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IN death, Waliur Rehman has caused almost as much controversy as he did when he was alive. The TTP second-in-command appears to have been taken out by an American drone strike, triggering consternation in public and more considered cost-benefit analyses in private. For all the cries about yet another violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, however, one fundamental point must not be overlooked: it appears that the US knew how and where to find the militant, whereas the Pakistani security and intelligence apparatus did not.

Waliur Rehman had in the past been cast as a ‘moderate’ Taliban, someone the state here could do business with, but the truth was that he was a moderate only in that he was determined to attack inside Afghanistan too — meaning his attention was split between Pakistan and Afghanistan, unlike, say, Hakeemullah Mehsud who is known to focus most of his attention on attacks inside Pakistan. So here was a highly dangerous, highly motivated and highly effective militant leader in the form of Waliur Rehman and the Pakistani state appears to have had little clue of his whereabouts, appearing to believe that he would likely be hiding out on the border between North and South Waziristan. This is where the role of the security establishment should be questioned.

The drone argument also has the unhappy effect of deflecting attention to a far more serious issue: what the Pakistani state intends to do about North Waziristan, now the last redoubt of militants in which they can operate and plan largely unmolested. The incoming civilian leadership has talked up talks again while the military leadership has tried to indirectly warn about the futility of negotiations — but then the army high command has not shown any decisiveness when it comes to North Waziristan for years now either. Now, with the Taliban once again ‘suspending’ their offer of talks in the wake of Waliur Rehman’s killing, there is one of two ways to proceed: flounder in the face of a continuing threat or take strength from the decisiveness showed by the electorate in rejecting the Taliban path. For all the reasons for inaction, to avoid a military operation in North Waziristan, to further delay establishing the state’s writ there, there is a simple truth: the TTP and Pakistan as imagined by its people, and endorsed in the recent elections, are incompatible. How to take on the TTP militants in North Waziristan is an important question but it is secondary to the need to take them on now not later.

Comments (25) Closed

Soon May 31, 2013 09:08am

"the TTP and Pakistan as imagined by its people, and endorsed in the recent elections, are incompatible." How did the people endorse that, by electing pro taliban political parties and throwing out the anti-taliban ANP?

Em Moosa May 31, 2013 10:08am

Drone all them down. Clean up these animals from Pakistan that common man can live in peace. How sad that people can not even perform Jummah prayers safely today because of these monsters. Our politicians, particularly the new old / young guy politician, who talks a lot against drones has no personal experience how a family is frightened when a member of that family is away from his home and every body inside is all the time scared until he is back. And most of the time he is not back. Do politics but not hypocrisy. Your huge Bani Gala home may be very much safe but also think about the small homes of several your poor and helpless countrymen who are facing threats to their lives each and every moment because of these animals. Be realistic and not talk like usual politicians of Pakistani culture who are faceless and heartless.

interfaith May 31, 2013 04:06am
Go for it. Take the terrorists out now for good. Save Pakistan.
Iqbal May 31, 2013 04:56am
Pakistan and United States have clearly different views when it comes to defining a "target". US is concerned only with targeting militants who attack them in Afg. They don't care about the militants who target Pakistan. That's why US is still reluctant in confirming it killed Wali
BRR May 31, 2013 05:00am
How can Pakistani military not have a clue - hard to believe. Just as they claimed they did not know OBL was staying next door to their garrison, they will again claim they did not know where Waliur Rehman was hiding - which should be shameful, when the US can fi d out from 10000 miles away.
Mohammad Saleem May 31, 2013 07:14am
Unfortunately, now Pakistan is in the grip of the Frankenstein monster, and taking on this fatal monster is an uphill and pretty daunting task.
akhter husain May 31, 2013 08:32am
The editorial gives a lot to think about.Quash is the word for action,though the leaders must be mindful of the after effect and must be fully ready to counter it.with diligence.
Shubs May 31, 2013 09:46am
If that's the case, then leave the task to those who can do it, namely the Americans and their drones. You cannot keep feigning helplessness about harboring monsters and at the same time criticize those who can clean up YOUR house.
Feroz May 31, 2013 10:00am
Everyone knows where these guys are. One side did not like his ideology and love for violence and knocked him off. The other side wanted to use his skills elsewhere but were thwarted.
Ramem May 31, 2013 10:32am
Arguing for immediate action without regard to legal framework and procedure is same as compromising the means for achieving a desirable end. It may seem attractive right now but one lesson that history has taught humanity is that the end never justifies the means. Killing a few thugs without recourse to visible justice will only increase number of thugs and thug sympathisers. If Pakistan has to survive through this malice she must resist these irresponsive words of advice from immature and short sighted editorial writers.
Iftikhar Husain May 31, 2013 11:13am
The editorial is right to point out the failure of the security forces not to track this important militant but the Americans did this is a big question. Now the militant refused to talk with the government now they must come up with a definite policy to deal with this menace.
Salim Akbani May 31, 2013 11:40am
The foreign attacks will continue as long as Pakistan's security forces demonstrate their lack of effort and commitment to eradicate the in house terrorists aka the TTP. If you cannot cut off and take out a rag tag team of terrorists, how are you going to confront the US or other potential adversaries far superior to Pak Army.
Laeeq,NY May 31, 2013 12:09pm
Talibans were never and will be never tamed by any civilian or military government. People's carrying a mentality of medieval era can't adjust with 21st century civilization. There will be always a conflict between them and mainstream Pakistani,s society. These people are living in a cocoon and unwilling to embrace the new world. These tyrants should be dealt with carrot and stick diplomacy. Those who accept the writ of state should be welcomed and those who challenge the writ of the state should be left on the mercy of drones. I believe intelligence agencies are very well capable of tracking these terrorists and know their whereabouts but do not want to take this credit to avoid criticism from our own people.
Bubba May 31, 2013 02:07pm
It's disturbing that Pakistani's can't agree that people who massacre tens of thousands of innocents, blow up Mosques/Schools, behead your soldiers, and even want to take away your right to votes are BAD GUYS. It's becoming increasing apparent that when American withdraws from Afghanistan the slaughter within Pakistan will continue - so much for the mantra "America's WOT".
Vijay May 31, 2013 02:10pm
Just because something is difficult, doesn't mean it should not be attempted. Biggest failure is to not even try.
Tariq Shamsi May 31, 2013 02:46pm
A very important question has been raised here. What are all those numerous intelligence gathering agencies doing? OBL was fund by the Americans in Abbottabad, now Waliur Rehman. When will our agencies start earning their pay and begin to perform? when will they succeed in locating primary suspects rather than low key field personnel? or do we need a full overhaul of our intelligence gathering agencies which collectively are funded by millions if not billions of tax payers rupees annually?
Fadoo May 31, 2013 03:30pm
There should be no negotiating with them, we need to simply eliminate them with or without the help of US. Forget the sovernity crap, I support the drone strikes as out forces have so far proved to be impotent
Naseer May 31, 2013 03:44pm
Very true. It indeed is a Frankenstein monster. But only way to win is to fight it with determination and resolve. We need honest politicians, not those who want to appease Taliban only for their popularity.
Em Moosa May 31, 2013 05:50pm
Is always some thing wrong with my comments that your respected moderator uses special scissors for them and those never appeared here?. Please clarify. That will help me a lot. You can reply on my email address. Thanks.
Eddied May 31, 2013 07:22pm
Thank you America for helping to eliminate this scourge upon Pakistan...
NASAH (USA) Jun 01, 2013 02:16am
'Wrong'. man? Should have been Hakeemullah.
NASAH (USA) Jun 01, 2013 02:19am
May be Hakeemullah wanted the reward money!
Asit Ghosh, Mumbai Jun 01, 2013 02:28am
Nobody is asking the most obvious question. At 3 in the morning, how on earth did the Americans get to know the co-ordinates of Waliur Rehman? Surely the guys on the ground who called in the strike cannot be Americans, they got to be Pakistanis. Again surely, these guys are not laymen, they got to be security operatives. Once these ground realities are accepted, where is the doubt about the nexus between drone strikes and the establishment? Why are the Pakistani politicians crying hoarse on sovereignty issues, etc? What kind of hypocrisy is this?
Ali Hashim Jun 01, 2013 01:19pm
Right on!
@ Interfaith Jun 01, 2013 07:18pm
Yep. Why must anyone sympathize with those who use force and violence to spread intolerance? This is good for everyone.