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EVENTUALLY, the illogic of conspiracy will have to give way to reality. Waliur Rehman, a TTP leader mind-bogglingly referred to by Imran Khan as ‘pro-peace’, was killed by an American drone, so now the TTP has killed nine foreigners in remote Gilgit-Baltistan in revenge. And instead of the focus being on how to prevent Pakistan from slipping further towards international isolation and internal instability, the question that will likely be asked most frequently, in the media, by the political class, by large chunks of civil society, is what can be done to stop drones strikes. The problem with the drone debate is not that it is unimportant but that it tends to obscure a more fundamental and important question: what to do about the TTP? And that more important and fundamental question is itself wrapped up in another set of distractions, namely whether or not to negotiate over what is not negotiable.

Unhappily, the newly elected government appears to already be falling into the trap of rhetoric as a substitute for action. Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan has set an admirable new tone by speaking plainly and bluntly about all that ails Pakistan on the security front. That is good. But all the straight talk in the world will not substitute for a meaningful policy against militancy — and the necessary corollary of wresting national security policy from the army leadership. It is here that the PML-N already seems to be falling into the old trap of inaction through summits and all-party conferences and the like. Already, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears aloof and disconnected, allowing his ministers to speak for his government instead of leading from the front himself.

For the army’s part, a pattern now seems obvious: everything but North Waziristan can be tackled. The reasons for that can only be guessed at, but could it have something to do with the impending transition in Afghanistan, after which the much-loved Haqqani network may be encouraged to move its operations to the other side of the Durand line and then the TTP will be taken on? If Pakistan’s internal security is in fact linked to an external agenda, then perhaps the TTP is only a symptom of the disease. Bringing about change, particularly in powerful, entrenched institutions, is always a difficult undertaking. But if the Pakistani state doesn’t change its approach, the TTP will change Pakistan for all of us.

Comments (21) Closed

Brig (Retd) Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq Jun 24, 2013 08:59am

The situation is more complicated than one perceives. In Baluchistan, BLA and Lashkar e Jhangavi as well as Central Asian groups of fighters and in the KPK, we see TTP and other extremist group. The situation of Katachinis too complicated to be comprehended. All are there including the local ethnic and sectarian groups. The northern areas, were made home to sectarian violence but there all the sects have a sizeable presence and a group cannot be the sole sufferer of the massacre, unlike other areas. Now another colour has been added to it by killing the mountaineers, which may lead to complete collapse of the economy of that area as well as the face of the nation. The challenge of the newly elected government is manifold. It has to show statesmanship, deal with the foreign stake holders, intensify intelligent network, bring the local elders on board, develop effective police force and above all a will to do all that. There we need national consensus. So far, a large number of people believe in vonspiracy theories and do not take it as their own war. National reconciliation, clear planning, a set agenda and will to execute the relevant tasks with complete coordination is the need of the time.

Aziz Jun 24, 2013 09:18am

The question is not which problem should assume precedence over the other. Drones or TTP ?

Both are equally pernicious. One shatters the sovereignty of the country and its security appratuses and the other destroys the writ of the state and the life and property of the people.

This is not a time for well-connceived and logical discussions on safe platforms but employing whatever means to stop either/or both. The chances of bringing the TTP (whoever created them is yet another question the people need answered) on board is perhaps higher than stopping the drone.

The drone is 'power projection' on an otherwise helpless nation from a nation that wishes to dominate the entire world. The TTP is 'power struggle' to assume power irrespective or costs ,consequences or credentials.

Stalinism and fascism combined into one and foisted on an otherwise peaceful and hardworking nation.

Malik Jun 24, 2013 09:57am

You could have still condemned terrorist and terrorism without bringing Imran Khan in any context. I doubt it even he had condemned the Taliban in the most vocal terms, that would alone abolished terrorism?

jaffri Jun 24, 2013 10:58am

This attack is a test of Nawaz government. Is federal government willing and capable of arresting and charge sheeting accomplices of this crime? If not, security conditions and investment atmosphere will remain the same that was in previous five years

Khanzada Jun 24, 2013 11:39am

What a shameful incident that Pak authorities could not protect foreign tourists. I am unable to understand the logic that stopping drone attacks will solve everything? The TTP are fighting the Pakistan State to impose their ideology upon the country by force. They are NOT fighting the Americans. Pakistan Govt needs to tell the US CATEGORICALLY that this is OUR WAR not yours and let us deal with this ourselves. The Govt and Army must then demonstrate to the US and the world that they are sincere in eliminating terrorism from their territory and will not allow militant terrorists from occupying and using their territory for terrorist activities! Once they do this, then the US will no longer have any excuse to launch drone attacks. I have not heard a single Political Leader or media person or even a newspaper like Dawn making this simple and logical argument, and I would like to know why?

Mustafa Jun 24, 2013 02:12pm

We don't have to debate if TTP or the drones are a bigger menace. If the government had even a modest credibility, we could stop them both. Take a cue from Syria, even when the religious terrorists and the imperial terrorists joined hands they could not overthrow Bashar-ul-Assad. One wood be foolhardy to expect the current government to stop corruption, if Nawaz could go back to the corruption of his first term in office, we can pull it off.

Irfan Husain Jun 24, 2013 02:45pm

A very clear call to arms, but is anybody in power listening?

Anuj Jun 24, 2013 04:18pm

I am sure that Im the Dim and many others will fuel the Drone debate post these killings, as against see it for it is really - a Massacre and Murder - a crime against innocent foreigners, given a Visa by Govt OfPakistan, and implicit understanding thereof that their welfare or lack thereof, shall be dealt with by Pakistani state's security and judicial authorities.

But what do you see ? A bunch of politicians will try and mangle the dialogue to save their favourite "good" extremists, an entrenched army shall look the other way and the nation shall be told by it's leaders " ....but we Pakistanis too are victims of Terror, so how does this murder of just a few foreigners bother us? FIRST, the rest of the world owes us Pakistanis a living and must come to our AID in dollars to help save ourselves from our own created extremists...." and more of the same....

anwar khushab Jun 24, 2013 04:50pm

An excellent piece. You are right; if the Pakistani state does not change its attitude, the TTP will change Pakistan for all of us. And yet, would-be leaders such as Imran Khan talk glibly of negotiating with cold-blooded killers of innocents and foreigners. And yet the army talks of these murderers of Pakistanis and foreign innocents as "assets."

Aamir Jun 24, 2013 08:07pm

@Brig (Retd) Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq : It also means holding security institutions accountable.

K.K.Fakhta Jun 24, 2013 08:17pm

Unfortunately, I think we have to recognize a basic fact: The Pakistan Government and the Pakistan Army are no longer capable of stopping the spread of the Taliban and militants any more - they have become too strong and have wide ranging support from within huge sections of our population.

It is pointless to talk about international conspiracies etc. which have led to this situation. The external factors will continue if they are there. Now we have to recognize this unfortunate fact while formulating our policies vis a vis the Taliban - It is essentially negotiating the terms of the surrender. Very much like East Pakistan. Please note that the Taliban and their associated groups recognize this situation and their policies are shaped by this realization.

Our politicians confuse the situation even more by saying that they would rather negotiate with the Taliban etc that fight them. They do not say that we can no longer fight them since they are too strong and therefore we should negotiate.

The Army establishment does the same thing. They say that the politicians need to agree first before we fight them. They seem to imply that if this agreement is reached then they will be able to eradicate these elements. This is no longer correct.

So I think we need to re- think our policy in the light of this unfortunate realization. This may involve giving up a part of our country to these elements in order to save the rest. Perhaps they would settle for North and South Waziristan for the time being. This agreement will not be permanent however.

They will want and take more if we do not shore up our resistance in the remaining part. It is not the Taliban who want to negotiate for time it is Pakistan.

The type of changes we will, have to implement in the remaining part of Pakistan to save it will depend on our people - i.e. whether they want a religious State or basically a liberal secular state with an Islamic history.

If it is the first then we will be preparing ourselves for a complete take over in the next round of fights.

If it is the second then we will have to fight hard to preserve this state- and here I do not mean the army only. Each one of us will have to stand up and be counted and make sacrifices. I am sorry but this is the real situation and choices choice we are faced with.

Muhammad Ahmed Mufti Jun 24, 2013 09:00pm

This seems to be an example of utter incompetence of law enforcement agencies particularly the police. The incident happened at a remote snow covered region. How did the miscreants reach there? How were they able to escape? Why was a helicopter not sent to follow the tracks of these terrorists?

Tahir M Jun 24, 2013 09:38pm

@Brig (Retd) Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq :

Brigadier Sahib, the millions and millions of brainwashed Muslims need to be put through a course of de-Islamization.

This is all reaching to callous proportions of barbarism with people watching in approval from the ringside

Dr. D. Prithipaul Jun 24, 2013 09:58pm

The Dawn writer misses one vital point: the merit or the regressive use of duplicity as an inherent feature of the state's foreign policy. For years Pakistan has taken for granted that the Americans are basically naive and stupid and incapable of seeing through the wretched policy of taking their dollars and their military hardware to finance and equip the murderers of American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. Since 1947 the Pakistani officialdom has painted Indians as aggressors while the simple truth is that it is the Muslims, since the very first wave of their invasion, who have seized every opportunity to ravage Indian civilization. The creation of Pakistan was a momentous part of that ravaging. You are still doing it, whether you claim to be moderate or fundamentalist..Just read the history books prescribed for social studies required at the 3 levels of Pakistani public education. Pakistanis have succeeded in reversing history by claiming victimhood when in fact they belong to a history of persecution of Hindus and Buddhists. There would have been no Sikhism, for example, without Muslim persecution of the Hindus. But this reversing of history has been the great success of Jinnah and his legacy has been actively executed by the Army. Unfortunately Pakistan does not have the intellectuals, the academics, the writers, the thinkers to redress this historical perversity. Militancy is a by-product of this distortion of the history of the Umma. To begin with, you cannot correct such a monumental distortion during one prospective 5-year term of a Nawaz Sharif administration to undo the heritage of a thousand years of a triumphant violence against Jaina-Buddhist-Hindu India.

Siyalkotia Jun 24, 2013 10:06pm

@Khanzada: ...., and I would like to know why ?

Because we are afraid of Mullah-Brigade.

(Dr.) B.N. Anand Jun 24, 2013 10:25pm

Sir, I read and also listen to some news that most of the foreigners killed were Chinese. Is it true? If true, then it surely puts some different type of pressure on Pakistan. BNA

Hasan Jun 25, 2013 05:23am

"Already, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears aloof and disconnected, allowing his ministers to speak for his government instead of leading from the front himself." It has been my understanding that ministers speak for and about their relative ministries. The PM is a figure head, BUT certainly not the spokeperson on all matters relating to government.

madan Jun 25, 2013 07:25am

@Mustafa: dear sir, what a comparison - Syria! Do you like Pakistan to be converted to another Syria with all its destruction and blood-shed with the West and the East using Syrian soil to settle their disputes? For heaven's sake, let us select some more peaceful analogy and role model for Pakistan than Syria, Lebanon, Iraq or even Afghanistan.

Human species Jun 25, 2013 08:23am

As a country we are corrupt from the top to the bottom. Religion and sex should stay inside the house .. When religion come out of the house ... it gives more trouble..... SIMPLE ANSWER IS RELIGION IS THE PROBLEM

asif ashraf Jun 25, 2013 11:02am

The TTP WILL CHANGE PKISTAN FOR ALL OF US .That pakistan in which the patwari the thanedar the judge the tax man and score of others sucking the blood of pakistanis. but ,ofcoures not of the Elites of our beloved pakistan. then this change should be be welcome.

Mian Azmat Farooq Jun 26, 2013 07:49am

@K.K.Fakhta: Excellent comment.. I can not agree more