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The Emirate of TTP

Updated Aug 12, 2013 08:00am

THERE is a businessman in Karachi who lives in one of those manors with barbed wires atop high walls.

He generates his own electricity through solar technology, as none is available from the state. He harvests rainwater for domestic use, as none is provided by the state. He has employed private guards, as the state is not even pretending to take responsibility for his life and security. What he says with a chuckle reflects the painful reality of Pakistan: all I need to do is design my own flag and I can declare myself a state.

What will the prime minister say to families of the 11 boys who were blown up playing football in Karachi? That the act of killing innocent citizens is heinous and he condemns it? What will Sindh’s chief minister say to the grief-stricken mothers in Lyari? That it was God’s will? What will the IG police say to the wife of the SSP just killed in Chilas? That only brave officers die in the line of fire? What does the army chief say to all the martyrs who die fighting the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) every day? That their kids will be proud of their sacrifice?

Will any of them say they are sorry and ashamed that they have failed and are continuing to fail in discharging a responsibility that comes with the public offices they hold? This is the latest fad in Pakistan: matter-of-fact acknowledgment of the wrongfulness of a situation, without the slightest suggestion that such wrongfulness is the product of individual acts and omissions that must attract responsibility. What else can explain the D.I. Khan jailbreak, which was a replica of the Bannu jailbreak?

After each terror incident we are told that it was caused due to intelligence failure, as if only coordination amongst agencies and sharing information would sort out the menace. There was no failure of intelligence this time. We have been told that concrete intelligence had been provided to law enforcement agencies regarding the target, timing of the attack and the identity of the terrorists. The TTP came, it saw, it conquered, and then left undisturbed. How do you understand such an event within a sovereign state?

Let us break this down. So we know there is an enemy within our territorial borders planning and executing attacks against the state and citizens alike, and publicly taking ‘credit’ for them. In one such incident, intelligence agencies determine that an attack on a jail holding TTP affiliates is imminent. There’s information that the TTP is organising itself in the neighborhood in preparation for the attack. And how does the state respond? It awaits the attack.

Are we analysing the conduct of two belligerent nation-states where even in the face of imminent war you don’t wish to be the first one to breach the peace? The TTP has a state of its own within what the world mistakenly believes to be Pakistani territory. It is called North Waziristan. Not only does the writ of Pakistan not extend to North Waziristan, this is enemy territory from where the TTP plans and executes attacks on its declared enemy: the state and citizens of Pakistan.

It is misleading to call North Waziristan a sanctuary. A sanctuary is a place where someone has been given refuge. There is an assumption within the concept that there is a higher power actually providing such refuge. The TTP has not been afforded sanctuary in North Waziristan. It is the TTP that is affording sanctuary to Al Qaeda and foreign fighters within North Waziristan, as the TTP’s writ is supreme within North Waziristan and its orders are habitually obeyed by all living within such territory.

From a legal perspective, the contemporary notion of state sovereignty has four attributes: defined territory; distinct population; authority over territory and population; and recognition of such authority. Should the TTP not claim North Waziristan as the Emirate of TTP? After all it enjoys independent and absolute authority over a distinct territory and population. There might not be international recognition of the TTP’s sovereignty yet, but doesn’t the state of Pakistan offer de facto acknowledgement through its conduct?

Wouldn’t formally declaring North Waziristan the Emirate of TTP be advantageous? Once TTP has its own state, we will know for sure that the war consuming the soldiers and citizens of Pakistan is our own war, notwithstanding how it started. Each time the TTP attacks a mosque, a funeral, a school, we can file a complaint with the UN building public opinion that the Emirate of TTP is a rogue state that attacks unarmed civilians in other sovereign states and shows no respect for human rights.

Each time it attacks a naval or air base, the GHQ or ISI offices, we can take it to the Security Council for illegal use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of our sovereign state and ask the international community to protect us from the next-door savages. Given that neither our politicians nor our generals have developed a narrative against the TTP, let’s formally give them the state that they already run and let the media develop the required narrative and drum up hate against them.

TTP sympathiser will become a curse word. Those projected as forgiving visionaries who’d rather hold talks with the killers of our children in the interest of peace will be instantly declared agents in the pay of our enemies who have sold their souls to the devil. Our drone problem will go away as the attacks will no longer be a breach of our sovereignty.

We might even be able to evolve public opinion in favour of taking action against slaughterers of Shias and other murderous militias in Karachi and elsewhere by disclosing their linkage with the TTP.

The more you think about it, the better it gets. The TTP is a formidable enemy that is winning. Let’s give it what it already has and ask for mercy. If it still keeps hurting us, let us go and complain to the big boys.

The writer is a lawyer.

sattar@post.harvard.edu