Pakistan: Politicking on refugees

Daily Times
As the refugee problem intensified in Malakand Division after the military operation there, PMLN legislators in the National Assembly decided on Wednesday to criticise the government for not consulting parliament before launching the offensive. The answer from the PPP MNAs was that the government had no other option after the failure of the peace deal with the Taliban. Is this the beginning of a policy of isolating the government on a national issue of paramount importance for narrow party political ends?

A PMLN leader delivered a hard-hitting speech favouring the street rumour — and the line adopted by the opposition outside the parliament — that “the government had launched the military operation on the US dictate in order to earn dollars”. Surprisingly, the same leader, at a loss for a solution of his own, insisted that the government should still try “a negotiated settlement of the dispute”.

After that, a very dubious argument was deployed: “The government is trying to fool us. They sought the approval of the parliament for the Nizam-e Adl Regulation when it was not needed, but completely ignored it for the crucial decision of launching the military operation. The parliament has become irrelevant”. But the charge of naiveté on the part of Parliament is not sincere. The truth is that the refugee crisis after the military operation has created an opportunity for the policy of “isolate and oust”.

The PMLN is zeroing in — despite declarations of political piety by its leader Mr Nawaz Sharif. Why was an APC over the post-peace deal situation not called, he wants to know. The prime minister has already said that there was no time for it unless the unintended consequence was to give the Taliban time to consolidate further. However, he has promised to hold the APC now. But the objections have become more fundamental and hark back to the days of the lawyers’ movement and the slogan of “it’s not our war”.

“The Taliban issue has been mishandled. Our army cannot win this war. You (government) cannot win this war. If we continue on the way we are headed, this system will not survive,” said the PMLN leader at the National Assembly. Another said, “This operation will not reach a logical end because the government has zero credibility”. Yet another said the operation was a “drama” — “being staged to roll back Pakistan’s nuclear programme”.

All over the world, politicians go through this charade in times of crisis. In India, for example, after every flooding and displacement of its east coast populations, the opposition goes on the rampage. The only difference is that in Pakistan politicians aim at toppling the government before its tenure is completed. Popular opposition leaders burnish their popularity further by beginning to shine dangerously during crises. But this time it is not a natural calamity that threatens Pakistan, it is an alien terrorist presence that wants to oust democracy and replace it with despotism.

The media highlights the refugee problem, not to dishearten the public, but to spur the government to take a close look at its remediable derelictions. But unfortunately some anchors display an animus that is unworthy and disruptive of the national effort to stand behind our army as it battles with the terrorists and loses its precious manpower as casualties of war. Last time the media adjudged the state as a total failure in the face of the 2005 earthquake, the world turned around and praised the rescue and resettlement efforts made by it and quoted it as an example to the rest of the stricken states.

Pakistan is not fighting for American dollars, and no one is after its nuclear weapons; it is fighting the war of its survival beyond the point of “negotiating” with the terrorists. And the refugee problem is tough like all refugee problems anywhere else in the world. If the politicians stop undermining national unity at this stage, we are sure to win this war.

TALIBAN BARBARIANS.....The final solution

The final solution
Malik Haroon Rashid
It took many years for the government and its majority people to realise what the Americans and the rest of the world had been telling us for so long: that Taliban are agents of destruction, obscurantism and barbarism and that their adventures in the name of Islam will take Pakistan to brink of disaster. Now glorification of the Taliban as holy fighters of Islam among the common people has come to its near end and Taliban stand totally unmasked. Mainstream political parties have reached almost a consensus over the Taliban question. Religious parties and Islamic scholars have distanced themselves from Taliban version of Islam. Punjab and its leadership after having tasted Taliban terrorism has come to its senses and unlike past is showing some sense in their public statements. But there are some differing voices; there are still pockets across the country where Taliban are still considered as the flag-bearers of Islam. Some political and religious leaders, certain educated, influential people, few former civil and military personnel retain a soft corner for the Taliban, provide them moral, monetary support and speak on their behalf on public platform. Overall situation in the country is quite grim, tribal areas are infested with armed, dedicated Taliban. Even in the sprawling urban jungle of Pakistan Taliban and al-Qaeda have their safe heaven, hidden from the eyes of Pakistan security services. But still the general awakening as to true nature of Taliban is an encouraging sign. Let us now at this moment of time destroy the Taliban, for if we don’t, they will destroy us with whatever we have achieved in the last 62 years. If past is any guide then we should learn there can be no negations with the Taliban, we cannot meet them half ways. There exist no moderate Taliban. We have tested all available options. We saw the futility of engaging them in dialogue. We lay prostrate and pandered to their all extravagant demands in the hope that the Taliban will lay down their weapons and areas under their control will see peace. We saw people in Malakand division and Swat firing guns in the air and distributing sweats at the signing of peace deal between the government and Taliban, only to see later their women’s head shaven and their girls flogged publicly. We hoped the Taliban will lay down their weapons but they only hid their lethal weapons from public sight and gave us a sham peace. Then by stealth and deceit, like Milton’s Satan, they moved to neighbouring regions of Buner and lower Dir, began to seduce region’s young one, held its majority people at gunpoint and started enforcing their harsh version of Islam. It is the roughness, and crudity of Taliban mind, which is the real problem. This roughness might have gone unnoticed in the uncivilized, barbaric part of human history, but in the 21st century it only evolves loathing and revulsion. And more tragically Taliban commits their acts of barbarism in the name of Islam, which gives Islam a very bad name in the rest of the world. It is not Islam but a dangerous, lethal ideology, which is the driving passion of Taliban. Only and only after the skull embodying this dangerous ideology is blown up, our country will see lasting peace. There is no other choice. This is the final solution Now the peace deal stands scrapped to all intent and purposes. The Taliban have come out into the open in Malakand Division again, destroying all of government infrastructure, looting and plundering banks, beheading people, using them as human shields. In addition to fighting, the only other skill Taliban know is the skill to destroy. Destroying everything made by state of Pakistan gives Taliban a sadistic pleasure; after all present set up in Pakistan is based on Kufr as their spiritual mentor Maulana Sufi Mohammad stated in a speech. It is ironic that a puny figure like Maulana Sufi whom nobody would ever like to engage in serious discussion gained such a countrywide media attention and assumed such a large stature. This is only because his backers have big guns, and wiled power surpassing that of the state. A question was asked in a TV programme as to why Pashtuns, who believe in revenging upon people who do them wrong, don’t take up arms against the Taliban? It is after all the Taliban who have killed people’s dear one’s, looted their property, have them publicly insulted and had them driven out of their homes. The answer is the Taliban exercise unmatched power and use tactics unwarranted by traditional Pashtun code. If locals decide to hold Jirga to fight them, then Taliban send their suicide bombers, hundreds of tribal elders have been killed thus. After this locals submit and put up no resistance. So traditional Pashtun warlike spirit and their tradition of exacting revenge upon the enemy has basically failed to meet the threat of Taliban. So in this dire and critical condition only Pakistan army has the potential and power to crush and defeat Taliban and rescue Pashtuns, their land and Pakistan. To safely bring the country out of these crises we must own facts and should have a firm grip over the reality. Hold over reality and facts are the exclusive reserve of those who stare reality in the face and are not swayed by cheap emotions. Leaders like Imran khan, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and some other religious and political figures cannott have a true assessment of the terrible condition in the country. Their opposition to military option and their advocacy of dialogue with the militants is an empty rhetoric totally divorced from the ground realities We shouldn’t care what these dissenting voices say, for their aim is personal at the cost of the country and its vital interests, although they very much claim otherwise. They serve their own vested interests, not truth. If needed during this serious crises and emergency normal political, judicial and civil rights of Taliban, other militants and their sympathizers may be held in suspension. Even a democratic country like US forcibly relocated and interned nearly 110.000 Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans to “war relocations camps”. If there are people who differ with us in this effort of rooting out this militancy, and their difference only hamper war effort, then they should be silenced by force. Their cheap emotionalism will mislead general public and benefit the extremists. Pakistan needs to be cleansed up of extremists, not only in Swat but the whole tribal belt and the rest of the country. After Swat operation is successfully over, an invasion on Waziristan should follow, in those formidable mountains are hiding the assassins of Benazir Bhutto and the masterminds of various other suicide and terrorist missions against the state and security forces of Pakistan. This looks the most difficult part of the whole effort, but without it the problem of terrorism wouldn’t be resolved. Next in line should be a massive crackdown backed by all intelligence and security forces against the militants and their supporters in rest of the country. Those who survive the military action should be rounded up. We don’t have a Guantanamo Bay, so we should lease a rocky, deserted island in the Pacific oceans where these militants and their supporters should be relocated to serve their sentence. The Taliban, and other militant outfits come from us. They are our blood, and with them we are bound by the bonds of race, language, and religion. But they forsook the very ideals for which this country was founded and instead embraced a blood-soaked, dangerous ideology, which only sowed seeds of chaos and instability in the country. And most importantly they callously imposed their strange version of Islam on helpless people, not realising that attempt to impose their kind of Sharia and their confrontation with Pakistan military will only spell disaster for common people. Taliban’s crime against the state of Pakistan and its people are now unforgivable. We have let them live much long, in misplaced hope they will reform themselves. Now they will have to go down in bloody purge in this Final Solution. Only then Pakistan will rise up again.