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Upper Dir attack and olive branch

September 21, 2013

AFTER the recent APC, a consensus was developed between military and political leadership on having talks with the Taliban to achieve peace in the country. There are, however, about 69 categories of the Taliban with different leaderships and different motives.

Their spokesman Shahidullah Shahid is not a known person and one does not know whether he exists on the ground or not. He has dictated terms for these peace talks. They want their men, arrested by the government, freed along with the withdrawal of troops from Fata. The APC communique is very vague as to with whom talks should be held and what should be our terms and conditions on the negotiating table. It is usually the losing side which asks for the talks or negotiations.

So, apparently, the Pakistan government has already accepted the defeat and invited the militants for unconditional peace talks.

The militants are operating all over Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing high-profile personalities and innocent civilians that include women and children. The Pakistan government is also using all types of methods to arrest, kill or incapacitate these militants. The US, along with Nato forces, is also operating to fight out the militants.

The Americans use drones to kill their commanders on both sides of the border. In this process, many innocent civilians get killed which is taken as collateral damage. The process is going on for the last over a decade.

The militants of hostile Taliban and Al Qaeda use all sorts of weapons to destroy American and Pakistani forces.

The commonly used methods by them are suicide bombers, using remote-controlled explosive devices, targeted killings of VIPs, rocket attacks and planting improvised explosive devices on important routes or at places where a gathering is expected.

The enemy is not defined and has no territory. They can appear and attack from nowhere and cause heavy damage to men and material.

The case in point is the recent killing of a general officer commanding of Swat and a lieutenant-colonel accompanying him, along with the driver, in Upper Dir through an IED, which was planted on their route.

They were coming back after visiting a forward post. There is no doubt the GOC was very daring that he travelled through a hostile territory to visit his troops on the border or FDLs. But where there is a threat of unknown enemy or enemy within, due precautions should have been taken and the only route available should have been cleared before his vehicle was due to pass.

In the hilly terrain, one does not have the option to change the route. So, senior officers should use either helicopters or land route should be thoroughly cleared.

We have had enough casualties of senior officers as well as of army troops and cannot afford to lose any more. We do not want to hear typical condolence messages from political leaders and army high command every time we lose our men.

Our army is a professional one and should not take a low position by offering an olive branch to these callous militants with no credibility for negotiations.

We have seen the aftereffects of the Swat agreement with Mulla Fazlullah. The army should care for the morale of the troops and should tell the political leadership in clear terms what the message militants have conveyed by killing senior army officers on Sept 15 when we were having plans to have talks with them.

Our conditions for the militants should be either they should surrender their weapons by a deadline or be prepared to face full onslaught of our forces. We should not show our weakness to them. Let them name and present their leaders who would come for the talks.


Confusing state

THIS refers to two headlines on the front page (Sept 17) that have left me confused. On the one hand, the army chief has vowed to ‘bring attackers to justice’ and, on the other hand, the PTI chief has called for ‘formations of delegations’ to start negotiations.

Are they talking about the same group of people, namely the Taliban? It is important for the authorities concerned to be very clear as to how they view these people and then carefully consider their line of action.

If they are categorised as militants and attackers, there should not be any deals or negotiations. There must be only tough talk. We should not let our country be hostage to these terrorist groups whether they are the Taliban or any other outfit.

Swift and strict action is the cure. I hope our politicians for once sweep aside their differences and think as patriots. What good is a political party without a country?


Time to act

APROPOS your editorial ‘Words alone won’t do’ (Sept 17). Why can’t we understand that it is too much? The nation cannot tolerate the existence of terrorists. There seems to be no end to the killing of our civilians and the armed forces.

Your editorial hits the nail on the head. The government’s approach to talks is indeed defensive and there has been little indication it understands the implications of its actions.

The PML-N government lacks comprehension. It seems it is in a petrifying state as how to tackle this issue and how to combat the terrorist groups.

The fact is that the government has no efficient team to deal with the current grim situation facing the country. Why doesn’t it take a bold decision against this menace?

Time and again the intelligentsia of the country has hinted the government to do something needful against this evil. Despite all these happenings, the prime minister is the leader to whom the nation is looking. He is, however, mum over the issue.

The nation has lost more than 50,000 lives owing to terrorism. Is the government waiting for more deaths?


Call for ceasefire

THIS is apropos the news item, ‘Imran calls for ceasefire’ (Sept 17). Imran Khan has asked the government to keep only one condition on the negotiation table that everything must be within the constitution.

It is funny. Are we trying to make a deal with a five-year-old kid or with terrorists? If they had ever held the constitution in such high esteem, there would have been no need of such efforts.

How can a sensible person expect them to respect the constitution? It goes against their ideology, they want to disband our constitution and we are requesting them to follow our constitution.

Sorry, Imran Khan, your plea cannot be entertained.

The response of politicians on Taliban attacks in Upper Dir is as absurd as the resolution passed at APC. “It is an effort to sabotage the peace talks”, is the general response of the confused stakeholders of the peace process.

The TTP claims the responsibility for this attack and yet we are telling the world that some unidentified group is working behind the curtains. The leaders don’t know who are the real enemies? Once we identify them, we will win half the battle.


Stopping military operations

IT is a matter of record that negotiating adversaries do not halt military operations. I wonder why some parties are suggesting halting all military operations by our forces in this situation. Do they not know that we will be in a disadvantageous situation if we do that?


Tough measures

THIS has reference to the article ‘Stronger responses needed’ (Sept 18). The TTP has conclusively shown its contempt for the proposed peace parleys. Are thousands of murders by the TTP not enough reason for the government to get tough and let the security forces deal with these terrorists without let or hindrance? The TTP does not want peace talks.

It wants our country to be handed over to them for the enforcement of their perverted version of Islam they learnt from the terror university at Akora.

MIAN MOHAMMAD AMIN Former Inspector-General Police Karachi