investment in development and less frequent and more targeted use of unmanned drones. The questions are tough, Obama acknowledged and the answers hence diverse and multifaceted, and not at all simple.

As far as Pakistanis are concerned, the admissions of complexities and costs are indeed welcome, but they arrive a little, actually two years too late. In the two years since the 2011 Osama bin Laden raid occurred in Abbottabad, Pakistanis who may have been then moderately anti-American, have since become virulently so. Those once ambivalent about drone attacks and their efficiency have made up their mind paying in disrupted lives the cost of a conflict whose parameters and targets are all decided elsewhere and without their input. The war has spread from the far flung areas that were easy to forget into Pakistani cities – into Karachi and Quetta, into the lives of doctors, shopkeepers and construction workers alike. The death tolls from attacks and retaliations and counter attacks have gone from hundreds to thousands.

So acknowledgement or not the choice before Pakistan was never a good one. The United States delegitimised the Pakistani state by continuing its onslaught of drone strikes year after year. Unheeded by both Parliamentary resolutions that denied any tacit agreement on drones and the statements of UN Rapporteurs calling them illegal; the Predators continued to fly, releasing Hellfire missiles over Pakistani territory and treating Pakistani borders as arbitrary impediments to American strategy.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan also continued its attack on the Pakistani state, targeting, security check posts and judicial institutions, health workers and police stations. Anything and everything associated with the Pakistani state was fair game; and the presence of civilians was no deterrent. The Tehreek-e-Taliban made the same point as the Americans, that the Pakistani state was not able to protect its own people, that their invasive capacity to kill was greater than the government’s capacity to protect and that the writ of the state simply did not apply.

On May 11, 2013 Pakistanis went to the ballot box amid bombings and threats and lack of infrastructure and rigging and a plethora of problems that would deter most baby democracies; and they voted. When the votes were counted, after the recounts and some re-elections; the mandate was clear. Pakistan had elected two parties, both of which had promised and continue to promise making peace with the Taliban. If the battle was between two different forces both of which, were effectively engaged in undermining the Pakistani state; it seemed that the Pakistani voter had chosen the Taliban as the lesser of two evils; as the possible partner in compromise.

The parameters for the upcoming peace deals, the concessions and capitulations on which they will be wrought are yet unknown. It is not known for example if women will completely be banned from obtaining an education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or just limited to a fifth-grade education. It is not known if the existing laws on Pakistan’s books which allow minorities to be persecuted with the ease of the most baseless of accusations will be added to by new laws which accomplish even greater injustices courtesy of a Taliban tailored peace. None of this is known, but it is known that as far as the Pakistani people’s mandate is concerned, the cost of American drones, raids and meddling has meant that in the worst choice to ever befall them, they have turned down the United States and taken up talks with the Taliban.

Author Image

Rafia Zakaria is an attorney and human rights activist. She is a columnist for DAWN Pakistan and a regular contributor for Al Jazeera America, Dissent, Guernica and many other publications.

She is the author of The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan (Beacon Press 2015). She tweets @rafiazakaria

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (91) Closed

shankar May 24, 2013 02:39pm

Pakistan has turned down US and taken to talks with Taliban. Sad, but true! We can only hope and pray that Pakistan has chosen wisely!

Afnan Ahmed May 24, 2013 02:47pm

Very nicely written and aptly put!

ebrahim May 24, 2013 02:51pm

Can we target Altaf husain in London or any other misceant taking refuge in USA!

Hg May 24, 2013 03:17pm

Don't forget the PPP made the initial mistake of making peace with the Taliban and it cost our Nation dearly. I suspect any new talks with them will be rather different to the ones held by the party on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Capt C M Khan May 24, 2013 03:22pm

Rafia I am going to diagree with your article. Maybe Dawn will not publish it but I will still comment. Pakistani people DONOT want to negotiate with the killer of 70000 Pakistanis. These elections were MOST UNFAIR & MANUPILATED yet. TTP/LEJ/LT turned into KINGMAKERS and bombed the other parties and independent candidates so only those parties can hold Rallies etc without any fear who TTP etc support. Sad very sad not TTP is going to be HONOURED and will become a stakeholder in Pakistan.

AR May 24, 2013 03:28pm

Let us hope these talks and ultimately a peace agreement takes us back to the era when there was no suicide blast, girls could go to school and polio vaccination had no obstacles. Yes the very era when we were not part of this "war on terror".

zia khan May 24, 2013 03:36pm

The Americans are constantly violating the sovereignty of Pakistan. Bush forced Pakistan into war on terror. Obama approved abbottabad raid and freely used drones in Pakistan killing innocent people with immunity. After using and abusing Pakistan, America is working for a major Indian role in post war Afghanistan & also entered into strategic partnership with India. Musharraf and PPP government are responsible for making Pakistan a lame duck. Hopefully, PMLN government will take an honorable position on drones. Obama killed Osama for victory in election but with Osama he also killed his victorious exit from Afghanistan. Americans have lost their trust for ever & Pakistan must look elsewhere in the region for trustworthy friends.

Ranga May 24, 2013 03:46pm

Making peace with Taliban - at what cost? If women are expected to go back to or remain in the 14th century, that cannot be a deal. If a newly elected government has to kow tow to terrorists - who dont fight elections but unleash violence to prevent elections - what is the use of such elections? Either the Pakistani state must fight and eliminate terrorists from their soil or take help from others to achieve such a goal. If they try to make peace and compromise with terrorists they have already lost their power got from the ballot. It is foolhardy to correlate preelection promises to post election challenges in a third world country. Most politicians rarely keep their election promises after they win.

Alexander May 24, 2013 03:56pm

Which country does Pakistan like in reality? The author stating Pakistanis hate USA..but do they like Europeans, Indians and Iranians?

zia khan May 24, 2013 04:17pm

@Capt C M Khan: people of Pakistan have voted out the corrupt governments on performance basis. Taliban played havoc in the country but those who came to vote did not vote for PPP, ANP and other losers. Americans are also interested in holding talks with Taliban and some groundwork has already been done. Why should Pakistan not hold talks with Pakistani Taliban? Musharraf created the mess and PPP government mishandled it. I hope that PMLN and PTI will be able to restore peace in the region.

Amir May 24, 2013 04:53pm

Now with the the injection of USD 15 bn aid / loan coming from Saudi Arabia, isn't the picture becoming clearer?

The future of the minorities as you quite rightly point out is looking bleaker than ever before. But then, those who champion the cause of human rights and its poor record in Pakistan is also USA. So how does it all gell in?

Eddied May 24, 2013 05:34pm

I welcome the new governments attempt to talk with the Taliban...lets get this started soon because I also think that the TTP will never agree to give up their barbaric jihadi ways and once this is clear to everyone then they can finally be identified as the real enemy of Pakistan that they are...the west is not and has never been the enemy of islam or is the enemy of extremists who blow up schools, attack children and hate freedom...Pakistan has to decide if they are going to support the extremists or support freedom and peace...

ajit kundu May 24, 2013 06:40pm

simply well stated and beautiful....Pakistan never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity

Iqbal May 24, 2013 06:45pm

Paradigm used in this article to show that Pakistanis voted instead for Parties welcoming talks with Taliban is not completely correct. As imminent a threat extremism is to the Pakistani state, most people voted for the parties they did because they promised progress, development and not the rampant corruption done by the last government of PPP. That's how I decided it and I am sure that's how most decided too as well. Terrorism has caused at the end of day in terms of pure financial terms is no match to what the government has achieved with their thugs of ministers and parliamentarians.

bubba May 24, 2013 07:05pm

The USA didn't delegitimize Pakistan by using drones - that occurred when Pakistan allowed almost half of it's country to fall under the control of the Taliban. The USA never wanted to use drones - it asked it's ally to eliminate the sanctuaries even offering to provide troops on the ground to fight these terrorist side by side with Pakistan soldiers. You turned down the offer to fight together and elected to take American money with the promise that it would be used to fight these terrorist. Eventually the American's came to the conclusion that you were more interested in the money that eliminating the terrorist - hence the use of drones.

The solution to drones hasn't changed over the years - eliminate the sanctuaries - take control of all of your territory - provide all Pakistani's with the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities.

bubba May 24, 2013 07:12pm

It's a common belief that all the bombings and acts of terrorism are associated with America's WOT - but if you track the violence you will discover that the nexus for the escalation of terrorism was the attack on the Red Mosque - an event that America had zero to do with. Your battle has and will continue to be with forces that want Sharia and are opposed to Democracy.

Bangash May 24, 2013 07:29pm

@AR That is wishful thinking. The TTP is run by ideology and cannot survive in peace. They will violate these agreements just like all previous agreements and destruction.

nasreentufail May 24, 2013 07:29pm

Rafia zakria this is a good article. The residents can assess better than foreigners the solutions of their problems. Country and countrymen lost peace and prosperity in this war. In such critical situation others should leave the regime and public to decide them. Foreigners can stop war; this will be their well wish for all of us. Amin.

Lakhkar Khan May 24, 2013 07:35pm

@zia khan: Zia,

Easy to said than done. Talk is cheap. Campaign slogans and promises are very attractive but implementation is a different animal.

Clock is ticking and we are waiting for peace.....

Lakhkar Khan May 24, 2013 07:41pm


The definition of insanity is do the same thing over and over and expect different results. We been through that route before. Peace was made by ANP government with these barbarians and was broke by the "Taliban". That's what triggered Swat operation. These barbarians are nothing but mass murderers.

Imran A. May 24, 2013 07:43pm

I say we take the 15 billion injection from Saudi, give it to China to help us revive our energy needs. Continue with the Gas pipe line with Iran and tell Saudi Arabia to send it's delegates to negotiate with Taliban on our behalf. Lets enforce Sharia Law to an area where Taliban decide will be their home. If Saudi is only giving us this money to indirectly support Taliban... then I have a problem with this aid. I would rather take aid from India and buy weapons to go to war against them.

AB Uzair May 24, 2013 07:51pm

@shankar: You are right, Shankar. But this happened because the converse (siding with the US and tackling the Taliban militarily) has not worked at all. It has spread the menace of militancy in other parts of the country. However, the talks will only work if they agree to lay down their arms (which I don't think every Taliban faction would be ready to do).

BRR May 24, 2013 07:52pm

Under stress, people take an easy way out. That is what the Pakistanis have done - vote for friends of the Taliban, expecting them to have some influence so as to mitigate he horrors. However, the beast called Taliban will be emboldened, and see this election as a surrender of the people to the rightwing / conservative cause. What comes next? More demands to enforce the Sharia - which means girls stay home, women have no liberties or education, and men also get flogged.

waft May 24, 2013 08:27pm

The point is when you breed monsters, you can't get rid of them by asking nicely.

Makael Kakakhel May 24, 2013 08:34pm

"if women will completely be banned from obtaining an education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or just limited to a fifth-grade education"

The esteemed writers is an educated and well informed person. The above statement was shows nothing but malicious intent, because both PTI and JI are parties, who's biggest priority is the education of the masses.

The people of KPK should be given due credit for choosing substance over words. All those so called liberal and enlightened (PPP and ANP) parties have destroyed the country, robbing the people of the basic right to security and safe living.

As far as talking to the Taliban is concerned, one must not forget that they are from us, among us and we have to deal with them, today or tomorrow. I don't agree with their brand of Islam or policies, but we have to sit down and talk the matter out, instead of bombing each other to extinction.

The policy of war did not work and now its time for diplomacy to work. The people of KPK and Pakistan are now enlightened enough to know, what is best for them. And they have proven that with coming out in record numbers to cast their vote. They do not need some liberal PHD think tank financed by US money to advise them.

asim May 24, 2013 08:57pm

@Eddied: It is a sad and broad day light fact that West considers Islam as a threat to their way of life. For them only good Muslim is a dead Muslim . Any where in the world. There is no distinction between a peaceful and law abiding Muslim and a disillusioned one extremist. All Muslim are on the same boat and you can not hide this heinous fact through beautiful buzz world.

Want a proof? just visit todays news on Yahoo about slaying of British soldier and go through the comments. You will have a virulent taste. You won't see similar comments about Christianity when a westerner commit a similar heinous crime.

aaa May 24, 2013 08:57pm

As a pakistani alli can say is that do whatever you need just get peace kpk government.

Imran May 24, 2013 09:37pm

Sadly the Pakistani people have capitulated to the monstrosity known as the TTP. TTP and their likes threatened and bombed any political party who spoke up against their barbarity. Now they have gained territory in the form of political parties (PML-N and PTI) who are willing to accommodate them no matter how horrendous their tactics may be.

One could imagine the future Pakistan. Just like Saudi Arabia without oil (money) and ten times the population. Wow, what an ideal combination!

Guest May 24, 2013 09:53pm

In your view, you mean. I doubt that the Pakistanis saw this as a choice between the Taliban and the US. They were fed up with the PPP--it's as simple as that. In the last analysis, 18 hours of load shedding on scorching days, unprecedented inflation, closure of industry and rampant corruption are bigger concerns for Pakistanis than the Talibs or the US drones.

Urfi May 24, 2013 09:56pm

@Eddied: We Pakistanis know that TTP and others like them are the real enemies of Pakistan. however we don't know if USA (and WEST by extension) is a real friend to Pakistan and Islam. We have not seen any evidence of it! US IS ALL ABOUT IT'S OWN INTERESTS. US continues to violate Pakistan's sovereignty, US continues to kill Pakistani civilians coldheartedly, US does not allow Pakistan to take care of their problem, they disregard the internal political problems that Pakistan has to deal with because of their "friendly" incursions and continued bombing. US never apologizes. You must understand, the US does not look like a true friend to Pakistan. It is easier to negotiate with an enemy who is an open enemy, because we know where we both stand. On the other hand, US is two faced - friendly in appearance, enemy in actions. We understand that US is like that because it is looking after it's own interests and not after Pakistan's interest.

jerseybb May 24, 2013 11:00pm

A woman(the writer) is kind of supporting the idea of talks with taleban, this is a little heart wrenching. You and your kind gender are going to be the first victim if they talks are "successful"

Nadeem Qureshi May 24, 2013 11:21pm

Let us not make this an 'either this or that' discussion. It is not so simplistic. We are not living in Bush's 'with us or against us' world, and it wouldn't have been that kind of a world, if Musharraf had a bit of a spine rather than mere jelly connected to his head.

Pakistan needs to turn down US involvement in Pakistan at every level, yet at the same time this does not and must not constitute a leaning in towards the TTP.

The TTP have killed and murdered Pakistanis with impunity, and they must be treated just like the criminals they are. No compromises with them. They put down their weapons and surrender or face the full might of the Pakistani nation. We cannot be held to ransom by a few thugs, who represent no-one except themselves, and anti-state elements beyond our borders. Just where have they been getting the firepower to stand up to a professional army? This is no conspiracy theory - plain facts.

Whatever manner the Pakistani nation decides to grapple with this monster of USA's making, we want no part of the USA in our affairs. We have paid enough of a price, and then quite a lot more for being US allies. I hope we never ever form an alliance with US again - whatever the challenges might be which we face in future.

We need to form alliances on equal and honorable terms, and the cornerstone of every alliance must be that our dignity, our sovereignty will be treated not just with respect but with reverence. If not, we will always be better off without any such alliances.

The Pakistani nation rejects not one of the US and the Taliban, but both of them, and vehemently so. Let there not be any doubt about this.

Abdussamad May 24, 2013 11:55pm

Once the Americans withdraw the Taliban will shift their focus to Afghanistan. Pakistan will no doubt support them and the Taliban will eventually takeover Afghanistan. So it won't hurt to get on good terms with the future leaders of our neighbouring country.

The big question is whether they will continue their campaign of terror in Pakistan? If they do then negotiations won't help. The only way to defeat them is militarily but not with a massive army. Instead you have to small groups of special forces personnel backed by good intelligence. That is how Sri Lanka attacked the leaders of the LTTE.

Maw May 25, 2013 12:02am

PTI's approach makes the most sense to me. Disengage, isolate and remove. They know KPK better than all of us and better than many "esteemed" Dawn columnists.

Goldy May 25, 2013 01:09am

One quick question: Use of DRONE is bad. Even if Pakistani army uses it?

darr May 25, 2013 02:29am

Pakistanis have not turned down USA or taken up talks with the Talibans, In reality they have tuned down both by participating in elections .They are trying to take there own life back They have shown courage that they can handle worst circumstances in the process of evolving into a democratic nation. Little bit of extra courage by saying NO to any type of AID will cure Pakistan from AIDS. Saudi Arabia can participate with investment in Pakistan but NO AIDS please.

AAJ May 25, 2013 03:41am

Pakistan can talk to the Taliban all it wants, and they will do what they have always done. Use the time given for talks to resupply and rearm, and concede little on paper and nothing in reality. The only hope for Pakistan is to take these fundamental steps: 1) Move the Armed Forces from the border with India and deploy them in well equipped, highly trained, highly mobile units all across the tribal areas. India wants nothing to do with Pakistani territory and certainly cannot afford to annex millions of non-loyal citizens into the country. 2) Abandon the falsehood that 'Islamic law' is any kind of justice. 3) Work towards a secular government that actually responds to the needs of the people. Reject theocracy as a failed credo. 4) Reduce military spending over the long run and spend the money on education, infrastructure, power, the judiciary and the police. Make Justice the primary purpose of the state, not defense.

In Pakistan, these things are absolutely necessary and absolutely impossible. Good luck.

Waziri Troll May 25, 2013 05:48am

When are we going to drop the pretense that the Americans are unilaterally using drones? It is now well documented that the drone attack has had the Army's support since Day One.

Think about... all the IDPs, the collateral damage, the traumatised children, the orphans, and families vaporised, all that because of our Army.

Danish A. May 25, 2013 06:41am

Talks with the taliban? I know the majority of Pakistanis are not the sharpest tool in the shed, but really, talks with the taliban? Not a month ago, Taliban were blowing up innocents because they opposed democratic elections. How do you talk to or negotiate with such a point of view? The only way they will be happy is if we subject ourselves to their primitive views. There is no negotiation with such a group. Taliban and other religious extremist groups are the new colonizers of Pakistan. There is simply no room for debates or negotiations with the Taliban, we must eradicate them at all costs. Such steps are necessary to protect Pakistan of Jinnah from becoming that of Bin Laden.

observer May 25, 2013 08:11am

Let me ask you one question honestly: All things considered, would you rather your children have their futures in the United States or in the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan? Given the choice, I doubt a single Pakistani voter would choose the latter.

Jalaluddin S. Hussain May 25, 2013 08:45am

The wheels of history cannot be reversed. Peace treaty with the retrogressive forces of Taliban will not stop female education in Pakistan.

SHAH May 25, 2013 08:50am

There is no need to talk to Taliban they are just following orders from outside. Pakistani government should talk to agencies who are providing them explosives, latest arms, training and funds to continue this war against Pakistan.

malik May 25, 2013 09:54am

I always wonder about the agenda of talks with Talibans. Can someone tell me any starting point on which these negotiations will be based on? Their founder Maulana Sami ul haq said the other day that talibans are his kids and the responsibiltiy for 50000 dead lies on Paki govt. Well if that is a start then it is a non start. End of negotiations. Seems like we have to just lose and gain nothing from this futile exercise.

p r sharma May 25, 2013 01:19pm

" Pakistan had elected two parties, both of which had promised and continue to promise making peace with the Taliban. If the battle was between two different forces both of which, were effectively engaged in undermining the Pakistani state; it seemed that the Pakistani voter had chosen the Taliban as the lesser of two evils; as the possible partner in compromise."

Author has assumed that the voters have chosen the parties which are willing to talk with Taliban. this is not a preference at all. the reason are more of anti incumbency, choice for young blood ( less/ zero corrupt), better governance. Energy crisis, employment woes, and education and health services were more important issues focussed in the agenda to implement. . Choice of those two parties never mean acceptance of Taliban/ Extremists and their version of Islamic ideology. if the assumptions are incorrect , the conclusion is bound to be wrong/different.

Mazhar May 25, 2013 01:27pm

It is the bad governance, corruption, lack of delivery, economic down turn, electricity failures which mainly influenced the Pakistani voters in Punjab. But in KPK along with these things, any efforts which can bring peace and stability (including taliban talk) factors have contributed to PTI & MLN mandate. USA and Pakistan have already tested aggressive approach against taliban, which has not been fully successful. There is no harm to talk to them. Because ultimately, it will be a political solution to this problem.

Jamal May 25, 2013 02:55pm

@Goldy : I don't think Pakistanis would object to the US army or CIA using drones in the US. They shouldn't violate the territory of other independent nations

Jamal May 25, 2013 02:57pm

@Goldy : Pakistanis would not object to the US using drones in the US. They shouldn't drone other countries

Shehzad May 25, 2013 03:00pm

I disagree with your analysis, its not a simple matter of selection pro TTP party infact but simple math. PTI is relative new and will take time to establish, PPP ruled for 5 years with little or no achievement which leaves the field open for PML.

Also I disagree with you statement "Pakistani voter had chosen the Taliban as the lesser of two evils" If anything Pakistani voter will tell you Taliban are not lesser evils but only way deal with them is to apease them not to antagonise them atleast until we have a good domestic plan to deal with it.

Kashif Jan May 25, 2013 03:03pm

absolutely spot on. for all those who have an issue, please accept we have a democratic set up coming up and people have chosen dialogue over continued fight. Its like us complaining against palestinians choosing hamas over Fatah - well we have to accept people choice and in 5 years time if they are unsuccessful we will have a chance to elect someone else.

Amjad Sheikh May 25, 2013 04:04pm

@observer: You are talking theoretically. Yes, if people have the choice, they would chose to live in US, but they don't and that is the reality. On that premise, the writer make a good argument.

Kashiff May 25, 2013 04:38pm

@Shehzad: Once you try to appease an aggressor you will always be their slaves and under their blackmailing forever. It should never be thought of as a temporary fix.

ZAB did something similar way back in 1974 and we've never been out of the grip of the mullahs, have we? Politicians, public and media are simply too scared and dare not say anything on the subject let alone put an effort or a crusade to revoke the disgusting action.

Muhammad Asif May 25, 2013 05:20pm

@observer: I strongly reject both of your options. I will opt for a modern progressive Islamic Republic of Pakistan, our Pakistan, not American slave and not of Taliban!

adam shakoor May 25, 2013 05:47pm

Heres hoping the majority of the Pak population will be able to live, with at least the minimum of respect. Given that the government once again has made promises. Who actually cares about the man on the street? when will the authorities learn, when will they be held accountable?

Allah is the One.

Rajiv Kaushal May 25, 2013 07:17pm

There is a lot of noise about drones... i can assure you guys if pakistan had drones, they would have at least struck twice as many in these areas compared to USA as this whole region is out of control and drones are really effective... Everything else is useless cry... i don't see a single person come out and say Why Pakistan has to use f-16 within its own territory.. have you ever heard US striking with fighter planes inside US.. drones are much smaller and less dangerous than those... i am not saying it was wrong for Pakistan to use them but thing is why not government come out and say to people that its necessary and we need it... people would understand.... after all govt. it letting it happen as it knows they are productive

Rajiv Kaushal May 25, 2013 07:17pm

@SHAH: Why not take help of USA and help them strike right places with drone.. what is wrong with it... it just helps pakistan much more than sending real soldiers to the dangerous places...

Guest May 25, 2013 07:30pm

@Jamal: Yes you are right. So you mean it would be OK if they arm your defense forces to carry out the raids and do the work for them, in YOUR country?

Ron May 25, 2013 07:39pm

I think the vote was very courageous for the People of Pakistan under such brutal attacks from all sides which the State of Pakistan knows clearly who they are. Pakistan has chosen to be closer friends with China and hence got it's security, and rejected other lesser friendships. I think the future is bright and prosperous, verily after every difficulty is relief.

Guest May 25, 2013 07:40pm

Ms Zakari what do you think the TTP will want when they sit on the table for discussion? I am sure when the sit for discussion they will not talk weather, cricket, or movies. The government will ask them to stop the terrorism, and lieu of that, what should TTP expect from the govt? The public has the right to know let the discussion be televised.

Naseer May 25, 2013 08:53pm

It is sad to interpret a rigged election as a victory for Taliban. Can we forget or forgive the innocent deaths of thousands of Pakistani's by Taliban. Ask the families of shaheeds. Does constitution or laws of Pakistan allow killers to be left scott free? Will Supreme court of Pakistan and honorable Chief Justice allow this to happen?

Alami Musafir May 25, 2013 09:33pm

Rafia softens the blow on US sensibilities by using "the worst choice ever to befall them". The truth is that if Pakistani leaders had said NO to US requests to attack the mythological "Al Qaeda" in AfPak right at the start, over a decade ago, Pakistan would not have suffered all this pain and dislocation. Their stupidity is inexcusable given the fact that the Taliban's reach and power grows daily and that it threatens the very existence of Pakistan.

Sadly military leaders lack the guile of politicians. They are unable to foresee the full consequences of their military campaigns. The solution to this problem is to expand the training of staff officers into studying politics and intrigue (the carrot) and to try them for incompetence if they fail, as they have presently done (the stick).

As far as the present is concerned, the sooner Pakistan is shot of the US and its suicidal (for Pakistan) policies, the better. It is high time to cut our losses and staunch the hemmorhage. It is extremely hard to see what are the benefits to Pakistan of this master-slave relationship. US weaponery can easily be fitted with secret kill switches which would make them impotent in battle, by US remote control (as were French supplied Exocet missiles in the Falklands war). And the paltry loans/grants the US provides pale in comparison with the costs in terms of civil war, suicide bombs, and general mayhem. When do we say enough is enough ? Do we wait until the situation is irretrievably lost ? May 25, 2013 10:04pm

Pakistanis should be glad that America is Killing Terrorsit,whch the Pak Govt cannot or do not want to do. Speaking of innocent Victims,How many are getting killed everyday now in Pakistan? Speaking of "Drones are bad"- this is something which the Pak Govt tried to get from Pakistan,

S.A Subhani May 25, 2013 11:01pm

Rafia Zakaria has done a good job by drawing parallels in the evil between American foreign policy of intervention and aggression in Pakistan and the criminal acts of Pakistani Taliban. One aggression is from foreign land and the other is from within. Thus the choice to take side became easier. Stop the foreign aggression first and than later, at some opportune time,take care of the misguided tiny minority within..

S.A Subhani May 25, 2013 11:00pm

Rafia Zakaria has done a good job by drawing parallels in the evil between American foreign policy of intervention and aggression in Pakistan and the criminal acts of Pakistani Taliban. One aggression is from foreign land and the other is from within. Thus the choice to take side became easier. Stop the foreign aggression first and than later, at some opportune time,take care of the misguided tiny minority within..

Fahim Mirza May 26, 2013 01:00am

Guess! the author never heard the term "Islam Zinda Hota He Hr' Karbala Ke Baad". This means when ever you fight with religious groups perceived to be defending Islam, you help them come together and become a bigger and stronger force. It is not about a choice between US or Taliban, instead, it is about peace or continued terrorism. For many years we have tried defeating them by force but only helped them to grow bigger and stronger. It is time that we give the political forces a chance. The dialog will help first take the air out of the balloon and bring down the emotions. Second, it will help the moderate voices to reach those isolated people who had no other choice other then Taliban. The dialog will help isolate the real terrorist from the sympathizers. Years of Taliban rule have not given them anything other then misery. Once, the people have a chance to listen to the moderate forces, it will isolate the real bad guys. The liberated people can then help the military eliminate this menace. No one denies the importance of women equality and education but without peace no women can dare to go to school in the tribal areas. Let's first give the politicians a chance to bring this peace.

Ottoman May 26, 2013 01:11am

As long as ignorant people continue to blame America with every problem that befalls Pakistan, then there will be no real endurable solution. People must take control of the situation and problems facing them. The problems and issues facing Pakistan and its peoples must be examined/analysed with a magnifying glass and concrete solutions must implemented in an effective practical manner. Then these solutions must be validated to ensure they are correct. America is not the new God of the World. Great many super powers have been turned back home during these centuries, America is no exception. Learn from history, adapt, persevere, be committed people of Pakistan to the development and improvement of Pakistan. Allah only help those who help themselves. End and defeat all forms of discrimination and become a great nation of people of Pakistan.

Zaheer Ali May 26, 2013 08:41am

i must say 8 years we followed the orders of U.S what we got nothing then Terrorism, inflation , which became reson for pakistani's as terrorist ... inspite of the bad circumstances people went out and voted in hope of some new changes , in hope of to get rid from drone attacks and other terrorist activities ..U.S gave us nothing now Agrgrement with TTP may be reason for peace in pakistan so let the talk begin soon and hope for betterment of pakistan ...

Shah May 26, 2013 08:49am

@Shehzad: To bow down to Taliban's demand is not going to do any good to Pakistan, it was done once and it miserably failed and their wish list will be keep extending on and on, there will be no end to it. Because they want to harm Pakistan not for the cause of Islam but for some foreign vested interest. Islam and sharia is just an excuse. Even if American and NATO forces leave they will not stop killing. Then there will be new reason that we want sharia in Pakistan, there are foreign fighters with them, why not these people bring Sharia in their country than keen to bring Sharia in Pakistan. All these are hollow slogans their aim is to destroy Pakistan.

Muhammad Farooq May 26, 2013 10:58am

I appreciate the concerns raised by blogger regarding possible TTP demands. I believe that it is important for the government to draw a red line while negotiating with TTP. Whatever decision is taken should be subject to ratification by the National Assembly and Senate. If demands are too radical, we can have a referendum too.

Muhammad Farooq May 26, 2013 10:57am

I appreciate the concerns raised by blogger regarding possible TTP demands. I believe that it is important for the government to draw a red line while negotiating with TTP. Whatever decision is taken should be subject to ratification by the National Assembly and Senate. If demands are too radical, we can have a referendum too.

Muhammad Farooq May 26, 2013 11:02am

I appreciate the concerns raised by blogger regarding possible TTP demands. I believe that it is important for the government to draw a red line while negotiating with TTP. Whatever decision is taken should be subject to ratification by the National Assembly and Senate. If demands are too radical, we can have a referendum too.

Shaista May 26, 2013 11:52am

The Question that is clicking in my mind is very simple rather. As Far we have seen demands from Taliban for peace negotiations are very simple with which they claim to be full supportive with government of Pakistan. Implement Sharia Law( which is the final destiny of the state ) and say goodbye to America. I think these are quite reasonable demands. What is irritating our government in imposing Sharia Law? It should be the demand of all Pakistanis.

Wajahat Hussain May 26, 2013 01:17pm

Mohterma Raffia sahiba Very well said; its the lesser evil that we have chosen! No one is our friend it is for us to decide how to stand on our two feet and protect our interests.

Hasnain May 26, 2013 01:31pm

I think its unfair to conclude that Pakistanis have opted to negotiate with the Taliban instead of with the US. The Taliban consist of actual people who are physically present in the country, who are indigenous to Pakistan or the surrounding regions, and may at least be racially similar to Pakistanis. In addition to this, they follow their own warped version of Islam, which at least has the same name as the religion of the Pakistani majority. The possibility of a real negotiation exists. The US consists of unmanned drones flying around in the northern regions, remote controlled by white english-speaking christians sitting across the globe on another continent. And you cant think Pakistanis realistically expect the world's superpower to come sit at the negotiating table with the world's least popular third-world country. Its not really possible to negotiate while holding out a beggar's bowl in one hand. Pakistanis essentially want to stop getting bombed and will do whatever they can to try and lose fewer civilian lives, and stop living in a constant state of terror. If talking to the terrorists seems to be the only way out (considering shooting them down hasn't helped things) then so be it!

Harkappa May 26, 2013 05:18pm

Yes, Pakistan is a victim of terrorism, too. Sadly, a lot of the perpetrators of that scourge are of its own making -- as part of its official policies!

ZAK May 26, 2013 05:21pm

I think TIME is the biggest game-changer. Is it Pakistan that is trying now to talk to the Taliban or the US itself ? I am a Pakistani who lives in Pakistan and feverishly hopes that my children and grand-children may be able to live in my country with honour, dignity and safety. And be able to achieve to their best ability without fear and favour

Masood Hussain May 26, 2013 07:04pm

Outcome of recent elections is directly related to the American Policies towards Pakistan.

Imran May 26, 2013 08:58pm

I dont think that taliban are lesser evil.They bring upon wrath of America on us and the bad image in whole world.If government negotiate with them,will they lay their arms down or stop killing us in the name of Islam?

independentthinker May 27, 2013 12:31am

What choice do Pakistanis really have? Side with the Americans who indiscriminately kill innocent civilians with drone strikes and whenever they get an opportunity, they put Pakistan down? That being said, I do believe Pakistan can stand up for what is right! The leaders don't have to give in to anyone. With the military might we have, we can control the Talibans - but that would require the military and the civilian leaders to work together to solve the problem - that would require that neither side is influenced by bribery or intimidation - that our only focus is what is best for the people of Pakistan - not a particular sect or cast. Once we change from what is good for "me" to what is good for "us", we can tackle any problem. It requires commitment and determination - and i hope our new leaders can show that they have both! As i have said in the past, involve every party - as this country belongs to all of us and united, we can fight evil.

inusa May 27, 2013 07:44am

ok folks, Pakistani Govt are going to talk to Taliban BUT What is exactly Taliban's Agenda? They do not want girls to go to school, they want Islamic Sharia Law, etc That is not possible and they are truly barbaric. Pakistan cannot say no to the aid we get, Pakistan already in 65B debt...who will repay that? There is no way this talk will be successful as we know Taliban's motive. They are not humans. The only problem is that people of Pakistan are emotional and they do not think from their head. Just vacate the place where all those Taliban's reside and Drone them.

Mustafa May 27, 2013 08:00am

@zia khan: Zia, you said "Americans have lost their trust for ever & Pakistan must look elsewhere in the region for trustworthy friends." I thought you will say "Americans have lost their trust for ever & Pakistan must look to Talibans for trustworthy friendship."

Mustafa May 27, 2013 08:10am

@Alexander: Whether Pakistan likes or does not like America, Muslims outside Pakistan and even Pakistani Muslims living in America are happy with America where Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity and growing by leaps and bonds. It is a false propaganda that America is against Islam. Come to America and see the progress of Islam.

Mustafa May 27, 2013 08:29am

@Muhammad Farooq: You said "Whatever decision is taken should be subject to ratification by the National Assembly and Senate." Are you aware that National Assembly and Senate are creature of Secularism as claimed by Talibans and they will never be in peace until every trace of secularism is wiped out from Pakistan and the head of Pakistani Taliban becomes High Khalifah in Islamabad. The militancy and terrorism will continue until they achieve full control of Pakistan. May Allah save Pakistan from militants and terrorists and their helpers, supporters, financiars and those who sign false "show off" peace treaty with them.

Danish A. May 27, 2013 09:13am

@bubba: I agree with everything you say. But providing all Pakistanis with same rights has nothing to do with Taliban. Even in America, not everyone has the same rights (i.e. gay marriage, etc.). I agree that it is not America but people of Pakistan themselves that are to blame for the rise of Pakistani Taliban. Nonetheless, it is a right of every foreign gov't to refuse to have military ties with other nations, that does not automatically open it up to drone attacks by other nations. I am sure if America refused to target someone inside itself that was wanted in say Iran, Iran would not automatically have some sort of a magical right to initiate drone attacks on a city such as Seattle or Tulsa. The bottom line is that where America failed at diplomacy and patience, Pakistan and most importantly and sadly Pakistanis failed at having priorities in eradicating Taliban, which a large minority of Pakistanis still do not see as a threat, which Taliban is. It is a much bigger threat to Pakistan than America, or even India will ever be.

Hopeless May 27, 2013 09:22am

Taliban's thinking involves no progression,no education,killing in the name of Islam.If anyone thinks that they are going to lay down the weapons,stop the killings,allow the children to get an education(boy or a girl) then you need to think again,Taliban are going to sit down with their long laundry list with not a lot of give and take.They prefer to live in the stone age.They want to force feed the public with the sharia law.Last I checked,it is my given right to worship whoever I please,I'm a muslim too,but a different one,not the taliban muslim but a real muslim who struggles every day to do the right thing,say the right thing,speak the truth and so on.The only one who will judge me at the end is the all MIGHTY ALLAH,even he gives us a choice.I do not expect anything from the talibans except who they are.I'm not going to blame the Americans for any of it.The Pakistanis need to look at themselves and take whats coming to them.l don't blame the Americans one bit for doing what they are doing to protect the American people,if anything,Pakistan needs to learn from it,look around,people don't even have drinking water,electricity,gas,education and the list goes on,they have no business pointing fingers at the Americans.I'm a Pakistani and a muslim,I have lived in the U S for 34 years,sure the people here have their struggles but they also have rights,and they are protected at all cost,even if it means taking out the bad guys in Pakistan.I really hope that talking to the taliban doesn't mean taking orders from them,I really hope the government plan is to be firm with these killers.

shriza May 27, 2013 09:43am

The notion of terrorism coming into pakistan's major cities as a result of drone attacks is totally rubbish and un-acceptable on logical and observational grounds. Since their occupation of Afghanistan in 1996, taliban and their friends worldwide had a clear plan to occupy Pakistan and establish their own brand of religion. That goal is partially achieved now with the success of Nawaz sharif and Imran Khan.

shriza May 27, 2013 09:48am

@asim: You will get similar comments if a Christian boasts himself as a christian before slaying unarmed or innocent people in the streets.

Akil Akhtar May 27, 2013 10:11am

@Alexander: who told you we hatred them all the hatred seems to be coming from the US media towards muslims.

steve May 27, 2013 10:58am

@AAJ: Well said...the most sensible, realistic comment I have read so far.

pakwatcher May 27, 2013 11:47am

Yet another poorly drafted article

peter turner May 27, 2013 12:23pm

@Ottoman: I agree with you entirely. Pakistanis have been blaming America for whatever nasty things happen to them. The drone strikes while deplorable are just one of many problems the country has to immediately deal with. Future talks with the Taliban likely will sadly lead nowhere. The Taliban have proven unreliable, dishonest and stubborn in any attempted negotiations. Even now they are trumpeting all sorts of stupid threats. Only aggressive military intervention will eradicate them. You cannot have a country with no or limited education for girls. Religion also has to be an adjunct to life there and not the leading force. More secularism is required. You cannot have the state dealing with individual morals of all its citizens. At least not in this youtube, facebook world. Won't work anymore. The world has shrunk. Artificial government borders don't matter that much to citizens. Pakistanis are fascinated with what goes on among their Indian cousins. Forget the Kashmir issue... what a waste of money when so many go hungry and remain uneducated in Pakistan.

Sher May 27, 2013 02:53pm

The US may be honest in its intention to tackle the issue, but during the process at times it tends to impose its views on the world. God bless us all