According to latest media reports, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has suspended the licenses of Geo News, Geo Entertainment and Geo Tez. This is another attack by establishment on freedom of media and must be condemned.
If the biggest media group of Pakistan (Geo) goes down like this then forget about smaller media groups and wait for the time when establishment will exercise their patriotic totalitarian madness over blogs, news websites, websites of political parties or even their speeches. Worst part of this madness is that a political party like PTI and a leader with great potential like Imran Khan were used like a toilet paper. The establishment did it with ease. All they needed to do was to exploit the right fault lines and play cards like religion, nationalism, blasphemy or some personal differences.
Geo did bad journalism on many occasions including in 2013 elections but we need to know that media freedom also includes bad or biased journalism. Giving up freedom to satisfy some personal hatred is a sign of slave and weak mind.
People need to learn that if you don’t like something use your TV remote. use the control in your own hand instead of giving it to PEMRA or Army. . I opposed Geo for their support of Swat operation or supporting army in this war or for 2013 election coverage but on Hamid Mir issue, they rightly stood up with the victim.
I hope sanity will prevail and this attack by establishment will fail.
Update: Next day government, after pressure from local and international circles, distanced itself from the decision and termed the meeting illegal. Still Geo is not available in many parts of the countries as cable operators are under pressure from military.
Good program and a bold discussion on Army operations, Balochistan, Liyari,Peers and Makhdooms in British Raj, and other topics by Javed Hashmi and Nadeem Malik. JH has shown that he can think above himself.
مخدوم کا خطاب انگریزوں نے بنایا اور اس کے ساتھ زمینیں دیں۔ انگریزوں نے مسجد شہید گنج کی شہادت کے خلاف فتوی دینے پر پیروں کو زمینیں دیں۔ہمارے ملک میں بہت کم سیاستدان ہیں جن کی معیشت پچھلے پچیس سال میں بہت مستحکم نہیں ہوئی۔ قوم بھوکوں مر رہی ہے اور سیاستدانوں کی دولت اور گاڑیاں بڑھ رہی ہیں۔ یوسف رضا گیلانی کو اپنے والد سے ملنے والی جائیداد مجھ سے کم تھی۔ میں یوسف رضا گیلانی کے گھر افسوس کے لئیے گیا ان کے گھر میں اے سی تک نہیں تھا۔ مخدوم اپنے مرید سے پیسے مانگ کر کھاتا ہے وہ کیسے بادشاہ ہو سکتا ہے۔ یوسف رضا گیلانی کو سزا ہوئی ہے اسے اخلاقی طور پر استعفی دینا چاہئیے۔ عوام اٹھ گئے تو پھر کسی کی پرواہ نہیں کریں گے کہیں گے کہ سب سے جان چھڑاؤ۔ مسلم لیگ ن کی طرف سے سپریم کورٹ پر حملے کے فیصلہ میں زمہ دار لوگ بھی شامل تھے۔ زرداری نے نواز شریف سے ملاقات میں کہا کہ اس کا بس چلے تو تما ججوں کو ٹانگ دے۔ جماعت اسلامی،عمران خان اور اچکزئی نے نوازشریف کے کہنے پر الیکشن کا بائیکاٹ کیا تھا۔ نواز شریف نے بعد میں خود الیکشن لڑنے کا فیصلہ کر لیا۔ عمران خان اسی نوازشریف کی وعدہ خلافی کی وجہ سے اس پر اعتبار نہیں کرتا۔ ملتان میں مسلم لیگ ن کی سیٹ پر پیپلز پارٹی کے امیدوار کا جیتنا لوگوں کا ن لیگ کے خلاف نفرت کا اظہار ہے۔ پیپلز پارٹی کے لئیے پنجاب اور خیبر پختونخواہ میں الیکشن کے لئیے امیدوار ڈھونڈھنا مشکل ہو گا۔ مسلم لیگ ن کی سیاست نے پیپلز پارٹی تقویت دی ہے۔ میں بھٹو بینظیر کی سیاست تو سمجھ سکتا ہوں لیکن زرداری کی سیاست سمجھنے کے لئیے پی ایچ ڈی کی ضرورت ہے۔ مسلم لیگ ن قومی اور صوبائی اسمبلیوں سے استعفے دے تو ایک طوفان اٹھ کھڑا ہو گا۔ میں نے کہا تھا کہ میں زرداری کے مقابلے میں صدر کا الیکشن لڑتا ہوں۔ میں نے نواز شریف کو کہہ دیا تھا کہ تاریخ آپ کو کبھی معاف نیں کرے گی جس طرح آپ زردری کو بالواسطہ صدر منتخب کروا رہے ہیں۔ آج بھی مسلم لیگ ن اپنی سیاست سے پیپلز پارٹی کی مدد کر رہی ہے۔ ہم عدلیہ سے یکجہتی کا اظہار کریں گے کہ قوم آپ کے ساتھ کھڑی ہے۔ عدالت کا فیصلہ آنے کے بعد حکومت نے نہ مانا تو پھر پارے پاکستان کو پیرالائز کر دیں گے۔ ہم کوئٹہ گئے لوگوں نے ہمارا بہت محبت کے ساتھ استقبال کیا۔ ہم بلوچستان جاتے ہی نہیں ہیں کہ وہاں کسی کی بات سنیں۔ مسلم لیگ ن استعفے دے کر اسمبلیوں سے باہر آئے تو پھر ہم ان کو ساتھ لے کر چلیں گے۔جاوید ہاشمی
It’s not a secret that every sane Pakistani is sick of current plutocracy and military-feudal alliance. We are also stuck into an unwanted foreign war and now as a result of this we are in a self-destruction mode.
To come out of this every Pakistani who believes in the concepts of Justice and Freedom must do its best in whatever capacity suitable for individuals.
Politics of the country is going on a another potentially significant turning point today as two largest cities will see opposing ideologies on the streets. On one hand people who support the cause of justice and freedom will be there at Minar e Pakistan on the call of Pakistani philanthropist, ex-cricketer and politician, Imran Khan and on the other hand forces of status quo under the leadership of so-called Quaid e Tehreek Altaf Hussain will hold a rally in support of their beloved president Zardari. It is such a hypocrisy that after killing 100s of men from each other’s parties they are still sitting in the same government and supporting each other. Any sensible person in Karachi which is supposed to be the most educated city of Pakistan should not support this fraud with the country and its people.
We support the cause for humanity, justice and freedom and encourage everyone, who can go to Minar e Pakistan today, to go and support the movement.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday said his party would take the issue of drone attacks to the International Court of Justice and appreciated the resolve of the founder of a UK-based legal action charity, Reprieve, to knock on the doors of international courts against such strikes.
He said war was too serious a matter to be left to the generals, while a grand Jirga from Waziristan, through a unanimous resolution, called upon Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take note of the drone attacks and hold an independent and transparent probe into the matter.
The Jirga was co-organised by Reprieve and the Foundation for Fundamental Rights to raise awareness about the drone assaults and firm up a line of action on how to halt them. The Jirga demanded of the Pakistani military to stop its operation in Waziristan and said the tribal people were capable of tackling the menace of militancy on their own.
The largely-attended forum urged the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN Special Envoy on Extra Judicial Killings Christof Heyns to help halt the US hegemony, mass killings of tribal people and undermining of Pakistan’s sovereignty by drone attacks.
Various participants cautioned that after failing in Afghanistan, the US was looking for an excuse to attack Pakistan. Speakers heaped praise on Reprieve founder Clive Stafford Smith, as well as on Shahazad Akbar of the Foundation of Human Rights for their endeavours to legally fight the drones’ issue and highlight it at different forums. Jemima Khan, the ex-wife of PTI chief Imran Khan, also attended the Jirga session.
Imran Khan, during his speech here at a local hotel, quoted France’s ex-prime minister Georges Clemenceau and said war was too serious a matter to be left to the generals. He said generals were handling the tribal areas’ policy with the civilian puppet government having no say at all.
Imran said the situation was no different in the US where generals, such as Petraeus, handled the Afghan policy and had no plan-B. The PTI chief said the anti-terrorism war was adding to the number of militants and intensifying militancy, and those who lost their relatives looked for revenge, either becoming militants or supporting the militancy.
Later, Imran addressed a rally of his party here at the D-Chowk near parliament and said every minute of the National Assembly proceedings consumed Rs66,000 but its members could not get a unanimous resolution against the drone strikes implemented.
Imran said it was a matter of shame that sessions of the lower house of parliament were costing the national exchequer so much but in return legislators had failed to come up to the nation’s expectations.
Amid chants of ‘shame, shame’, the PTI chief said the APC resolution had clearly said that if the US did not stop drones, the Nato supply would be blocked. “Did the MNAs do so? Instead, drones continue to hit Fata,” he said.
He called President Asif Ali Zardari ‘Sadar Zardari, Bari Bemari’ and said: “We have no hopes in him, since he is a beneficiary of the NRO, which has bound him to silently support drones and remain loyal to the US”.
Similarly, Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, whom he called the Dengue Brothers, have also disappointed everyone, Imran said. He asked why they were holding a public meeting in Lahore whereas Zardari was sitting in Islamabad.
PTI workers warmly welcomed Clive Smith, when Imran invited him to express his views on the matter. “What we need is your support and a pat on the back to take forward the issue. We need evidence,” he remarked.
Clive Smith said: “We will be going to the US, France, Germany and other European countries to raise the issue”. He described drone attacks on Waziristan as a criminal offence.
Earlier, the rally participants endorsed the resolution, adopted by the Waziristan Grand Jirga, by raising their hands. The Jirga’s resolution confirmed that US spy agency CIA was responsible for the drone attacks in Pakistan and such strikes were being carried out by CIA agents sitting in Pakistan and abroad, which was a flagrant violation of the country’s laws as well as international laws.
The proceedings were bumpy, as at one point, Kamran Khan, an MNA from Fata, and a tribal elder, Khan Marjan, exchanged hot words (mostly in Pashto), accusing each other of being non-serious about drones.
The images of collateral damage caused so far by drone strikes were shown on a projector and saddened the audience. Mutilated bodies of children and elderly people were painful for the viewers who watched with disbelief.
The resolution noted that Fata, particularly the North and South Waziristan Agencies, were part of Pakistan and its inhabitants were Pakistani citizens under Article 1 of the Constitution. However, the state and its institutions had failed to safeguard the fundamental human rights there such as the right to live. It also noted that attacks were mostly inflicted during late night so that the tribal people could remain in grip of fear and insecurity.
The resolution confirmed that drone assaults were mostly carried out on residential areas and homes, resulting into the deaths of innocent women and children.
APP adds: Addressing the rally, Imran Khan condemned what he called the ‘criminal silence’ of non-government organisations (NGOs) on drones that claimed to be champions of human rights. He asked the government to quit if it could not take action in this regard and said civilian casualties because of the drones were increasing with each passing day.
He said the judiciary was independent, but some people were a major hurdle in the way of the implementation of the Supreme Court’s decisions. He demanded the implementation of the resolution adopted in the recently-held All Parties Conference. “After coming into power, the PTI will introduce an economic system that will protect the rights of consumers and investors, and will convince foreigners to invest in Pakistan,” he added.
By Hammad Cheema
Imran Khan, Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), has expressed his disgust and anger over the way the whole Dr Aafia Siddiqui case has ended in what is clearly a travesty of justice. He has demanded three things from the State of Pakistan and the USA:
First: the Pakistani people have a right to know how Dr Aafia Siddiqui, with three minor children, landed up in Bagram Base. He demanded that the Pakistan government needs to answer this clearly as does the US. Did the Pakistani authorities covertly hand over Dr Siddiqui with her young children to the Americans? Or did the Americans kidnap her in Pakistan and successfully take her out into Afghanistan? What has been the fate of her children, since two of them are still missing?
How could a frail woman manage to attack US soldiers who surrounded her? Did she suddenly acquire superwoman or bionic abilities?
Second: Why has the Pakistan government not taken proper action to ensure her return to Pakistan? Are they not aware of the fact that apart from the injustice and abuse of a Pakistani woman, the injustice meted out to Dr Aafia is going to add to the difficulties of the Pakistani military’s fight in the tribal belt as well as increasing anti-Americanism and extremism? For Pakistan this will create more space for militancy.
Just as the Lal Masjid episode was a watershed for a qualitative change in the rising tide of militancy and extremism, so the Dr Aafia sentencing will become another watershed in this direction of creating more space for extremism and militancy.
Three: Who aided and abetted the Americans in Pakistan? The Pakistan government must not only expose those who aided and abetted the kidnapping of Dr Aafia, but must also mete out exemplary punishment to them. In 2003 when Imran Khan contacted Dr Aafia’s mother in order to give a statement in Aafia’s support, her mother was terrified and told Imran that she had been warned that if any such statements were made, Dr Aafia would be killed.
It is a national shame that the state of Pakistan, instead of protecting its citizens, has been aiding and abetting in their disappearances, their torture and their abuse. It is time to put an end to all this lest the nation take things into their own hands.
An interesting discussion on the future of Pakistan was organized by Intelligence Squared and Evening Standard Newspaper. The speakers invited were Imran Khan, Anatol Lieven, General Sir David Richards, Farzana Shaikh, Jaswant Singh, William Dalrymple and Jonathan Paris.
At the end of the discussion audience voted against the US and Western support for operations in Pakistan.
Below is the link to watch the discussion.
A Must Watch Episode Of Islamabad Tonight On Negotiations With Taliban.
Islamabad Tonight – 28th January 2010
Featuring PTI Chairman Imran Khan,Taliban leader Mullah Zaeef, General (R) Aslam Baig,Mushahid Hussain of PML-Q, Lt. General (R) Ali Jan Orakzai with Nadeem Malik as host.
We need to think our way out of this war against humanity and peace for the sake of innocent lives we are losing everyday.
US-led war in Afghanistan ‘unwinnable’–> Imran Khan interview by PressTV,Video of IK discussing so called war against terror
The following is the highlights of Press TV’s exclusive interview with the Chairman of Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice), Imran Khan.
Press TV: Imran, the last time we spoke there was a different president running Pakistan and there was a different president in the White House. What has happened since then?
Imran Khan: When the 2008 elections came, the Bush administration wanted a similar puppet to replace Musharraf and that puppet turned out to be Asif [Ali] Zardari. So both the puppets allowed the Americans to attack Pakistani territories where they have killed — according to the government — so far 14 al-Qaeda in 60 drone attacks and 700 innocent civilians. So, everyone who knows anything about the area knows that these drone attacks are counter-productive. They might have killed 14 al-Qaeda, but they have produced thousands more al-Qaeda sympathizers. Every civilian that dies, the family then seeks revenge against the Americans and the Pakistani army, which is considered to be a stooge of the American army. So, therefore, Pakistan has seen chaos and unfortunately we do not have the leadership in Pakistan which can stand up and tell the Americans that it is a failed strategy and there needs to be a completely different strategy. Because this is a dollar-addicted leadership, it allows Americans to do anything, uses its own army against its own people for US dollars.
Press TV: Does it mean that the man in the White House, Barack Obama, is he better than his predecessor?
Imran Khan: What we have seen under President Obama is an escalation in Afghanistan. And, unfortunately, he does not give us the confidence that he has a proper grasp of that what is going on there. The tactics that are being used in Afghanistan are only making the problem worse. What was initially the Taliban resistance to the US, has now morphed into a Pashtun resistance, a Pashtun independence struggle against foreign occupation. And it is exactly the same situation as the Soviets faced in Afghanistan in the Pashtun areas. It is only a matter of time before it spreads to the Tajik and Uzbek areas. So, almost eighty percent of Afghanistan is involved in resistance struggle against the Americans. I do not see any strategy at this moment which is going to address this problem. I think if the current strategy is followed, the things will get from bad to worse.
Press TV: But it is not just the Americans is it? It’s the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who is also in agreement with President Obama about the policy in Afghanistan. Who is advising them?
Imran Khan: Well, as for the British Prime Minister it seems that as if whatever the Americans are doing they just follow the same line. It is very sad, because Britain has a very long experience of Afghanistan and the Pakistan tribal areas. There is a lot of material left behind by British writers, administrators and governors about this whole area and how it should have been dealt with. But, all the lessons have been ignored. And Tony Blair, basically, followed whatever George W. Bush did. And I am afraid that Gordon Brown is going along the same lines. What can you see (you can see is that) there are more British causalities and public opinion has already turned on the war in Afghanistan. And for the first time the majority of American people do not think that this is the war they want to own or which they are going to win. Well, the reason we do not talk about the British involvement is because it is only because of the Americans that the Britons are there. So, the US really has to understand that this is an unwinnable war and in fact the war is already lost, because the hearts and minds battle has been lost. You can only win a war if you win the people over to your side.
Press TV: But the West is trying to say that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won until Pakistan is sorted out. We keep hearing about the Pakistan Taliban. Who are they? And where are they from?
Imran Khan: Well, first of all this is just absolute nonsense. There was no problem in Pakistan. It was Afghanistan and the occupation of Afghanistan that then had a problem of destabilizing Pakistan. And this is just the fact. So I just do not know where they come up with this lie. Because, it’s just a blatant lie. How can they say that Pakistan has to be stabilized and then Afghanistan will become. Surely, stability in Afghanistan will stabilize Pakistan. In fact, a CIA ex-station chief of Kabul, Graham Fuller, actually wrote in the International Herald Tribune that unless and until NATO leaves Afghanistan, Pakistan is going to descend into radicalization and chaos which is absolutely right, because we had no Taliban in Pakistan. Before Pakistan was pressurized to send troops into Waziristan and General Musharraf, a military dictator was pressurized by the Americans to do that because he was getting military and US dollars from the Americans. So the moment he sent the troops in that is when the military operation led to the birth and the formation of Pakistani Taliban. Until 2004 we had no militant Taliban in Pakistan.
Press TV: Do you want to elaborate on that particular point?
Imran Khan: This was in September 2004, there was a drone attack which killed about 70 civilians and then there was a funeral the next day and another drone attack which killed another 40 or 50 people. And that was the spot of the reaction against their own tribal people. So our own tribal people rose up against the Pakistan army. And since there was Taliban versus Americans, anyone who fought the Americans or anyone supporting America which was the Pakistan army they all started calling themselves Taliban and gradually the more military operations we did, the more we created the phenomena of fighting Pakistani Taliban.
Press TV: More than two million possibly three million people have been displaced in Swat. Can you tell me what is happening there?
Imran Khan: Well, it is very important for people to understand that the Swat and tribal areas are completely different. The history, the geography and the people. So Pakistani Army doesn’t go into or hasn’t been into tribal areas since 1948. It is governed by its own laws. Swat is part of Pakistan, governed by Pakistani laws. The issue in Swat was completely different than the tribal areas. In the tribal areas people rose up directly because the Pakistani army under the US pressure was sent into the tribal areas by General Musharraf — a military dictator. That’s what caused the reaction in the tribal area. Resentment against the Pakistani army, resentment against the drone attacks and against Pakistani army using artillery bombardment in the villages caused a reaction when the people rose up. The demand of the people of Swat was that they wanted the old system of justice which was based on Sharia (Islamic law). Before the British came the whole Indian subcontinent was under the Sharia law. So by Sharia they basically meant their own system of justice, which prevailed and gave access to the justice for the common man before 1974. So people of Swat always had this movement going on, demanding their own system of justice back. So once the Taliban movement started in tribal areas and Pakistan army was sent into Swat because this movement was causing problems, they (tribal areas) then joined hands in with Taliban and called themselves also Taliban. But the genesis of the Taliban movement in Swat and the tribal areas was completely different. In my opinion the way the Pakistani army went into Swat were to go after 2,000 or 3,000 Taliban. They displaced two million people and destroyed their livelihoods and crops. They destroyed their fruit trees and crops. They incurred huge infrastructure damage — almost a billion dollar. It makes no sense to me, because what was the urgency? Was there any doubt that the 2,000 or 3,000 Semi-literate Taliban fighters could take on the 700,00-strong Pakistani army? Was there any doubt? So they made it into a big success, this propaganda that there was some great military achievement for just displacing these 2,000 or 3,000 fighters.
Press TV: Has there been a success?
Imran Khan: How can there be success when you go after 2,000 or 3,000 people and you make two million people homeless.
Video of IK discussing so called war against terror
It was Goebbels who came up with the brilliant theory that if the government wanted people to follow its policy, it must first instill fear in them and then slap all dissenters with the unpatriotic card. Anyone like me, who disagrees with the current indiscriminate military operation is accused of being a Taliban apologist.
Let me state categorically that I have been against the military operations since the disaster of what was formerly the East Pakistan. From East Pakistan to the present Swat operation, the political mantra has always been “no option but the military”. Successive military operations in Balochistan have only added to the sufferings of the Baloch people, which nurtured the seeds of their disillusionment with the Pakistani state.
When Bush decided to attack Afghanistan in less than a month after 9/11, I opposed this US policy at every forum, including through the print and electronic media. Later, when he ordered the invasion of Iraq, I joined the nearly 2 million marchers in London opposing the Iraq war. It is noteworthy that at the time, over 90 per cent of Americans supported Bush’s Iraq invasion. Today, the overwhelming opinion in the US is that Iraq was a disaster. Moreover, the so-called “good war” in Afghanistan is being lost and its support dwindling.
It is not surprising to see the findings of a Rand Corporation study of the last 40 years of terrorist or asymmetric conflicts, which reveal that only 7 per cent of these conflicts were resolved through military means.
When Musharraf buckled under the US pressure and sent the Pakistan Army into Waziristan, I opposed it in parliament and through the media. Speaking to the editors, Musharraf called me a “terrorist without a beard” – as if terrorism is the sole domain of bearded folk. When the Pakistan Army was sent into Waziristan, there were no militant Taliban in Pakistan. As a result of the Army operation, the tribal social and political structure was destroyed throughout Fata and Malakand, and the vacuum has been filled by nine major militant Taliban groups.
Again, at the time Musharraf commenced military action in Balochistan I opposed it and was accused of backing the “anti-state” elements. Today, what was a movement for Baloch rights and autonomy within Pakistan has morphed into a Baloch independence movement. On opposing the Lal Masjid operation, some of the self-appointed “liberals” accused me of backing the Islamic fundamentalists. But soon most of the indefatigable crusaders for human rights joined the critics of the Lal Masjid operation. More sobering is the fact that there were 60 suicide attacks in the aftermath of the slaughter of the Lal Masjid inmates and a steep rise in extremism. The Swat flare-up is a direct consequence of the Lal Masjid operation.
While discussing my opposition to the current military operation, I must state where I stand politically and ideologically. My political inspiration is derived solely from Quaid-i-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the constitutionalist and democrat who believed in the rule of law above all else. My ideological moorings are firmly rooted in the political and spiritual dimensions of Allama Iqbal’s exposition of Islam, which not only liberates society from bondage but also the human soul from material desires – releasing the enormous God-given human potential.
Above all, I am an ardent follower of our Prophet’s (PBUH) example of inspiring the heart and the intellect rather than forcing ideas through the sword – a far cry from what has been happening in Swat in the name of Islam. So on no count can I possibly either support the un-Islamic acts such as beheadings, flogging of women, or forcing a way of life on others, nor am I an apologist for such people – I am only answerable on this count to my conscience and to my God.
As for my opposition to the Malakand military operation, first and foremost I believe that the military option, if it has to be used should always be a last resort. Yet in Swat, the military operation was started barely two weeks after the presidential signing of the accord without alternative political strategies being given a chance. In my opinion, a national conference of all stakeholders, including religious and political parties and groups, particularly those representing Swat, should have been called prior to the operation. A delegation from such a conference should have been mandated to visit Swat and talk reason to the militants and report back to parliament. In other words, every effort should have been made to make the militants abide by the peace deal. All along the political effort, a concerted effort should have been made to gain time to revive civil administration, police, and the paramilitary presence in Swat.
The diehard militants who consistently refused to adhere to peace agreement could have been isolated over time – a key counter-insurgency tactic followed by precise military action to decapacitate the leadership.
Assuming, there was no alternative to the military option, then while it was being planned, arrangements should have been made for the people who were going to be displaced. Sadly, and shamefully, the military operation began suddenly under increased US pressure, timed with Zardari’s US visit and with the least concern for the people of the area.
The unfolding tragedy that is taking place in Swat is mindboggling. To flush out a few thousand militant Taliban, more than two million people have been forced to live in misery in camps not fit for animals in civilised societies. Even more disturbing is the use of heavy artillery shelling and bombing from the air alongside helicopter gunships in areas with significant civilian population. Despite a heavy blackout, the news coming from the war zone tell tales of dozens if not hundreds of innocent civilian casualties.
Given the collapse of governance in the country, can we adequately look after so many displaced people – especially as summer temperatures soar? And for how long? The wheat crop has already been lost. If the IDPs cannot return within two months, the fruit cash crops will be at risk. Hence how will they sustain themselves for the coming year? Perhaps most dangerous is the possibility of IDPs’ anger and frustration that besides resulting in riots may also swell the ranks of the militants.
In such a situation, according to the Army briefing given to the parliamentarians, there is every possibility of the Taliban resurfacing not just in Malakand Division but elsewhere in the country – possibly the urban centres. Can we afford further spread of terrorism in our cities given the precarious security and fragile economic situation? Military action breeds more militancy.
An Army action which has already led to almost 2.5 million displaced countrymen cannot simply be accepted without questions. And, as if we do not already have a crisis, Zardari has declared that the war in Swat is merely the beginning of a wider war, which is likely to engulf other parts of the country. It is time to take stock and stop ourselves from committing collective suicide. What needs to be done is the following:
* The military action unfortunately is already underway but there is no political, particularly governance, strategy which is guiding this operation. That should be the first priority so that the military action does not continue in a political vacuum.
* A clear governance and political strategy that allows the IDPs to return following a swift end to military operation is needed. This strategy should be focused on a system of speedy justice through the Nizam-e-Adl and effective civil administration. The writ of the state and the rule of law go together and this has to be ensured if violent challenges to state and government are to be avoided in the future.
* The military action, if at all, should have been extremely limited in scale and targeted with precision to minimise civilian casualties. Tragically, this did not happen and my fear is that widespread use of aerial weapons would only result in greater civilian casualties, swelling the ranks of the militants. So the military action needs to be revised to focus more on specific targeting and commando action.
Will any of this happen? Unfortunately in the present mood of the ruling elite, this does not seem likely. Instead, we will see increasing military action in the tribal areas as long as the US is in occupation of Afghanistan.
In other words, as long as US troops in Afghanistan are perceived to be an occupying force that is anti-Pushtun and anti-Islam, there will be no peace in this region. We are heading in a fatal direction unless we change our strategy and pull out of this insane war that is sinking us into chaos. The longer this persists, the deeper we will find ourselves in this quagmire and we will confront a deeply divided society.
Finally, my heart bleeds for the poor soldier confronting his own people turned into misguided and brutalised militants and giving his life for a war wrought on him by a corrupt and decadent ruling elite that cannot see beyond the lure of American dollars that have become as much of a curse for this hapless nation as the criminal extremists in our very midst.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
By Imran Khan
The reason why there is so much despondency in Pakistan is because there is no road map to get out of the so-called War on Terror – a nomenclature that even the Obama Administration has discarded as being a negative misnomer. To cure the patient the diagnosis has to be accurate, otherwise the wrong medicine can sometimes kill the patient. In order to find the cure, first six myths that have been spun around the US-led “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) have to be debunked.
Myth No. 1: This is Pakistan’s war
Since no Pakistani was involved in 9/11 and the CIA-trained Al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan, how does it concern us? It is only when General Musharraf buckled under US pressure and sent our troops into Waziristan in late 2003-early 2004 that Pakistan became a war zone. It took another three years of the Pakistan army following the same senseless tactics as used by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan (aerial bombardment) plus the slaughter at Lal Masjid, for the creation of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). If our security forces are being targeted today by the Taliban and their suicide bombers, it is because they are perceived to be proxies of the US army. Iran is ideologically opposed to both Al Qaeda and the Taliban yet why are its security forces not attacked by terrorists? The answer is because their President does not pretend to be a bulwark against Islamic extremism in return for US dollars and support.
Michael Scheuer (ex-CIA officer and author of the book Imperial Hubris), writing in The Washington Post in April 2007, cited Musharraf’s loyalty to the US even when it went against Pakistan’s national interests by giving two examples: the first was Musharraf helping the US in removing a pro-Pakistan Afghan government and replacing it with a pro-Indian one; and, the second, for sending Pakistani troops into the tribal areas and turning the tribesmen against the Pakistan army. To fully understand Musharraf’s treachery against Pakistan, it is important to know that almost a 100,000 troops were sent into the tribal areas to target around 1000 suspected Al-Qaeda members – thus earning the enmity of at least 1.5 million armed local tribals in the 7 tribal agencies of Pakistan.
The most shameful aspect of the lie that this is our war is that the government keeps begging the US for more dollars stating that the war is costing the country more than the money it is receiving from the US. If it is our war, then fighting it should not be dependent on funds and material flowing from the US. If it is our war, why do we have no control over it? If it is our war, then why is the US government asking us to do more?
Myth No. 2: This is a war against Islamic extremists ó an ideological war against radical Islam
Was the meteoric rise of Taliban due to their religious ideology? Clearly not, because the Mujahideen were equally religious – Gulbadin Hekmatyar (supported by the ISI) was considered an Islamic fundamentalist. In fact, the reason the Taliban succeeded where the Mujahideen warlords failed, was because they established the rule of law – the Afghans had had enough of the power struggle between the warlord factions that had destroyed what remained of the country’s infrastructure and killed over 100,000 people.
If the Pushtuns of the tribal area wanted to adopt the Taliban religious ideology then surely they would have when the latter was in power in Afghanistan, between 1996 and 2001. Yet there was no Talibanisation in the tribal areas. Interestingly, the only part of Pakistan where the Taliban had an impact was in Swat where Sufi Mohammad started the Shariat Movement. The reason was that while there was rule of law (based on the traditional jirga system) in the tribal areas, the people of Swat had been deprived of easy access to justice ever since the traditional legal system premised on Qazi courts was replaced by Pakistani laws and judicial system, first introduced in 1974. The murder rate shot up from 10 per year in 1974 to almost 700 per year by 1977, when there was an uprising against the Pakistani justice system. The Taliban cashed in on this void of justice to rally the poorer sections of Swat society just as they had attracted the Afghans in a situation of political anarchy and lawlessness in Afghanistan. It is important to make this distinction because the strategy to bring peace must depend on knowing your enemy. Michael Bearden, CIA station chief in Pakistan from 1986 to 1989, wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine that the US is facing the same Pushtun insurgency that was faced by the Soviets in Afghanistan. According to him, as long as NATO is in Afghanistan, the Taliban will get a constant supply of men from the 15
million Pushtun population of Afghanistan and the 25 million Pushtuns of Pakistan. In other words, this Talibanisation is not so much religion-driven as politically-motivated. So the solution to the problem in the tribal belt today does not lie in religion and “moderate” Islam but in a political settlement.
Myth No. 3: If we keep fighting the US war, the super power will bail us out financially through aid packages.
Recently, the Government’s Adviser on Finance stated that the war on terror has cost Pakistan $35 billion while the country has received only $11 billion assistance from the US. I would go a step further and say that this aid is the biggest curse for the country. Not only is it “blood money” for our army killing our own people (there is no precedent for this) but also nothing has destroyed the self-esteem of this country as this one factor. Moreover, there is no end in sight as our cowardly and compromised leadership is ordered to “do more” for the payments made for their services. Above all, this aid and loans are like treating cancer with disprin. It enables the government to delay the much needed surgery of reforms (cutting expenditures and raising revenues); and meanwhile the cancer is spreading and might become terminal.
Myth No. 4: That the next terrorist attack on the US will come from the tribal areas.
First, there is an assumption, based purely on conjecture, that the Al Qaeda leadership is in the tribal areas. In fact, this leadership could well be in the 70 % of Afghan territory that the Taliban control. More importantly, given the growing radicalisation of the educated Muslim youth – in major part because of the continuing US partiality towards Israeli occupation of Palestinian land – why can it not follow that the next terrorist attack on the US could come either from the Middle East or from the marginalised and radicalised Muslims of Europe, motivated by perceived injustices to Islam and the Muslim World.
Myth No. 5: That the ISI is playing a double game and if Pakistan did more the war could be won.
If Talibanisation is growing in Pakistan because of the covert support of ISI in the tribal areas, then surely the growing Taliban control over Afghanistan (70 % of the territory) must be with NATO’s complicity? Surely a more rational understanding would be to see that the strategy being employed is creating hatred against the US and its collaborators. Aerial bombardment and its devastating collateral damage is the biggest gift the US has given to the Taliban. According to official reports, out of the 60 drone attacks conducted between 14 January 2006-April 8 2009, only 10 were on target, killing 14 alleged Al Qaeda. In the process almost 800 Pakistani civilians have been killed, while many lost their homes and limbs.
Despite its military surge effort, the US will eventually pack up and leave like the Soviets, but the “do more” mantra could end up destroying the Pakistan army – especially the ISI which is being targeted specifically for the mess created by the Bush Administration in Afghanistan.
Myth No. 6: That Pakistan could be Talibanised with their version of Islam.
Both Musharraf and Zardari have contributed to this myth in order to get US backing and dollars. Firstly there is no such precedent in the 15-hundred years of Islamic history of a theocracy like that of the Taliban, outside of the recent Taliban period of rule in Afghanistan. However, as mentioned earlier, the Taliban’s ascendancy in Afghanistan was not a result of their religious ideology but their ability to establish order and security in a war-devastated and anarchic Afghanistan.
In Swat, the present mess has arisen because of poor governance issues. Also, it was the manner in which the government handled the situation – simply sending in the army rather than providing better governance – that created space for the Taliban. Just as in Balochistan (under Musharraf) when the army was sent in rather than the Baloch being given their economic and provincial rights, similarly the army in Swat aggravated the situation and the present mess was created.
What Pakistan has to worry about is the chaos and anarchy that are going to stem from the radicalisation of our people because of the failure of successive governments to govern effectively and justly. Karen Armstrong, in her book The Battle for God, gives details of fundamentalist movements that turned militant when they were repressed. Ideas should be fought with counter ideas and dialogue, not guns. Allama Iqbal was able to deal with fundamentalism through his knowledge and intellect. The slaughter of the fundamentalists of Lal Masjid did more to fan extremism and fanaticism than any other single event.
Pakistan is staring down an abyss today and needs to come up with a sovereign nationalist policy to deal with the situation. If we keep on following dictation from Washington, we are doomed. There are many groups operating in the country under the label of “Taliban”. Apart from the small core of religious extremists, the bulk of the fighting men are Pushtun nationalists. Then there are the fighters from the old Jihadi groups. Moreover, the Taliban are also successfully exploiting the class tensions by appealing to the have-nots. But the most damaging for Pakistan are those groups who are being funded primarily from two external sources: first, by those who want to see Pakistan become a “failed state”; and, second, by those who wish to see the US bogged down in the Afghan quagmire.
What needs to be done: A two-pronged strategy is required – focusing on a revised relationship with the US and a cohesive national policy based on domestic compulsions and ground realities.
President Obama, unlike President Bush, is intelligent and has integrity. A select delegation of local experts on the tribal area and Afghanistan should make him understand that the current strategy is a disaster for both Pakistan and the US; that Pakistan can no longer commit suicide by carrying on this endless war against its own people; that we will hold dialogue and win over the Pushtuns of the tribal area and make them deal with the real terrorists while the Pakistan army is gradually pulled out.
At the same time, Pakistan has to move itself to ending drone attacks if the US is not prepared to do so. Closure of the drone base within Pakistan is a necessary beginning as is the need to create space between ourselves and the US, which will alter the ground environment in favour of the Pakistani state. It will immediately get rid of the fanaticism that creates suicide bombers as no longer will they be seen to be on the path to martyrdom by bombing US collaborators. Within this environment a consensual national policy to combat extremism and militancy needs to be evolved centring on dialogue, negotiation and assertion of the writ of the state. Where force is required the state must rely on the paramilitary forces, not the army. Concomitantly, Pakistan needs serious reforms. First and foremost we have to give our people access to justice at the grassroots level – that is, revive the village jury/Panchayat system. Only then will we rid ourselves of the oppressive “thana-kutchery” culture which compels the poor to seek adjudication by the feudals, tribal leaders, tumandars and now by the Taliban also – thereby perpetuating oppression of the dispossessed, especially women.
Second, unless we end the system of parallel education in the country where the rich access private schools and a different examination system while the poor at best only have access to a deprived public school system with its outmoded syllabus and no access to employment. That is why the marginalised future generations are condemned to go to madrassahs which provide them with food for survival and exploit their pent up social anger. We need to bring all our educational institutions into the mainstream with one form of education syllabus and examination system for all – with madrassahs also coming under the same system even while they retain their religious education specialisation.
Third, the level of governance needs to be raised through making appointments on merit in contrast to the worst type of cronyism that is currently on show. Alongside this, a cutting of expenditures is required with the leadership and the elite leading by example through adoption of an austere lifestyle. Also, instead of seeking aid and loans to finance the luxurious lifestyle of the elite, the leadership should pay taxes, declare its assets and bring into the country all money kept in foreign banks abroad. All “benami” transactions, assets and bank accounts should be declared illegal. I believe we will suddenly discover that we are actually quite a self-sufficient country.
Fourth, the state has to widen its direct taxation net and cut down on indirect taxation where the poor subsidise the rich. If corruption and ineptitude are removed, it will be possible for the state to collect income tax more effectively.
A crucial requirement for moving towards stability would be the disarming of all militant groups – which will a real challenge for the leadership but here again, the political elite can lead by example and dismantle their show of guards and private forces.
Finally, fundamentalism should be fought intellectually with sensitivity shown to the religious and heterogeneous roots of culture amongst the Pakistani masses. Solutions have to be evolved from within the nation through tolerance and understanding. Here, we must learn from the Shah of Iran’s attempts to enforce a pseudo-Western identity onto his people and its extreme backlash from Iranian society.
The threat of extremism is directly related to the performance of the state and its ability to deliver justice and welfare to its people.