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Droning Mullah Fazlullah

Updated Jun 18, 2016 08:32am


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The writer teaches physics in Islamabad and Lahore.
The writer teaches physics in Islamabad and Lahore.

In Pakistan, anger has greeted the killing of Afghan Taliban head, Mullah Mansour, by an American drone on Pakistani territory. When senior US officials visited army chief Gen Raheel Sharif at the Rawalpindi GHQ, he expressed strong displeasure at the violation of Pakistan’s air space and demanded that Tehreek-i-Taliban head, Mullah Fazlullah, together with other TTP militants, be targeted by drones. Linked to Al Qaeda, TTP has a history of savage atrocities committed against the people of Pakistan, its children, and armed forces. This demand was duly applauded across the country.

Whether Fazlullah will be droned if he is ever spotted remains to be seen. But the general’s demand raises troubling issues. To call for killing Fazlullah while mourning the loss of Mansour is inconsistent. Fazlullah is to Pakistan what Mansour was to Afghanistan. Their respective organisations — the TTP and the Taliban — are not identical but they share ethnic ties and a common mindset.

Similarities outweigh differences. Both Taliban groups oppose democracy, are religiously inspired, and believe that Islamic rule must be forcibly imposed. Both attack civilian targets, frequently use suicide bombers, and decapitate captured opponents. While the Taliban claim that they are fighting American occupation, the TTP alleges that the Pakistan Army is an American pawn — a ridiculous allegation.

Gen Sharif rightly raised the issue of violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. But this vexing matter needs careful consideration. In political science jargon, sovereignty means the exercise of effective control over some polity by some supreme authority. By this definition, drone overflights and missile attacks on the territory of a sovereign state do indeed violate international law.

But, were Pakistan to bring the issue before the International Court of Justice, it may have a difficult time. It would have to prove that it wields authority truly — rather than just formally — over large swathes of its designated territory. But the fact that the Afghan Taliban have freely used Pakistani territory to attack targets across the border for nearly 15 years, and that its leaders were/are ensconced in Quetta and Peshawar, could gravely weaken Pakistan’s case.

Fazlullah is to Pakistan what Mansour was to Afghanistan.

Mansour’s killing is the result of America’s new-found conviction that the Taliban will not negotiate peace, and that Pakistan is unwilling to rope them in. A US-based Pakistani commentator, Moeed Yusuf, notes that after years of ambivalence Americans have finally concluded that Pakistan is uninterested in having an elected government in Kabul.

Earlier, America’s perception had been that of two Pakistans — one which the US could woo with inducements such as F-16s, and another which it could scold away from supporting the Taliban. But rightly or wrongly, America now sees only one Pakistan — that which is part of the problem but not the solution. Yusuf notes that, after desperately seeking to negotiate with its opponents, “Kabul is focused solely on the battlefield”.

To be on the wrong side of the United States is not necessarily a bad thing. One can seriously differ with its creation of a faith-based response against the Soviet invasion in 1979, its unconditional support for Israel against Palestinians, the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the toppling of Qadhafi’s government in 2011.

But Pakistan should definitely be alarmed that, save for China, it stands alone and friendless in its neighbourhood and is viewed with suspicion in much of the world. Iran, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh are all Muslim countries with which Pakistan — a country conceived on the basis of Islam — could have expected to enjoy good relations with.

A misconceived foreign policy has led to the very opposite: Pakistani and Afghan troops are exchanging artillery fire today while India is busy with construction projects inside Afghanistan and earning the gratitude of ordinary Afghans. Hence the bitter remark: India gives us dams but Pakistan gives us only the Taliban.

What explains Pakistan’s soft corner for the Taliban? The answer is a no-brainer. Through the decades, Pakistan’s foreign policy has single-mindedly sought to counter India on every front irrespective of the terrible damage it may do to itself. In the early 1990s, Gen Mirza Aslam Beg was explicit about building ‘strategic depth’ inside Afghanistan with Taliban help. Pakistan has yet to plausibly renounce this earlier goal.

Another victim of tunnel vision is the Pak-Iran relationship, now frigid. Even President Rouhani’s visit in March to Islamabad did little to change things. India’s development of Iran’s Chabahar port, a consequence of Pakistan’s refusal to grant overland transit permission to India, feeds into the encirclement syndrome. Few in Pakistan care to remember Iran’s support to Pakistan during the 1965 and 1971 wars, or wonder how we lost an ally.

Neighbours frequently have disputes over land and water, or perhaps over markets and global influence. Many disputes are unsolvable but mature leaders learn to manage conflicts, agree on trade terms, make compromises, and keep communication channels open. This is how politics works.

That politics is practised today by the United States, China, and India. Within this triangle of geopolitical players, each jockeys for economic and military power. All have oversized militaries but their rivalries are not played out as zero-sum games. Even Saudi Arabia plays pragmatically. Its highest civilian award went to Narendra Modi, and it has a de facto alliance with Israel.

Rather than dig an ideological hole so deep that escape becomes impossible, Pakistan too must deal with India pragmatically and politically. A sane and civilised relationship is surely possible without Pakistan dropping the insistence that Kashmir needs a solution.

If Pak-India relations could be recalibrated, Pakistan could repair its poor relations with all its neighbours. With Afghanistan this has special urgency. Pakistan and Afghanistan have suffered enormously from militants who seek to impose their brutal ideology, and who deliberately target innocents. Pakistan has lost more brave soldiers and officers during its war against terror than in all wars against India.

Fazlullah must go, whether by drone or otherwise. But what we want for ourselves, we must also want for those across the Durand Line. For this, the successors of Mullah Mansour — however many are yet to come — will also have to go.

The writer teaches physics in Islamabad and Lahore.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2016

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

Comments (111) Closed

Spsalota Jun 18, 2016 04:52am

Excellent.Truelly brave.

Punch Jun 18, 2016 06:09am

The problem is your military.

Dilip Jun 18, 2016 06:11am

Sane advice, Pervez sahab ... excellent analysis also. But who with the 'real power' in your country will ever bother to listen?

Auginpk Jun 18, 2016 06:15am

Except the pawn word every other thing is correct.

Jalaluddin S. Hussain Jun 18, 2016 06:26am

I fully agree with the following assertions of Mr. Hoodbhoy:

"All have oversized militaries but their rivalries are not played out as zero-sum games. Even Saudi Arabia plays pragmatically. Its highest civilian award went to Narendra Modi, and it has a de facto alliance with Israel.

Rather than dig an ideological hole so deep that escape becomes impossible, Pakistan too must deal with India pragmatically and politically. A sane and civilised relationship is surely possible without Pakistan dropping the insistence that Kashmir needs a solution. "

jai hind Jun 18, 2016 06:50am

this guy is spot on the current state of affairs in pakistan.these are the people who we need in our domestic and international policy setup.

march21 Jun 18, 2016 06:52am

At last a sane article!

Samit Jun 18, 2016 06:59am

Kudos! Very well written sir . If only the political and military establishment in Pakistan could understand and practise what you say . it could be what turns around the country

Voice of Reason Jun 18, 2016 07:11am

Excellent article as usual - observing Dawn from Europe - it is evident that for Pakistan to progress with a coherent strategy - it must have a unified leadership. As far as I can see, your have the National Government, Regional Governments, Military and Religious Leadership all exercising power without there being a single command structure. It is completely dysfunctional - there will always be someone whose agenda will differ and cause issues with Neighbours. I fear that no-one wants to cede power and do the right thing - so on we go. I think the frustrations for other countries will continue and instead of engaging with Pakistan - most countries will try to bypass it.

Bisma Faiz Jun 18, 2016 07:13am

If Pakistan's policy towards Afghan-taliban would become as same as for TTP, then for sure 20% problems from the South-Asian politics will disappear. and then the rest of 80% could be well managed by resolving Kashmir issue, for that responsibility goes to India. So, at this point we should keep focusing on what we can do, not what others ought to do.

AB, US Jun 18, 2016 08:44am

As usual brilliant analysis from a distiguished physicist. May be politics and political science is overated. An objective analysis like yours is much better than constipated, blind expression of thoughts. Hope these two neighbors live in peace and sanity. So far insanity prevails and pens like your may be our best hope for the future generation.

Ajay Ladkani Jun 18, 2016 10:11am

Well written sir. Sometimes I feel you are a better political analyst than a physicist and mathematician put together.

Rabia Jun 18, 2016 10:27am

very well said, and so sad

sub# Jun 18, 2016 10:53am

Excellent article !!

Premsan Jun 18, 2016 11:23am

Brilliant piece of article. We,dearly,admire Pervez giving factual report on the present situation in South Asia. But,any takers in Pak....?

Lostopportunities Jun 18, 2016 11:40am

This viewppont seems to be just opposite of what pakistani decision makers thinks. They believe in nuclear arms and strategic depths to fulfil their goals to counter their enemies that worked out well many times.

an argumentative Indian Jun 18, 2016 11:42am

Damn... you have some smart people left... Prof. Hoodbhoy, you are brave, you are super smart - you should be in US, Europe or India!!!

Aamir rehan Jun 18, 2016 11:46am

The global narrative against us is not improving, yet we fail to introspect. Pakistan is seen as vibrant economy with a great potential, yet we chide our politicians, it's seen as consistently not delivering on its responsibility on terrorism, yet we praise our security doctrine. We are a bit warped in our collective thinking

Nadeem Khan Jun 18, 2016 11:53am


Hairat Bhai Jun 18, 2016 12:08pm

great analysis, simplified to be understood. I truly believe a stable Pakistan is very good for the region, I wish this neighbor country becomes wise fight other problems such as illiteracy, poverty etc.

Shalone Jun 18, 2016 12:30pm

The author has courage. That is something lacking in many authors out of fear and one track minds.

Pakistan army doesn't think so Jun 18, 2016 12:30pm

Pakistan Army and their representative Mr. Sartaj Aziz feels Pakistan foreign policy is in the right direction and they don't seem to agree with you sir.

RAVEENDRA NATH Jun 18, 2016 12:46pm

Mr. Pervez Hoodbhoy always talks sense based on knowledge, intelligence and the rare wisdom. Sincerely hope, the people of Pakistan and the powers that be, politicians and military, listen to these words of wisdom for their own good.

Abbas Naqvi Jun 18, 2016 12:47pm

Yes, Pakistan is slipping into isolation as a result of its weak leadership and weaker foreign policy. Our present relations with our neighbors is a reflection of some of the glaring failures of the foreign policy that we still believe can deliver. Our India, Afghan and Iran policy needs to be given a second look to realign it with the strategic and national interests of the country calling for strong and friendly ties with neighbors and pro active foreign relations in the international arena. We need to build bridges of friendship to open new vistas of economic cooperation to enhance trade and commercial ties with neighboring and regional countries. Pakistan needs to have an able Foreign Minister capable of opening a new horizon in our foreign affairs and putting diplomacy on the right track. The writer's suggestions for mending fences with neighbors are practical and worthy of consideration by our policy makers and strategists.

Jayakumar Jun 18, 2016 01:04pm

I cant get how such sane people live in a country like Pakistan. Dr. Hoodbhoy is probably the lone writer whom I read sentence by sentence & word by word,be it Pakistani or Indian. Ofcourse he is a frequent visitor to India but I wished he lived in India.

Zalmay Jun 18, 2016 01:07pm


Nasiroski Jun 18, 2016 01:14pm

Wish there were more welcoming ears for Dr Hoodbhoy in Pakistan than currently are, especially in power corridors. No hopes for this country with current mindset.

Feroz Jun 18, 2016 01:21pm

Old habits die hard. Nice article that tells us all that we know. Unless the citizen wants to see change and works to be the agent of that change, there will never be any positive outcome. Fatalism and escapism has an iron grip, the prime source for denials and conspiracy theories. We can do it attitude is not seen anywhere.

Guest Jun 18, 2016 01:39pm

Excellent article from a very intelligent Pakistani. Too bad most Pakistanis still believe that it their right to select who rules in Afghanistan and which country they can associate with.

SB Jun 18, 2016 01:46pm

Half True - "Americans have finally concluded that Pakistan is uninterested in having an elected government in Kabul" --as if Pakistan is interested in elected government in Kabul

SB Jun 18, 2016 01:48pm

To Pakistani Freinds ... any answer to this observation .. "Few in Pakistan care to remember Iran’s support to Pakistan during the 1965 and 1971 wars, or wonder how we lost an ally."

vvd Jun 18, 2016 02:05pm

A very fine & balanced write up.Summed up neatly what requires to be done & by whom.

Muqeem Jun 18, 2016 02:39pm

There are logical conclusions but i disagree to some extent as the writer have held responsible pakistan for the scuffle between neighbouring countries includinf India, Iran, Afghanistan nd B.D. A realistic balanced viewpoint would have critisize the hostile foreign policy of india as well ,to allienate Pakistan. Every action has reaction. When India supports insurgency in Balochistan, Make nexus with NDS to destabilise the already volatile frontier regions , creating hurdles in the implementation of the only MultiBillion project and try to unbalance the nuclear Balance in region , then expecting a soft ,friendly hand from pakistan is like living in fools paradise. The Article might have gained more weight if this scenario would have been discussed.

Dr.M.M.Khan Jun 18, 2016 02:48pm

A well written article

shakeel ahmed Jun 18, 2016 03:18pm

mesmerizing and a complete article if our diplomats are illegible and government is that much weak who will guide this nation on modern diplomatic frontiers even Bengalis are doing better than us

SQ Jun 18, 2016 03:24pm

Such a well written analysis

Tamil Guru Jun 18, 2016 03:27pm

Dear Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, The entire world of science, logic and common sense respects and salutes you Sir for your courage, knowledge and vision.

Najjee Jun 18, 2016 04:14pm

An excellent piece of journalism.

Yousuf Mirza Jun 18, 2016 04:15pm

Extremely well articulated. Our strength lies in stronger ties with in the region. Relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran can possibly lead to a frame work of cooperation, that will result in the uplifting millions from poverty line.

Tough to see it happen but perhaps is the only option for a long term sustainable solution for us.

Tejaswi Sharma Jun 18, 2016 04:34pm

He is the most sensible and impartial voice in Pakistan.

VEN Jun 18, 2016 04:33pm

"Through the decades, Pakistan’s foreign policy has single-mindedly sought to counter India on every front irrespective of the terrible damage it may do to itself." This sums why Pakistan is in a mess today.

Iftikhar Husain Jun 18, 2016 04:47pm

Very nice observations 5thye killing of Mansoor has shown thjat the border of Pakistan is very porous and any Afghan can come in but thje tragedy that Mansoor had Pakistani passport and identity card shows how easy it is to get papers in Pakistan. Army mis right to protest for drone because it is their duty to protect the country.

Tahir A Jun 18, 2016 04:47pm

The other journalism talents of a great physicist. Fantastic analysis.

Kamran Jun 18, 2016 04:52pm

"Fazlullah is to Pakistan what Mansour was to Afghanistan." Sir it shall be more appropriate saying what Mansour was for "US forces" in Afghanistan.

Yousaf Bangash Jun 18, 2016 05:07pm

Well written article

Hashim Jun 18, 2016 05:10pm

The reason the Saudis and Emiratis are courting modi is because Pakistan refused to join their war against Yemen.

Aleem Jun 18, 2016 05:17pm

I agree with Hoodbhoy which is rare, but he is on point with this opinion.

paban kumar Jun 18, 2016 05:18pm

A really good article to look way forward for Pakistan .

paban kumar Jun 18, 2016 05:22pm

@Shalone . Please read the article of Mr Irfan Hussain. He is also very courageous writer who writes in social issues of Pakistan. I would like to thank' The Dawn' for having such excellent writers.

Ilias Jun 18, 2016 05:32pm

The most suitable solution of this triangle is to resolve Kashmir matter, I'm sure after that our region ( South Asia ) will boom economically with prosperity all around !

Hasnat Aslam Jun 18, 2016 05:42pm

great analysis, simplified to be understood. I truly believe a stable Pakistan is very good for the region, I wish this neighbor country becomes wise fight other problems such as illiteracy, poverty etc.

Srk Jun 18, 2016 05:52pm

@Ilias both India and Pakistan need to come down from stated positions

Anwardealing with P Jun 18, 2016 06:07pm

The writer should have gone a little bit back into the history of troubled relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghans were the only country who didn't recognise Pakistan at the time of its creation. It helped And train NAP and Baluch insurgents in the 70s and Al-Zulfiqar in the 80s. It still harbours Indian agents and train anti Pak terrorists on its soil. read today's news in which German foreign minister accused NATO of war mongering in Europe,

Ednanayub Jun 18, 2016 06:11pm

Good articl,, shows the same issue I raise in my mind but Afghanistan and other forces denying talks with talibans, one 3Rd is of taliban in afg, so you want democracy there to prevail but not meeting the needs of talibans, why? They have a huge power in Afghanistan history. Whenever a taliban leader decides to talk, us drone him. You are really neglecting the main theme of this paradox war.

Harmony-1© Jun 18, 2016 06:29pm

Indians love to show either their glee, on articles such as these, or are full of snide remarks as though there are no issues in India but go all defensive and into denial mode when similar articles appear about them. Guilty conscious makes people defensive. As the comments show, we accept mistakes and shortcomings with openness and herein lies the difference in the psyches of two nations!

Rex Major Jun 18, 2016 06:34pm

@Ajay Ladkani : Well written sir.

Chaarwaak Jun 18, 2016 06:35pm

People from both sides of the border have wholeheartedly praised the article, & the thoughts of the author ...

col sharma Jun 18, 2016 07:17pm

I can make out that there are many many good advisers are available in Pakistan but for the Govt/Army or bureaucracy to listen to them.An exce;lent article to the point. Dawn is a good source of impartial feed back and information tool available to Govt of Pakistan.This article is very similar to the one written by Air Marshal Choudhry.

seth sarwar Jun 18, 2016 07:21pm

Some thing is better than nothing. Hamza ali abbasi being banned is one of other first things to happen to Pakistan. Why don't we have a consistent policy on religon and control the mosques where the Khutba is given by a religious leader to his own liking. Pakistan today is bleeding because of inconsistent policies.

Sharmaji Jun 18, 2016 07:28pm

This article confirms why we Indians like "Dawn" than the Times of India. Any article from NFP, Dr Hoodbhoy and Cyril is worth reading and pleasurable.

Is anyone listing to these sane voices of Pakistan

Ayub Jun 18, 2016 07:45pm

The problem is that Pakistan is run by two parallel governments: one by the GHQ and the other by the so-called elected weak government at Islamabad. The important decisions are made at GHQ whereas the day to day affairs are run by Islamabad. Presently no political figure is in sight to wriggle out the country of the quagmire; restore its tarnished image and put it on the right track of peace, progress, and development to the ultimate benefits of the common man.

Hussain shah Jun 18, 2016 08:03pm

Totally agree. If we as a nation want to solve our issues with neighbours politically we need strong, patriotic and politically smart leaders.

Ahmed Ali Jun 18, 2016 08:04pm

Wrong assertion. They were in talks with mullah Mansour. While we are not in talks wit TTP. YOU DONT KILL SOMEONE WHO YOU ARE IN TALKS WITH.

Mustafa R. Jun 18, 2016 08:10pm

'Fazlullah is to Pakistan what Mansour was to Afghanistan.'

But Afghanistan is under foreign occupation and nobody can legitimately speak on behalf of the Afghan people. Not Ashraf Ghani, not NATO and not UN.

KhN Jun 18, 2016 08:15pm

Brilliant sir Hoodhbhoy! I totally agree with you

Sultan ali Jun 18, 2016 08:21pm

Excellent article.

Naeem Jun 18, 2016 08:22pm

Failed foreign policy . We can a player in the region if we not focused on India so much. We should allow free transit facilities to India and Afghanistan. This will create jobs and goodwilll

Arif Maken Jun 18, 2016 08:25pm

There is a subtle difference. US forces are operating in Afghanistan under a mandate ratified by U.N and Afghan government. While they may be overreaching their power and mandate attacking targets in Pakistan territory, any action in Afghanistan will be legitimate. In fact it is combined responsibility of US and Afghan forces to ensure that Fazlullah has no safe sanctuary in Afghan territory, especially if the same is demanded and expected from Pakistan for Afghan Taliban.

Suraj Jun 18, 2016 08:29pm

As usual. , Dr. Hoodbhoy hits the nail on the head. His articles are thought provoking and a must read for those who are well wishers of Pakistan.

tkh Jun 18, 2016 08:31pm

Although I agree with crux of the article that we need to redefine our foreign policy, I almost completely disagree with the points made. First, both persons are in Afghanistan and as long as they are in Afghanistan, they are safe. Isn't it strange? Second, 1965, 1971 Iran was different from Today's Iran; It was a US ally , but it's no longer so; we are still a US ally. Third, the writer ignores that we are now a nuclear power and a war is unlikely between the two, so the priority should shift to countering India economic clout instead of its military power.

Ijaz Jun 18, 2016 08:34pm

True picture of pakistan policies but the hidden hands doesn't like prosperity of pakistan .

Analyzer Jun 18, 2016 08:38pm

Sir thank you. Truly master piece. Salute from An Indian.

rs Jun 18, 2016 08:46pm

Very pragmatic and balanced. Even in Indian papers we will not find one like this.

Taimur Jun 18, 2016 09:02pm

Good Article but we are forgetting few things here completely, yes we do need smart foreign minister this is handicap govt. Moreover foreign minister is needed to liaise with Afghans and remind them that it was Pak who fought Russia not India who was a Russian ally, India is opportunist. Pak need to invest more in Afg thru own resources and thru China. Even if India makes alliance with Iran/Afg n invests in Chahrbhar they themselves know it is failure so I dont really care of it too much, its economically unfeasible route. Afg knows they cannot have peaceful country without Taliban which is trump card and we all know later or sooner US have to leave Afghanistan. But agree we need to built our relations with Iran more stronger. Not everything lost Hoodbhay, Pakistan is reality and can't be ignored, Afg is in honey moon period with money pouring in from India as soon it starts from Pak or China they will be talking different language....

Eramanagalam Somapalan Jun 18, 2016 10:17pm

Thank you Dr.Hood Bhoy for the principled stand. Yes ,"brutal ideology" that is what all of them want to impose. There is no good brutal and bad brutal in this business, just as good innocents and bad innocents. It is the simple innocents that die. Who gains what doing all this? Cruel world indeed.

Sain Jun 18, 2016 10:52pm

With foreign and defence policies effectively taken over and run by the military, blaming the civilian government for Pakistan's downward image internationally is highly misplaced. Instead of perpetually remaining a security focused state, it is high time for Pakistan to become an economic- and education-focused state.

Qasim Jan Jun 18, 2016 11:22pm

Very well-written, Pervez. Pakistan needs peace, pragmatic policy and good relations with its neighbours.

Ashraf Quli Jun 19, 2016 12:22am

@RAVEENDRA NATH You are absolutely right. But very unfortunately the overwhelming majority of people of Pakistan are totally unable to comprehend this. If they ever read this, they will understand all upside down.

GAK Wazir Jun 19, 2016 12:49am

A well- defined article contributed by Mr. Pervaiz. We need to set our home right. What about others?

ramesh reddy Jun 19, 2016 01:32am

very good, ballenced, unbiased and thought provoking article by the writer.He is a true patriotic .He advocating for what is in the best interest of his beloved country.

Salman Jun 19, 2016 04:03am on analysis

Biswajit Jun 19, 2016 05:23am

Dear author , you are an enlightened scientist. You have a tough battle in your hand. May god save your country from sliding any more

Shankar Jun 19, 2016 05:27am

Couldn't agree with the author more!

Arshad, Canada Jun 19, 2016 05:35am

@rs , Please trust me when I say that you are really lucky that you do not have someone like this Prof. who only sees real bad things in his country. Please, someone, show me his work where has good words for Pakistan. Ok.Pakistan is real SH country but there must be a thing or two good in this country!

amit Jun 19, 2016 06:00am

@Taimur Pakistan does not have money to pay for 8 F16 but they have money to pour in India. As far as China is concern, it Pakistan who is carry out China's agenda not the otherway around.

arun Jun 19, 2016 08:13am

"Neighbours frequently have disputes over land and water, or perhaps over markets and global influence. Many disputes are unsolvable but mature leaders learn to manage conflicts, agree on trade terms, make compromises, and keep communication channels open. This is how politics works."

How succinctly put! Just beautiful...

Moby Moby Jun 19, 2016 08:45am

There is no foreign, or other, policy in Pakistan - there is only the Defense Policy. The rest is all smoke and mirrors.

Soni Jun 19, 2016 09:11am

@Taimur Afghanistan is not your backyard.. Let them do what best for them.. U feel insecure coz indians are there.. Then why dont pakistan try to change thins.. invest in afghanistan.. build schools, dams.. and make it how it was before taliban took over.. Now if you cant do that then let others do it..

Rehmat Ali Jun 19, 2016 12:40pm

The govt should thank to US drone attack. Which helped them in combating of terrorism and made their job easy. Why govt showing anger as this was not the first drone attack.This condemnation is conventional as extended previously on drone attacks.

N.S Jun 19, 2016 02:49pm

Today's Taliban which US is fighting with are yesterday's Mujahideen, fighting against the USSR, which US was supporting and Pakistan was an active ally. So it's US double standards and hypocrisy here and not Pakistan's.

Also much before the Talibans, if this is the reason for Afghanistan having bad relations with Islamabad, the Afghan government was causing all sorts of problem to the new nascent state of Pakistan, first with not recognizing it and voting against Pakistan in UN, giving space to foreign proxies which uses Afghan soil to wage subversive activities in Pakistan, this was much before the advent of Taliban, in the 50's and 60's. So this is a false theory that Afghan government is against Pak because of Pak supporting Talibans.

Fareed Jun 19, 2016 03:29pm

Nice point raised

UK Jun 19, 2016 04:01pm

@Punch .... This is what you Indians want to inculcate in now in our public. Our Army is the best and most organised institution in Pakistan. After damaging our culture through media, this is Indians next motive...... Consider India's problems poverty, religious intolerance, caste system, one of the highest military spendings in the World. See your problems first

Khwarezmi Jun 19, 2016 05:08pm

This article is lacking words on the PML-N government which has not pointed out a foreign minister.

Also, Afghanistan is not a sovereign country with forces from multiple country inside her borders. Kabul do not assert authority over all of Afghanistan which was from day one anti-Pakistani (because of the people US put inside it).

Indians using Afghan soil for terrorist activities in Pakistan needs to be pointed out.

Ali Vazir Jun 19, 2016 05:37pm

Like always, a master piece. Hats off to you Mr Hoodbhoy. Let us all send this to all those in our address book in the Pak military to learn something.

The Ravian Jun 19, 2016 06:04pm

@vazir& punch: Pakistan Army Zindabad!!

Jawwad Jun 19, 2016 06:33pm

What a bogus article. Pakistan today is encircled because frankly most countries foreign policies are impotent. These countries will do anything to be in good books of America and therefore adopting puppet policies. Do you think India will come out scathe free after decades of alliance with US? The Rand Papers identified two countries that can spend money on wars. India and China. Watch how US gets India and China to fight in next few years.

atheist Jun 19, 2016 06:33pm

Sir please visit India, India need gems like you.

ME Jun 19, 2016 06:47pm

Thanks Prof Hoodbhoy. But, who is going to consider your suggestions. It is so sad, we missed so many opportunities to improve our relations with Iran.

Atif Khan Jun 19, 2016 08:36pm

A thoughtful analysis by a Pakistani gem. A testament to the vibrant media in Pakistan - way more advanced in self-critique than NYTimes or WashingtonPost (let alone anything out of the neighbourhood).

But, I do respectfully disagree with the author on "strategic depth". The resistance to the foreign occupation in Afghanistan is on right side of history and frankly on the wining side and therefore it will be wrong for Pakistan to consider the "Afghan Taliban" an enemy of Pakistan.

A political solution will eventually have to happen and can take a decade. It is naive for the US to think that giving Pakistan 6 months or even a year is suffecient to bring the Afghan Taliban to the table.

At this point, the best option for Pakistan is true neutrality with all parties (Afghan Taliban, Ghani's govt. etc.) and fence the Durrand Line as it "waits it out", because "good fences make good neighbours". And this is what I believe Pakistan is doing.

Vipin, usa Jun 19, 2016 08:47pm

Great article.

Mr. Hoodbhoy, please forgive my analogy below to your true and wise observations, but I suspect you may not totally disagree:

It is sort of telling a smoker why smoking should be stopped immediately: the smoker already knows the repercussions but chooses to be blind/ignorant because of the immediate gratification of smoking, the difficulty of quitting and sheer inertia.

Azeem Jun 19, 2016 09:49pm

Many have expressed their admiration for Professor Hood Bhoy's article ,as indeed I do.He has merely stated what we already know but only he has the courage to articulate it and which such clarity of thought. As a solution to Pakistan's problems he asks the foreign policy to be be pragmatic and to get out of the ideological.hole. I would go further and ask Pakistanis not be so obsessed with religion- this is not to say abandon it but treat it as something very personal. This can be done even if the State is secular. We have to find leaders who don't go into politics to satisfy their Own sense of importance and personal advancement.In Pakistan this is a tall order!

Sultan Ali Ahmed Jun 19, 2016 09:51pm

Best read ever. Spot on and bang on analysis from a brilliant physicist and an equally gifted writer and political commentator. Wish the Generals thought like you, we would have had a very different Pakistan: a much more prosperous one

Krishna gopal Jun 19, 2016 11:39pm

I wish Dr Hoodbhauy lived in India ... we could have utilized such great brain... he would as much popular as our beloved ex president Dr. Kalam.

pathano Jun 20, 2016 12:15am

BRAVO!!! Mr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. YOu are right on.

abdullah ihsan Jun 20, 2016 12:54am

This is how I think Pakistan should move on with its neighbors and pursue it's National interest with the changing environment of the world and nearby at large.

Abbas Jun 20, 2016 01:15am

I vote for Dr Hoobbhoy as our next PM or an advisor to out next top honcho so he can guide us in the right direction!

Akil Akhtar Jun 20, 2016 05:00am

@Krishna gopal We also wish DR HoodBhoy lived in India......

Mustafa R. Jun 20, 2016 10:38am


'more appropriate saying what Mansour was for "US forces" in Afghanistan.'

Well said.

sourav Ghosh Jun 20, 2016 01:58pm

@Atif Khan right side of history I hope you get to live under their rule, and then we will talk they are barbarians If they were so in the right side of history why don't they take part in the elections

Ritesh Jun 20, 2016 07:17pm

Always a joy to read your articles, sir! India & china have conflicts over land, but we enjoy more business & visas with them than pakistan!

Ritesh Jun 20, 2016 07:20pm

@Voice of Reason , your comment does justification to your name! Well written!