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Patterns of response

Published Jan 06, 2013 09:05pm

COUNTING a few major attacks claimed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) during the last three months in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata delineate three clear tactical patterns. (It must be noted that during the same time Rawalpindi, Quetta, Karachi and other parts of Pakistan were also hit).

Headlines during this period included the finding of the severed heads of a senior police officer and a soldier of the Frontier Constabulary in the Gulshanabad area of Matani in the suburbs of Peshawar.

On Oct 26, gunmen shot dead two members of an anti-Taliban peace committee in Swat valley. About a week later, a local leader of the newly formed Qaumi Watan Party and the head of an anti-Taliban amn lashkar (peace committee) was killed along with four other people in a suicide attack in Buner.

Four days later, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a police van in Peshawar’s Qissa Khawani bazaar, killing a senior police officer, two bodyguards and two civilians.

On Dec 19, militant attacks on polio workers in Charsadda, Nowshera and Peshawar (besides Karachi) left several workers, including women, dead. On Dec 22, a suicide attack in Peshawar left senior minister and leader of the Awami National Party, Bashir Ahmed Bilour, and seven others dead.

On Dec 27, hundreds of militants equipped with sophisticated weapons attacked a Levies post in Frontier Region Peshawar, killing two while

22 others were kidnapped; their bullet-ridden bodies were found on Dec 30 in the same area.

As seen in the light of this narration, the terrorists affiliated with the TTP have clear targets. The first target is the police and security forces — in their bid to take control of a state or society, insurgents and terrorists always try to defeat the morale of the security forces. Through a well-coordinated and networked chain of attacks, the TTP has succeeded in inflicting heavy losses on the security forces and the police in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The locations where the attacks took place show that the militant network is entrenched in almost all parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the rest of Pakistan, with a concentration in the suburbs of Peshawar. This means that militant organisations can strike at will. This also shows that the state of Pakistan is vulnerable and too weak to provide security to its own institutions, let alone the people.

The second target are those who are under obligation or have made a commitment to help state institutions. Attacks on the leaders of peace committees in those parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where military operations were earlier successfully carried out indicate that the militant organisations wish to demonstrate that their networks cannot be defeated, no matter how much state force is used.

This also strengthens the discourse of those political parties that claim that any kind of military operation against terrorist networks backfires in all circumstances.

The third target is the people who are publicly expressive of their ideological opposition to the militant organisations. They are a target in order to prove that any voice of dissent can be silenced with impunity. Fascist movements around the globe have always attempted to silence all voices of dissent.

In response to the trajectory of terrorism, there appear to have emerged three patterns of thinking that are discernible in the public and in Pakistan’s policymaking and political circles.

Firstly, there is a pattern of thought that holds that terrorism in Pakistan appeared after the US sent its forces to Afghanistan following the events of 9/11. This way of thinking concludes that all the losses incurred by the security apparatus, the state, society and humanity inside Pakistan — and were inflicted by the TTP and other militant organisations — are morally justified and any use of force against those who unleash terror is morally unjustified. Those with this way of thinking strongly suggest dialogue and reconciliation on the terms of the militant organisations.

This would mean surrendering the constitution of Pakistan and implementing the militant code of life. This would definitely lead Pakistan towards isolation from the modern world. If someone wants a ‘khilafat’ in Afghanistan, why wouldn’t he want it in Pakistan and the whole world?

This way of thinking also ignores the fact that well before 9/11, in 1992, the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi brought Malakand division to a standstill while demanding the Sharia be implemented. The first case of someone being stoned to death took place in Orakzai Agency in 1998.

The second pattern of thinking holds that all terrorism in Pakistan is inflicted by foreign hands, meaning the US, Israel and India, and hence it is impossible to track terrorism and deal with it politically, socio-culturally and militarily. This also implies that Taliban- and Al Qaeda-affiliated organisations are fighting a war of liberation in Afghanistan and a war of revenge in Pakistan; hence, if military action against them is stopped in Pakistan, all terrorism here will vanish.

Thirdly, there is the pattern of thought that suggests that the policies of Pakistan’s security establishment over the past four decades — to use non-state actors for foreign policy objectives, the privatisation of ‘jihad’, the development of militant ideological and military infrastructure across the length and breadth of Pakistan — in addition to the country’s legal and constitutional frameworks and an education system that glorifies war and spreads hatred against other nations and religions, are together responsible for the present reign of terror in Pakistan.

This way of thinking argues that insurgencies and terrorism around the globe have been neutralised through a coordinated policy of using force to tear down the militant command structure, militant networks and supply lines besides using a political mechanism of reintegration and reconciliation, as well as coordinated economic development.

It is now up to the state and society of Pakistan to make a choice.

The writer is a political analyst.

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

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Comments (7) Closed

Jan 07, 2013 06:51am
a good analysis, perhaps need to add in the last para the need for blocking access to financial resources.
Jan 08, 2013 02:26pm
"seem" to know? At least you are on the right track.
Jan 08, 2013 02:38am
Security agencies can eliminate terrorism easily if they want to do so.
Jan 07, 2013 06:58am
Short, Crisp and beautiful analysis.
V. C. Bhutani
Jan 06, 2013 11:55pm
It seems there is a complete leadership vacuum in Pakistan. None of the triumvirate ? president, prime minister, army chief, not necessarily in that order ? seems inclined to take a call on the question of US drone strikes. The US has left Pakistan in no doubt that if Pakistan does not rein in its Taliban and others who keep targeting US-led Isaf in Afghanistan, then the US has no option but to do the needful on its own. The US is doing just that. It does not occur to anyone in Pakistan that it does not serve any purpose to whip up anti-US feelings, demonstrations, and protests, because Pakistani public opinion has no viability of its own: it takes its views from what official agencies tell them. We see that Pakistan does nothing to restrain the Taliban, or Haqqani Network, or any other brand of terrorists, fashionably called militants in Pakistan, as if there is no disagreement between government and ?militants? but only as to their methods. Why should the US care about Pakistan?s ?feelings? in the matter? Someone needs to arise in Pakistan to take the matter earnestly into careful consideration and deal with internal terror, about which even the Pakistan army seems to have formed some late realization. It was demonstratively represented that Pakistan army had realized that the principal source of menace to Pakistan was internal terror and not India after all. Secondly, the Pakistan army was also said to have achieved a further realization that it had been unrealistic to have been thinking in terms of ?territorial depth? in Afghanistan vis-?-vis India. Now that these profundities have dawned on the Pakistan army, someone should think about controlling the home made terrorists, even if they go on calling them militants or ?freedom fighters?. Pakistan army and other leaders should have known that hobnobbing with terrorists was neither honourable nor even proper activity for a State under international law. Now those terrorists, freed from ?duty? in Afghanistan and India, have turned their attention on Pakistan itself. Didn?t Mrs Hillary Clinton say that if you rear snakes in your backyard do not expect that the snakes shall bite only the neighbours? Those snakes have started biting inside Pakistan. Whenever they raise their heads to operate in Afghanistan, the US will use its drones to destroy them. When they seek to act in India, one hopes the Indian government shall have self-respect enough to respond in the proper manner of a country under stack. But, of course, time will tell. V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 7 Dec 2013, 0524 IST
Jan 07, 2013 08:50am
The militants seem to know what they are doing while the State is sinking in the quicksand.
Tribal Manto
Jan 07, 2013 04:11pm
Pakistan is not a weak state, but all she needs a national consensus and integration to challenge the emerging order (response of the time). A sincere and across the board consensus where all the key stakeholders should have their say in the process. We can defeat this menace with this sincere and candid approach. Sincerity and wisdom is paramount in this regard.

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