Skip to main content

VIEW: The Enemy of my Enemy? (2008)

PUBLISHED IN THE POST JAN 24, 2008?

The good news; terrorists are on the run in Swat.

The bad news?

See the good news
.

Does achieving the military objective signal an end of terrorism? Or just imply a break in a long winded terror campaign.

The latter seems more probable, considering 2 suicide attacks which were only 3 days apart in Swat and Lahore in the first 10 days of 2008 and terror that struck Karachi 5 days afterwards.

Which is why reports of successful operations in Swat meant to foster long term stability, at least in that particular region, fail to raise hopes about the short term security in the rest of Pakistan. Especially when certain cities have once again been placed on high alert after intelligence indicated the entry of more potential bombers. The January 17, 2008 attack on Peshawar demonstrates the accuracy of this intelligence without altering our growing susceptibility to terror.

Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz wants citizens to cooperate with police and law enforcement agencies and report suspicious activities. What these activities could be have yet to be specified. Nevertheless, recognizing the need to mobilize local populace against terror is a step in the right direction. But to succeed, the State has to contend with a deeply divided civil society more focused on scoring brownie points with masses than denouncing extremist actions, and citizens who are averse to counterinsurgency operations against their own.

While terror remains the only constant, varying views come forth on a daily basis; some trying to determine ‘U.S. interest in a destabilized Pakistan’; others dismissive of extremist designs on Pakistan’s nuclear assets and the ensuing danger to the West, ‘the range of missiles being too limited to concern allies’; most contending that the present scenario has been conjured up, perhaps to pave the way for a U.S. take over. None helpful in terms of resolving the crisis at hand.

That some of these statements come from an international relation expert like Dr. Shireen Mazari and not nuclear experts or defence analysts becomes immaterial given the readiness demonstrated by the general public to embrace any idea that reinforces the carefully nurtured paranoia against those fighting terror. Real experts appreciate the global nature of nuclear threats, their range notwithstanding. In the same debate, a random remark that the JFK murder in 2007 would also have been attributed to terrorists is representative of the prevalent mindset unable or unwilling to grasp the changed realities. Either way the message being sent to society illuminates selective parts of a very complex picture and keeps them in the dark about the ultimate price of picking the wrong side. An article printed on 18 Jan. 08 in a local daily (The News) casually dismisses the Interior Ministers warning as ‘a sense of fear being encouraged by the government’. Yet another example of trivializing this situation underscores the urgency of clearing away propaganda and subsequent cynicism brought on by either naiveté and obstinacy or resentment due to pre-existing grievances.

Given that the war on terror morphed into a war for Pakistan’s survival , it is alarming to know that 7 years on, the counterinsurgency operation is mired in controversy; aspersion are regularly cast on its legitimacy and reservations voiced about its projected success. And while the civil society may be shaken by traumatic events of 2007; they are not sufficiently stirred to seek national reconciliation, or acknowledge that the enemy of any (perceived) enemy is, in fact, their enemy. Now would be a good time to set the record straight.

Images Courtesy of : http://www.pakimag.com/files/2011/03/Mingora-swat-Satellite-map-Swat-Mingora-Kanju-Airport-ImamDherai-Fiza-Ghat-Landaki.jpg

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

Rebuttal: ‘Finding a Safe Place for Pakistani Christians’

Published in Global Village Space under the title: Is Pakistan as extremist as portrayed by the Western media?/ Sept 2017

‘Finding a Safe Place for Pakistani Christians’ by Marijana PETIR, Member of the European Parliament – finds systemic persecution in Pakistan’s backyard, implying a clear and present danger to minority groups while bypassing an inclusive society that honors and respects the contributions of its minority communities or a nation that deems the eradication of discriminatory laws and radical ideology an essential pillar of its counter-terrorism policy.

An impartial review must also consider the state funeral given to a German nun, the national flag flown at half mast as a mark of respect and the military men who carried her casket; remark on the monuments named after Christian martyrs who served their country, meet Roman Catholic Bishops or Franciscan nuns awarded highest honors and note Christian war heroes who are the pride of the nation. The civil society that forme…

The Book of Davis - Reading between the lines

Published by Global Affairs / Aug 2017

Raymond Davis is a champ. A team player, who puts the needs of his comrades in arms before himself. He is savvy. He is a man of integrity - a survivor - a trooper. Ray, the epitome of courage runs headlong towards danger and into a minefield - literally. He is all this and more. This is his story after all.

6 years ago, he was a trained Special Forces SF, undercover ‘contractor’, forced to navigate the cramped alleyways of Lahore on a routine mission – the details of which remain a mystery. His book ‘The Contractor: How I Landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis’ with Storms Reback, revisits the scene of the crime to solidify his innocence and along the way take a few potshots at random players who helped secure his release. It’s a hair-raising ride.

His style is conversational, his demeanor - amiable. The case is still fresh in people’s minds and his intent to set the record straight ignites yet another round of controversy…

OPED: The Afghan Policy in Perspective

Published in Global Village Space / Aug 2017

True to its reality show inspired template, the Afghan strategy was rolled out after months of speculations, suspense and dithering. It used memorable taglines and inflated figures. ‘Agents of chaos’, sunk costs described as ‘billions and billions’ and going all in seeking victory against all odds. It offered to be tough on Pakistan, even as it was vague on the outlines and predictable in its deployment.

Reading between the Lines

This is essentially the new, improvised policy meant not just for Afghanistan but also Pakistan and India. With it the U.S. administration appears to have heeded the advice of keeping the enemy in the dark. They have also dismissed the necessity of keeping their allies close and have instead embarked upon a strategic vision that aims to expand the theatre adding India to the volatile mix and potentially widen the gulf between allies.

Yet it is not the public performance of the commander-in-chief that catches the e…

Op-Ed: MQM in Hot Soup

First Published in Economic Affairs - Islamabad based Magazine (Pakistan) / Aug 2013
BY Afrah Jamal


‘What was it for
?' The BBC Two anchor asks Farooq Sattar (MQM’s Deputy Convener and Parliamentary leader) with an impassive face, referring to the stash of pounds found after a raid on Altaf Hussain’s London pad.

‘Whatever it was for’, he answers, at his inarticulate best.

The word ‘body bags’ ominously flashes on the screen, Mr. Sattar changes tactics; ‘we were all laughing’, dismissing it as a joke.

The savvy anchor runs more damning clips.

‘It is out of context’, Farooq declares. ‘There is no reference to context’, he adds helpfully.

But your own SC took notice…

‘o’ that’, ‘mere emotional outburst.

Unlike those ‘media types’ this party member would not speculate on the origins or purpose of the stash. He, like other loyalists filed away the latest episode under ‘more malicious propaganda’ and ‘sinister witch hunts’, accused BBC of falling prey to Taliban influences and conti…

OPED: Why the World needs to see Pakistan’s Dark Side

Published by Global Affairs / June 2017


Because the dark side does not get enough exposure. Though this is where all the good Samaritans, the creative giants, crusading angels and intellectual powerhouses reside. It is where genius flourishes hoping to break free of type casting. It is where Oscar winners and Nobel laureates go once they have scaled the summit and conquered cultural biases and social disparity.

A vat of vice and wickedness amid a sea of green turbans?

But their victories are somehow viewed in isolation. They are seen as outliers - their great accomplishments relegated to the shadows in favor of unflattering headlines beamed across the globe that slyly remove the context and reduce the country to one giant misogynistic, intolerant, vat of vice and wickedness amid a sea of green turbans. While the worst of humanity hogs the limelight – our most prized assets go unheralded. And tragedies like Mashal Khan and mafias in religious guise along with shady men with offshore acc…

VIEW: PAF - Both Sides of the COIN

Published In HILAL (Military Mag) Jan 2010

As gleaming multi-role fighters taxi down the runway, their occupants are ready for the looming battle yet, the war they are now about to embark on is unlike anything their predecessors have experienced. If taking on an enemy with a (non-existent) airpower capability and a pervasive hold over Pakistani territory is PAF’s latest mission; seamlessly transitioning from defenders of the skies to defenders of the soil – is its biggest challenge. As a conventionally armed air force adds another dimension of counterinsurgency (COIN) to its formidable list of specialities, the reshuffled priorities have revealed zero collateral damage as a guiding principal, and an intensive inter-services planning with PAK Army high command as a mandatory element of its COIN operations.

While an impressive armada of conventional weaponry is on standby for the long term threat, a more immediate danger puts PAF’s COIN capability to the test. And as the PAF carries on a…