Altaf Hussain’s arrest and MQM’s future

June 4, 2014

By Ahsan Waheed
ZONEASIA-PK

Altaf Hussain ArrestedMQM’s self exiled (and who later acquired British citizenship) Chief, Altaf Hussain was arrested on the morning of 3rd June 2014. This arrest may not have been much of a surprise for either the MQM leader or the senior party workers. In fact,  the entire top leadership must have been aware of this imminent arrest and therefore they were desperately trying to obtain a Pakistani passport and CNIC (Identity Card).

What is surprising is how the passport process was delayed despite enormous pressure by the local MQM leadership – ‘The Mr Altaf Hussain’ did not get the passport in time.

Pakistan government must have been told by the British government to cooperate in this regard otherwise if by some chance Mr Hussain managed to reach Pakistan on his UK passport, Pakistan government would be bound to hand him over to the UK authorities and in turn causing massive unrest in Pakistan, especially Karachi. Evidence of which could be seen when the already prepared MQM party was able to shutdown Karachi, burn twelve buses and resort to aerial firing in various areas of the metropolitan city.

Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan and leader of ruling political party, PML-N, was quick to send out notification to all ministers belonging to his party not to give any irresponsible statements in this regard. PTI chief has surprisingly shown solidarity with MQM because till last year PTI chief Imran Khan was visiting UK with evidence against MQM leader and MQM leader was giving violent statements in his notorious telephonic political rallies.Additionally, the crackdown operation in Karachi against the militant elements – especially those involved in target killings – may have also been part of this “Great (Britain) Game” to minimize the repercussions of post arrest problems.

MQM will have to wait and see what becomes of their chief who currently has been arrested on money laundering charges. But there is also the ongoing investigation of the murder of an ex-MQM senior leader Dr Imran Farouq, who was brutally murdered in London outside his house. Britain’s Scotland Yard has probably already gained enough evidence to bring the murder investigation to its close.

If the MQM leader does get convicted in either or both the cases then as a party it will have to seriously strive and redesign its operation tactics to ensure survival as a major political party in Karachi. At the moment none of the top leaders of MQM possess the ability to lead the party the way Altaf Hussain managed to. Also will Altaf Hussain, if convicted, also bring down other MQM leaders and senior party members? If he does then that would surely mark the end of MQM’s legacy. Chances are that Altaf will not do something like this, at least not immediately, as his own  survival for now depends solely on the support from his party’s top tier.

But what if the senior party members out of fear of being exposed try to silence Altaf Hussain while in UK prison? This would suit MQM senior  leadership on multiple fronts; Altaf Hussain out of the scene and out of MQM, the party can stop being a laughing stock and center of controversies due to irresponsible statements made by their party chief. Senior MQM leadership will remain safe from being exposed by their chief,  MQM’s senior leadership will be able to portray Altaf as a “martyr”, a “hero”; and cash-in on his ‘legacy’ and continue to operate their party after mutually electing a new party chief. Of course with Altaf gone, there will be power struggle within the party and we may see more exterminations of senior MQM leaders for which of course MQM’s “surviving” senior leadership will blame the establishment and agencies for political murders.

Amidst all these possibilities could we be looking at a major political and power shift in Karachi? If so will it create a vacuum that will allow other players like PTI, ANP and PPP to come forward? Will we see an end to Karachi’s miseries? Would Karachi once again regain its lost glory and become a city full of life that it once was? Only time will tell but it seems that finally things have started moving in the right direction.


In search of an enemy

May 14, 2014

Threatens PakistanFOR PAKISTAN

We are constantly worried about the security of our country. Media (national and international) has made us paranoid. Based on the information fed to us through various sources (and partially based on complete lack of knowledge regarding the issue), we convince ourselves of who are our enemies and who are our friends. We form opinions in our minds and then without verification we preach our beliefs and opinions to others (usually those who have even less intellect than ourselves). This has led our mass hysteria to a national level. We have become delusional and lost the ability to think and analyze. I say this not to criticize myself or anyone else who reads this article, my objective is to come up with a way to reprogram our minds so that we can empty all the junk that lies in our heads and blocks our minds from receiving unbiased information and process the information we receive in a more critical manner so that we can have individuality and originality of thought.

Let’s first try to understand the two words that we use so often without actually realizing their true meaning. Then we will also try and learn few other words that lie between these two words, as nothing is black and white in this world (Thank God for that).

Friend:

  • a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.
  • A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
  • One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement
  • a person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty; an intimate

Enemy:

  • a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something
  • One who feels hatred toward, intends injury to, or opposes the interests of another
  • Something destructive or injurious in its effects

Majority of us feel that our country, Pakistan, is being attacked by forces which are against Islam, against the  existence of a free Pakistan and against the Islamic nuclear weapons that we possess (for peaceful purposes only of course). We also believe that the whole world is against us and want to destroy us because… because… WHAT? Rest of the world does not give a damn about your existence. We give ourselves too much importance… for no reason. Some of us believe that we are the responsible for Islam’s existence and that we have to fight for every Muslim all around the world.

Most countries don’t care about other countries irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, social and cultural norms. Countries interact with each other when they see economic, cultural or social gains to be achieved. European Union was formed to allow better and easier trade between European countries. It was a struggle for the EU. There were major differences between the countries. Eastern European countries were economically and socially backward. Western European countries were richer, more technically advanced and more integrated with rest of the world. Huge social and economic difficulties were seen and are still being addressed. Germany is rethinking its EU membership and might even exit the EU as it sees little to be gained.

South Asian countries comprise of multiple ethnicity, religions and faiths, yet they are forming trade relations with each other. They all have their share of concerns and insecurities but yet they continue to function.

Other Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait treat you the worst. They will give more respect to an American, Australian or A Brit than they would to a “Pakistani Muslim brother”. You being a Pakistani can’t even marry an Arab girl despite the fact that you have the same religion. You are only good to them as a worker! But that is again nothing to complain about. At least they are clear about what kind of relationship they want and expect from other countries.

Coming back to us and our “enemies”, we should try and look inwards. We should  try to learn the meaning of “friend” and then realize that when we are forming a national foreign policy, we are not trying to make “friends” nor are we trying build an extended family “brother”. National foreign policy is about what and how much we can gain by cooperating with another country. We don’t have to be concerned what their religion is (because we are not going to marry their country), we need be alarmed by  their culture difference (they are they and we are we) and we must not impose our religion and beliefs on other countries or even on people of different beliefs who are our fellow citizens.

Other countries don’t want to destroy your religion just for the heck of it. Its what kind of a message we send out to other nations around the world. Right now we are sending out a message of hate and intolerance. We are telling rest of the world that their religion is wrong, their social values are wrong and unless they all convert to Islam we will come and kill you… just like we are killing our own fellow citizens in Pakistan!

So lets make a list of what qualities and traits an enemy of pakistan must possess to actually qualify as an enemy:

  • Does he have to be a non-Muslim (also unacceptable Muslim sects)?
  • Does he have to be a Jew or a Hindu?
  • Are all Americans anti-Pakistan?
  • … and you can think up add more enemy traits to this list.

What we need to realize is that Pakistan does not have any enemies as such, except for India which makes sense because first Muslims invaded their territory, then we destroyed their temples and then ruled them till the British took over India. Then we demanded a separate country and India was divided to form Pakistan. So they have a reason to hate us but even that can be handled. Had the British resolved the Kashmir dispute before partition of 1947, then our  relations with India could have been much better.

But our real enemies are people from our own country who claim to be saviors of Pakistan yet they leave no opportunity to eat it hollow like a termite. People who have formed political parties based either on family dynasties or ethnicity. For decades Pakistan is being ruled by corrupt civil and military leaders. In Balochistan, Sardars have suppressed the Balochi people and denied them of basic rights like health care, education and right to live a free life. In Sindh vadeera culture still exists and the common people live like slaves. Politco-Ethnic violence based on territorial claims by drugs and land mafia has destroyed the beautiful city of Karachi. Punjab has its own set of problems, few ultra-rich corrupt political families own majority of large businesses dominate the political scene and have been taking turns ruling the masses. Northern Areas still remain in the grip of violence. No government in paid enough attention to setup development projects and provide employment to the youth. Militant religious groups dominate the region and the area remains a constant conflict zone.

If Pakistan stops thinking of its National Foreign Policy as a matter of honour and service to Islam and all other Muslim countries (Who don’t give a dash about us), than we can quickly move forward in a positive direction. We don’t have to make friends, we don’t have to make enemies… we just need to make some strategic allies that will help us become a stronger and more stable country that will seem less threatening to rest of the world.


The ‘other’ martyrs

May 12, 2014

By FOR PAKISTAN

martyrsThis week, Rashid Rehman joined the ranks of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. A brave and courageous man, Rehman was the only lawyer in south Punjab brave enough to defend Junaid Hafeez, a visiting professor at Bahauddin Zakriya University now called a blasphemy accused. And he was murdered for it.

Rehman’s legacy was larger than life: nephew to famed activist IA Rehman, son of a former ambassador Ashfaq Ahmed Khan, Rehman himself has been the Human Rights Commission Pakistan south Punjab coordinator since 1987 – only three years after he started his practice as a lawyer. Rehman has since been the defence lawyer for 228 blasphemy cases and 6,220 human rights cases including Mukhtaran Mai’s case. Rehman will be remembered, there is no doubt of that, a symbol of what it means to stand for individual beliefs in a country that has surely been abandoned by God.

There is a debate within legal cadres that seeks to determine whether Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are the root of these forms of violence. Do we blame the law or do we blame its misuse by the society?

The blasphemy law Section 295- A (insulting religion or religious beliefs) was introduced to the Indian Penal Code of 1860 in 1927 to prevent Hindu-Muslim rioting. This was a preemptive law with the intent to prevent violent acts by religious groups wherein ideological differences between religions play out in violent ways. Between 1927 and 1986 there were less than 10 reported cases of blasphemy. Furthermore, the maximum punishment awarded to the accused in any category of religious offences was imprisonment of maximum two years.  The law was effective in as much that it recognised the violent repercussions of religious offences, and treated the offences as a precursor to violent acts. The punishment did not seek to castigate the accused for not ascribing to certain set of faiths, but to discipline and sensitize the perpetrator towards the gravity of his/her actions vis-à-vis potential for chaotic communal reactions.

The Indian Penal Code was amended to the Pakistan Penal Code after the partition. As the state took on theocratic colours, the law suddenly became easier to manipulate. After Ziaul Haq’s draconian 295-B and 295-C Sections (defiling Holy Quran and insulting Prophet Muhammad) were added to the law, the nature of the law, previously meant to prevent communal violence, suddenly took on a whole new perspective with enormous potential for misuse.

According to the Muhammad Mahboob vs State, (2002) 54 P.L.D, ever since the law became more stringent, there has been an increase in the number of registration of blasphemy cases. Three cases were reported between the period 1979 and 1986. Forty-four cases were registered between 1987 and 1999. In 2000 alone, fifty-two cases were registered … this shows that the law was being abused…to settle…scores.

According to the Dawn news article, the current score stands at 4,000. The exponential increase is evidence of clear intent of malice. Considering that minorities constitute 3.7% of Pakistan’s population, 50% of the cases were registered against non-Muslims.

Sections 295-B and C wrap up human fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution in a fascist garb that offers no security to the accused, or in Rehman’s case, anyone associated with the accused. Siddique and Zahra state that the Constitutional clause on freedom of speech is held superseded by these restrictive laws. The supremacy of religiously motivated laws over human fundamental laws points towards withering humanism in society. At the same time, the laws also allow for exercise of fascist supremacy over those the law does not protect.

Dawood I Ahmed raises an interesting question: Was Salman Taseer’s killer motivated to pull the trigger because of a law? He argues that the law never sought to oppress, rather to preempt oppression. The root of communal violence in matters of blasphemy, Ahmed argues, is social malaise. Instead of myopically focusing on amending the blasphemy law, he says, pressure and activist groups should be focusing on changing social norms through more subtle and effective forums — the media, schools, mosques and so forth.

Blasphemy is a victimless crime. In the case of Joseph Colony, it took one supposed offensive thought, to set fire to the homes of over 200 families. The perpetrators were many, only 83 were named and set free on bail within days. Last week the Lahore High Court turned down the Prosecution Department’s request to overturn their bails as they had been accused of terrorism. The LHC dismissed the request. It observed that they had been granted bail due to lack of evidence. None of the victims were willing to come forward to testify against them out of fear and there was nothing to tie those men with the incident, expect for the complainants’ word. Using this line of reasoning, it is baffling to see how then the sessions court could sentence Sawan Masih to death. The hundreds of victims of the torching incident who are without justice are trying left right and centre to leave the country. According to NGO details, even families associated with the victims have been trying to flee the country. Vulnerable communities flee the blasphemy monster that could arise at any whim, any fancy, of anyone they might hold a grudge with.
These are dangerous times. The argument that misuse of a law doesn’t make it bad in itself is flawed because of the license of abuse it offers. From being a preventative law to being a tool for oppression, Sections 295 A, B and C reveal the inherent fascism inherent in the very structure we call state.

The government cannot do much in this case. Already it has been cowed into removing the option of a military offensive against terrorists who have bled this country for over a decade and a half. With allegations of close ties with militant organisations, it should come as no surprise that the government has offered no security, constitutional or physical, to vulnerable groups.

Rehman was but one man trying to staunch a gaping wound this country has been bleeding from since the 1980s. There is no hope that his killers will be caught. The AFP reported that lawyers had gone on a strike on Thursday in protest against the murder of their colleague. Local news reports however reveal that the ‘protest’ was meagre. There were few black coats in the courts mourning and more at home lauding the vigilantes who had finally removed the man who defended the weak.
There is no room for respite in a country governed by the law of the jungle. But this needs to change on priority. Provincial governments must take on the mantle of reasoning with the masses through outreach programmes, similar to those conducted for polio vaccination. Political and religious parties must use their clout in redefining the definition of blasphemy and bringing about a shift towards humanism. Ingersoll’s lines could be helpful in this regard:

What is real blasphemy?
To live on the unpaid labor of other men — that is blasphemy.
To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body — that is blasphemy.
To enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips — that is blasphemy.
To deny what you believe to be true, to admit to be true what you believe to be a lie — that is blasphemy.
To strike the weak and unprotected, in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant and superstitious mob — that is blasphemy.
To persecute the intelligent few, at the command of the ignorant many — that is blasphemy.
To forge chains, to build dungeons, for your honest fellow-men — that is blasphemy.
To pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain — that is blasphemy.
To violate your conscience — that is blasphemy.
The jury that gives an unjust verdict, and the judge who pronounces an unjust sentence, are blasphemers.
The man who bows to public opinion against his better judgment and against his honest conviction, is a blasphemer.

American 19th Century Freethinker-Robert Ingersoll


The hidden agenda

April 24, 2014

Pakistan MediaFrom the venom pouring out in the newspapers and electronic channels of one media group it seems that a choice has been made. The policy given or adopted by all who are associated with this group is to use all and every means to defame and run down an intelligence agency. The journalist whose shooting triggered this shameful onslaught does not matter. Nor does the image of Pakistan. Nor does the impact on those who are laying their lives on the line. What matters is that the group does what it has been trying to do for quite some time—destroy the credibility of the ‘establishment’ and undermine it. Pakistanis are waking up to this reality and they are connecting the dots to make a picture. The picture that is emerging is not pretty.

There are some big name journalists, writers and analysts who are associated with this media group—-far bigger and far more credible than the unfortunate journalist who was shot. They will have to choose and choose quickly whether the pay packet or personal friendships are more important for them or whether they wish to quietly disassociate themselves from the policy being pursued. Some small time columnists, who have made their bones by what they think is ‘macho’ writing against the ‘establishment’ and making startling disclosures that create ripples for a day or two, are likely to stay the course and try and outdo each other to please their masters. They may also be trying to get their own back over perceived wrongs done to them in the past.

Some elected personages who had covertly begun hobnobbing with the group and its anchors and analysts should decide whether they want to continue under threat of blackmail or they want to bite the bullet and get out while they can. Soon it may be too late. Analysts who were showing up on media debates and discussions need to think hard about their choice of channels where they want to show up. Advertisers must also consider whether their finances are going in the right direction or are they supporting the wrong people.

Sometimes when you are on a roll and riding high you think the sky is the limit. You go on and on as people flock to you with ideas. Soon you are thinking of what your power and money can get you—-you seem invulnerable. You think you have the power and the means to destroy any one who raises his voice against you—after all you command the air wave. The money rolls in from advertisements and the government woos you with perks and privileges. International forces quickly identify your damage potential and give you a larger than life image. You think you are using them whereas actually they are using you for their own agendas. A mantle of religiosity and doling out of ‘rewards’—even babies— on carefully contrived TV shows swings the public towards you for what they can get. What can go wrong? There is the adage that the bigger you are the harder you fall and there are limits to the hurt you can cause to others before retribution starts. The downfall starts when small—tactical steps—taken without consideration cumulatively become a disastrous strategy. Once this happens it is too late to correct course.

Right now it may not be too late. The right choice can be made. For this thinking must go beyond selfish and narrow interests and egos. Thinking has to be about the country that you may not be living in but that you belong to and owe to. Once that is done the right choice stares you in the face. Going over the abyss and taking everyone with you is something only Lemmings do and it serves no purpose whatsoever. Step back, think big and objectively and choose wisely.

ZONEASIA-PK


The wages of religio-political oppression

April 11, 2014

By Azmaish Ka Waqt

Blasphemy IslamWe live in a political world. One in which every act, gesture, thought, has a place in the complex butterfly effect equation. Things are no longer what they seem and laws, set in place to protect and safeguard people, have taken on divine mandate oppressing the very people they set out to protect. But blasphemy is a tool of defiance, of open rebellion and is inherently political in nature. Which is why those who commit it are also punished politically. What is the way out, however, when the political machinations of blasphemy transmogrify into a tool of oppression. A means to suppress and subvert – not the heretics per se – but literally anyone.

So when a Muslim woman, who stands in court and professes her faith (Islam), is denied bail and put on trial for calling herself a prophet, one can safely conclude that this has political, extra-religious connotations and ramifications for the prosecution and the defendant. While lawlessness may be the norm in many parts of the country, the manacles of law in this case extend even to the mentally disabled. Last year, a woman school principal in hysterics tried explaining to the police that a local maulvi was trying to frame her in a blasphemy case because she was from an Islamic sect different from his, other news reports mention that she had demanded that the maulvis pay their children’s school fees. That woman underwent psychiatric tests (as she had become hysterical) and is still languishing in prison. This month a Christian couple from Gojra (the same town where a mob burnt 77 houses of a Christian colony in 2009) was sentenced to death for sending blasphemous text messages to a maulvi in the area. The defendants’ lawyer claimed that the husband-wife were illiterate and had lost their phone prior to the incident. Moreover the complainant had a feud with the family so the complaint was clearly mal-intentioned, he explained.

Even the most well-reasoned of arguments cannot stand before the fiery judgment of the religiously motivated.

When Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti were killed, the Pakistan Peoples Party led government tried to raise the issue of amending the blasphemy law. Protests and demonstrations sprang up over the country. There was a lot of burning and demolishing. Foreigners had to leave the country in droves because of the instability of the security apparatus – not even government sanctioned guards were above murder. Sherry Rehman had to leave the country for her anti-blasphemy remarks and former law minister Babar Awan explained to the president in an open letter why Sections 298 A, 298 B and 298 C must be left untouched.

If the British conquered the subcontinent through a divide and rule policy, Pakistan’s pseudo-theocratic legal framework is not much of a departure from that archaic model of subversion.

There are several ways one can analyse the virulent opposition to blasphemy in the country. The first being the internalization of the two-nation theory – the foundational step towards creating the other. The protection of oneself demands the vilification of the other. What better way to do that than through religion.

Another view is the subaltern lens – the war against blasphemy is at some level a war between the imperialists and those opposing it. The godless, money and soul sucking imperialist construct is opposed by its counterweight – the righteous ones.

Sawan Masih, of Badami Bagh fame, was sentenced to death this month as well. Lawyers familiar with his case have written it off as a series of ill-intentioned gaffes that cannot stand on their own weight. His lawyer says that the judge was swayed by his religious sentiments. Be that may, the verdict spells another decade for Sawan in prison. He has appealed his case in the Lahore High Court and his counsel is very positive that they will win the case this time. The only problem is, the first hearing for Sawan Masih will be sometime in 2016 (blamed on the backlog of cases the LHC hears). Once a hearing starts, it takes several years before a verdict is announced. In the meantime Sawan can curse his stars for making him a member of a minority group in Pakistan. Aasia Bibi does that probably. She has been in prison for several years now without any hope for parole.

In the meantime, the complainants, those with an axe to grind, lands to cease, seek revenge, can rest easy. They have condemned someone to death without even raising a finger against them. Pakistan should not expect amendments to the blasphemy laws for a long time. There is a time for sanity to filter through the layers of blind rage – that time is now. The path to this is littered with several more blasphemy cases and protestations and burnt homes but in the meantime, it’s the masses who must shoulder the responsibility of instructing, teaching and explaining the futility of protecting laws grained in hate. Pakistan’s silent majority needs to wake up and pull the blinds off such laws and expose them for what they really are.


Flagless in Bangladesh

March 28, 2014

By CORRUPT KEERAY NEWSVINE

The autocratic elected Prime Minister of Bangladesh has decreed that BanglaDeshi citizens will not wave the flag of any nationality except Bangladesh at sports events. This Quixotic gag flag order comes after the largely Bangladeshi crowd was seen waving Pakistan flags at the T20 cricket match when the Pakistani team was playing. Why this venom and animosity at the highest level when there seems to be goodwill among the citizens of both the countries. The only rational explanation for this irrational order is some kind of personal rage in the leadership that wants revenge. This is unfortunate.

Article Photo

This also ties in to the long standing feud between the two female leaders in Bangladesh. One lost her father to violence from her own countrymen and the other lost her husband also to enraged Bengalis. Under the current Prime Minister the horrors of 1971 are being revisited in the form of ‘war crimes’ trials followed by executions as well as the most poisonous propaganda against Pakistan. Ignoring the latent undercurrent of violence and religiosity that exists in Bangladesh the present government is launched on the path of promoting secularism that can be a fig leaf at best for the reality of religion that permeates life on the street. The execution of an aged Bangladesh Islamic scholar and leader after a quick trial underscores this policy. No doubt Al Qaeda is watching and waiting for the right time to strike.

Ridiculous figures like thirty million killed by Pakistan military action in 1971 and lurid tales of atrocities only serve to bring back horrible memories that inflame people. Perhaps that is the agenda. In Pakistan this negative and false propaganda reminds them of the terrible unmentionable acts of extreme violence committed on the West Pakistanis in former East Pakistan before the Pakistan Army retaliated. The Army that retaliated was seething with anger, thirsting for revenge and yearning to avenge lost honor. Even then the figures quoted by reliable researchers range between 50000 to 100000 lives lost. Pakistanis who were there remember that the Indian trained and launched Mukhti Bahini forces and Indian Army soldiers donned Pakistan Army uniforms for nightly rapes, killings and mutilations to inflame the population against Pakistan. This use of ethnic Bengalis to forge the Mukhti Bahini was the first such event in the bitter India-Pakistan history. This act by India led to the rise of militancy that operated across the Line of Control in Kashmir and elsewhere and is now a part of the terrorist menus for violence. And lest we forget India did the same with the Tamils in Sri Lanka. So the design for such militancy was patented by India with Bengalis being used as fodder.

No one who suffered imprisonment in India after the Indian manipulated secession of Bangladesh can forget the humiliation and mistreatment heaped on them by their captors. So the vile propaganda from Bangladesh is not serving anybody’s cause. It is inflaming populations and taking all three countries back in time instead of forwards towards peace and harmony. The Bangladesh government needs to rethink its policies before expediency for short term gains leads them into internal turmoil and the kind of international attention they got when hundreds workers working in sub human conditions were burnt alive.


Talking in Cuckooland

March 28, 2014

By CORRUPT KEERAY NEWSVINE

As expected the Taliban have shown their true colors and intentions. By refusing to free Shahbaz Taseer and Gilani they have tacitly admitted that they kidnap Pakistan citizens or have them kidnapped through their proxies. This implies that they are fully involved in the extortion and armed dacoities throughout Pakistan. Will these activities stop even if the talks succeed by some miracle? It is well known that car lifting and kidnapping for ransom was periodically undertaken by tribesmen earlier but in those days there was an administration in FATA that dealt with all such criminal activity. Now FATA is lawless and copy cat carjacking, kidnapping and robberies are being committed all over the country—ask the businessmen in Sialkot or Lahore who quietly pay up because retribution for reporting to the police can be swift and merciless besides being futile.

Article Photo

Imran Khan still supporting the TTP

The Taliban have also asked for a ‘peace zone’ to be declared in which they can move freely. This comes from those who have killed 50000 Pakistanis and committed unspeakable atrocities. A peace zone if established will amount to ceding a part of Pakistan to the TTP and it is the TTP that will rule there with the tacit approval of Pakistan. This zone will be a magnet for all criminals’ country wide as well as internationally. Can we afford to do this? Instead of mainstreaming themselves they are asking for territory to establish and then expand. We will be laying the seeds for the mother of all insurgencies if we ever agree to this demand.

Imran Khan has now stated that the Taliban do not want to impose Sharia by force. Really? What have they been doing so far? Why are they opposed to the state of Pakistan whom they call an ally of the US and therefore their enemy? How does Imran Khan know what they want?

Talks are good if they are for negotiating. Talks are useless if they are for stating demands. Talks are doubly useless if one side has ulterior motives. So far the talks have been useless. There could be a dramatic breakthrough but that is unlikely. More likely is a breakdown leading to a resumption of violence. And it is likely that the first person to see through the TTP game and call it a day will be the only real interlocutor we have—Rustam Shah Mohmand. The break will not come from the Taliban because they are on to a good thing with opportunities to sow discord among our institutions like the demand for women and children and ‘non-combatants ‘ held by the ISI and military!!. For the people it is mind boggling that we can talk to the TTP but are bent on a trial for Musharaff!


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