View Full Version : PTI’s peace plan - Zirgham Nabi Afridi - 23rd October 2012 (The News)

23rd October 2012, 11:09 AM
The reason our policymakers and opinion-page champions find it hard to digest the PTI’s plan for peace and are unable to present their own solution instead is because of their lack of courage and inability to challenge the false narrative built in Pakistan since 2002 when we first started military operations in our tribal belt. In a bid to camouflage the reality that a war was being waged against our own citizens living in the tribal belt and avoid the resulting hue and cry and low troop and national morale, we ended up fooling ourselves-and continue to do so – into believing that anyone and everyone fighting against Pakistani security forces is an extremist terrorist whose sole aim is to subvert the Constitution of Pakistan and has to be eliminated at all costs.

We conveniently chose to ignore the fact that the Pathans of the tribal belt, bound by race, religion, language and socio-economic links developed over centuries of free movement between people on both sides of the Durand Line, would naturally rise in aid of their brothers against what was considered by them to be an occupying US force. In much the same spirit as when they fought the occupying Indian forces in Kashmir, freeing what today is Azad Kashmir.

Today, we continue to ignore the reality that the only thing that changed after 9/11 in the relations and interactions between the Pakistani tribesmen with people across the border in Afghanistan was the state of Pakistan’s tolerance for it. After all, prior to 9/11, did our tribesmen not have family ties and socio-economic links with people across the border? Had our tribesmen never fought alongside the Taliban before 9/11? Did our tribesmen have a bad opinion of the Taliban in Afghanistan prior to 9/11? Did this perception change in its aftermath?

Can violent elements in the tribal belt, acting against Nato forces in Afghanistan or against the state of Pakistan last this long or be so effective out of the Pakistani tribal areas without enjoying some degree of support from the local tribes? When the best that an organised army can do is to put militant activities “on hold” and urge our body politic to engage in a dialogue for permanent resolution, it should be clear to everyone that the enemies of the state enjoy a large degree of local support and cannot be eliminated with guns.

But in the days following the start of Nato’s war in Afghanistan in October 2001, who in Pakistan would have thought, especially given the speed with which the Allied forces made gains with virtually no resistance from the Taliban, that the Taliban would make a comeback and hold out against the mighty Nato war machinery for over a decade? It seemed that the invading forces had eliminated the Taliban threat in Afghanistan leaving Pakistan needing to “do more” on its side of the border with those elements who had found refuge there.

With the eyes of the world on us, pressure grew and in 2002 a decision was made – unilaterally – by a dictator riding on a wave of popularity in the country, and thus, for the first time in 55 years, the Pakistani army entered the Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency.

Only now, after watching the US fight failing miserably in achieving any of its desired objectives and trying hard to get the Taliban on the negotiating table, is it beginning to dawn on us and the rest of the world that they never in control over “large swathes of Afghanistan.” In fact, as Nato gained control over strategic locations in the large urban centres sporadically located across the country, the vast bulk of Afghanistan remained free for the Taliban to disperse and disappear into.

While the US had the world believe that the rising tide of attacks on Nato soldiers were emanating from Pakistan, over six major and minor successful operations by the Pakistani military failed to turn back the growing tide of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. The recent spate of “green-on-blue” attacks are further evidence of the reality that the bulk of the resistance against the Nato forces originates from Afghanistan, not Pakistan. The vast majority of the dispersing Taliban very wisely preferred disappearing in the rural areas of Afghanistan rather than risking engagement with Pakistan’s military and government installations and personnel inside the tribal belt.

This naturally leads to the conclusion that the bulk of the fighters the state of Pakistan is fighting in the tribal belt are local tribesmen. We are not fighting and killing foreigners who have set up bases and taken local tribes hostage.

The PTI’s plan for peace is based on the reality that the battle in our tribal belt is a battle between the state against Pakistani tribesmen who, in their own opinion, are fighting against a government that is not only aiding an occupying force in their brethrens’ lands but also stopping them from coming to their aid in Afghanistan. There is no naivete in this. The PTI is well aware that among these tribesmen exist elements that are extreme in their worldview and wish to impose these on the rest of the country even after an end on the “war on terror.” However, the major difference between the plethora of “liberal” and pro-war commentators and politicians on the one hand and the PTI on the other is that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf believes that the extreme elements comprise a minority of those engaged in the war against the state of Pakistan. After all, the tribesmen of Pakistan have been living in peace within the borders of this country for all these years even during the Taliban government in Kabul. It is illogical that they would now suddenly take up arms to subvert the Constitution of Pakistan and replace it with shariah law.