How Pakistan Is Countering the Taliban

Wall Street Journal

How Pakistan Is Countering the Taliban
The pacification model that worked in Iraq can work in the Swat Valley.
By HUSAIN HAQQANI

The specter of extremist Taliban taking over a nuclear-armed Pakistan is not only a gross exaggeration, it could also lead to misguided policy prescriptions from Pakistan’s allies, including our friends in Washington.

Pakistan and the international community do face serious challenges in confronting terrorists and the ideologies that sustain them. But panicked reactions of the type witnessed in the U.S. media over the last few weeks – after the Taliban drove into Buner, a town 60 miles north of the capital Islamabad – are not conducive to strengthening Pakistani democracy or to developing an effective counterterrorism policy for Pakistan.

Now that the Taliban have been driven out of Buner, and Pakistani forces have militarily engaged them just outside their Swat Valley stronghold, it should be clear to all that Pakistan can and will defeat the Taliban.

In the free elections that returned Pakistan to democracy in February 2008, Pakistanis overwhelmingly rejected Taliban sympathizers and advocates of extremist Islamist ideologies. But the legacy of dictatorship, including a tolerance for some militant groups, has proven tough to erase. Anti-American rhetoric and Pakistan’s traditional security concerns about its neighbors have also dampened popular enthusiasm for strong military action against violent extremists, even though President Asif Zardari has repeatedly declared the war against them a war for Pakistan’s soul.

Meanwhile, the change of administration in the U.S. has slowed the flow of assistance to Pakistan. Unfortunately, ordinary Pakistanis have begun to wonder if our alliance with the West is bringing any benefits at all.

Under the Musharraf dictatorship, Pakistan probably was not as quick as it needed to be to comprehend the enormity of the Taliban threat. And after last year’s election of democratic leaders, our new government had an array of domestic issues to address. Mobilizing all elements of national power, particularly public opinion, against the Taliban threat took time because many Pakistanis thought the Taliban were amenable to negotiations and would keep their word.

Recent developments offer us an opportunity amid crisis. More Pakistanis are now convinced of the need to confront the extremists.

The recent spike of international concern about the threat in Pakistan seems to stem from the recent dialogue between the government of the Pashtunkhwa Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan and a local movement that supported Islamic law but did not join the Taliban’s violent campaign. The goal for this dialogue was twofold—first, to restore order and stability to the Swat Valley; and second, to wedge rational elements of the religiously conservative population away from terrorists and fanatics.

The model here was the successful pacification of Fallujah in Iraq, where agreements with more moderate elements broke them away from al Qaeda nihilists. The model worked so well in Fallujah that it is now being resurrected by the American and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The goal in Pakistan’s Swat Valley was the same.

The dialogue in Swat resulted in an agreement that would allow for elements of Shariah to be applied to the judicial system of the Valley, as it has at other times in our nation’s history. This agreement demanded that the native Taliban put down their weapons, pledge nonviolence, and accept the writ of the state. It was a local solution for what some in Pakistan viewed as a local problem.

Let me be perfectly clear here: Pakistan’s civil and military leadership understands that al Qaeda and its allies are not potential negotiating partners. But, as the U.S. did in Iraq, Pakistan sought to distinguish between reconcilable and irreconcilable elements within an expanding insurgency.

The premise of the dialogue was peace. Without peace there is no agreement, and without an agreement the Pakistani government will use all power at its disposal to restore order in the Valley. We’d rather negotiate than fight. But if we have to fight we will—and we will fight to win.

What does Pakistan need to contain this threat? In the short term we need the U.S. to share modern technology in antiterrorist engagement. Pakistan needs night-vision equipment, jammers that can knock out FM radio transmissions by the terrorists, and a larger, modernized fleet of helicopter gunships for ground support in the massive sweeps that are necessary to contain, repel and destroy the enemy.

Yet Washington has been reluctant to share this modern equipment, and to train our military in antiterrorism techniques, because of concerns that these systems could be used against India. Such concerns are misplaced. Pakistanis understand that the primary threat to our homeland today is not from our neighbor to the east but from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on our border with Afghanistan. To meet this threat, we must be provided the means to fight the terrorists while we work on resuming our composite dialogue with India.

In the long term, Pakistan’s security will be predicated on Pakistan’s economic viability. That is the central thrust of the Kerry-Lugar legislation currently before Congress, which would establish a 10-year, multibillion dollar commitment to Pakistan’s economic and social system. It is also manifest in the Regional Opportunity Zone legislation currently before Congress that would open U.S. markets to products manufactured in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s FATA region. An economically prosperous Pakistan will be less susceptible to the ideology of international terrorism—and it will become a model to a billion Muslims across the world that Islam and modernity under democracy are not only compatible, but can thrive together.

Mr. Haqqani is Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.

New World Order

When one authority replaces another, it dismantles the old order and establishes a new one. This is something which the jargon intellectuals on our media are overseeing day-in day-out while reviewing the recent developments in our country and the region.

When British Order collapsed, it was replaced by no definitive order but a conflict of two orders, Soviet and American. Americans being closer to British values, decided to pursue with British order to battle the immediate threat of communism. The threat was a threat of survival and rather than dismantling the old order and replacing it with a new one, Americans focused on triumph in conflict and used their proximity to British values to their advantage.

After the collapse of Soviet Union, Americans started implementing the American order in the world (much like the British Imperial Order, or Ottoman Order, or Arab Order, or Order of Gladiators). There is nothing unusual about it and nothing suspicious. This world is full of way too many variables to be controlled by anyone as the conspiracy theorist will make us believe. This American Order (or attempts at it) is a logical culmination of that rise and fall of tribes, nations and civilizations.

Just as both societies are rooted in Anglo-sexan social code; there remain inherent differences between Americans and English. First and foremost, English is a society rooted in suspicion (which comes from the historical baggage of being in Europe), US is rooted in trust (which comes from openness and the concept that inherent good of human beings should be counted on to govern the society with minimal government). American is a very classless society (with very few exceptions – race, mind you, is a separate issue) English, on the other hand, were and still are very aristocratic. English like to plan extensively before moving, Americans are doers. Part of the reason of America being America to me is the extreme self confidence in their ability to deal with any situation that arises. There is a saying “I am Ameri-can not Ameri-can’t”. Because of this confidence, part of which comes from the success of America, Americans don’t believe in planning too much but acting. Then there is romanticism with the American dream. Unlike British nationalism, American nationalism is stemmed in some values and not in region or language. The values of liberation and independence of spirit still run deep in reshaping what America is and a significant majority of Americans is euphoric about these values.

Of course there are differences between America too on many issues. For instance, on whether the way to establish American order is through global cooperation or unilateral dominance? There are differences on whether America is better of being a catalyst of change or a ringmaster controlling the change? What comes first, justice or American hegemony? And these contradictions are providing the ammunition to resistance to American order.

But despite these contradictions, post Soviet Union, wiping out of British order and rollout of American order is in place. It is little different from previous rollouts of dominant order because it is 6 decades too late. And in six decades in order to assert itself it has benefited from the relics of previous order it is trying to replace. It would have been much smoother if those relics could have been abandoned at the fall of British Empire but for reasons mentioned above, that was not to be.

There are certain center-pieces of British order, which was carried by Americans for six decades, which need be dismantled and replaced for establishing American order. British order relied heavily on strong military establishments in empire and its old colonies including India and Pakistan. Mid-Eastern monarchies were central to British order and so was the mismatch between the sect of rulers and masses. One State solution under Balfour Declaration was central to British order to control Middle East (now two-state solution, in principle, is a policy solution), emphasis was more on governance than representation, and then is this notion of James Bond, a state with in the state, a secret service determining on its own whims what national interest is. American order ideally aims to curtail all these relics. The problem is they have got stronger and stronger in last six decades and so the task is more challenging and daunting. In this attempt to establish American Order, the old interests are going to fight tooth-and-nail. This turns this rollout into all or none. If it succeeds, it will be a long era of American Order, if it collapses, US, most likely, will fall.

One thing that should be abundantly clear to everyone is that no major global power wants this American Order to fail. China, EU, Britain (with the only exception of handful imperialists who see a return of glory of Crown), no one is ready to replace it – they have their differences over who deserves what, but they are willing to settle them within the confines of the order. Probably only exception is Russia (but it too is acting more out of revenge than any gain of its) and the nobilities/ruling classes in some parts of the world.

This whole rollout is central to our existence and future in Pakistan. The success or failure of new order depends on how things shape up in Pakistan. Democracy has to succeed and militancy has to go. If the influence of militants in Pakistan, its polity and its media is curtailed significantly in next 4-5 years, the order will succeed. If things go wrong there, it will collapse.

World has too much resting on Pakistan to let it fail in these circumstances. If present setup fails, it will not fail alone. It will take with it the new Labor experiment (and even David Cameron’s center right Tory) and Obama mania. If Pakistan fails to eradicate militancy and influence of Saudi monarchy and Salfi Jihadi ideology, the whole system will fall like house of sand. The America will then be controlled by the hawks who will again retry pushing the order (though with much difficulty) till they either succeed or collapse.

Indians miscalculated the centrality of Pakistan in its response post-Mumbai, and have been made to understand what it was. If the present setup falls, it will lead to embargoes and an all out military assault. If Iraq and Pakistan succeed, monarchies will go through a ripple-effect across the region inspired by prosperity and freedom (and mind you the freedom for fundos like Talat Husains and Kashif Abbasis and Ansar Abbasis to utter their nonsense on TV is not what freedom is).

If the order fails, with none to replace, it will lead to a vacuum and a complete chaos and bloodshed spanning decades. That chaos, coupled with religious mythologies, provides a perfect backdrop for some psychos to try to orchestrate the arrival of a fake Christ or Mehdi or Messiah (this psycho disorder exists all around) fueling the religious passion in the era of chaos.

If the order succeeds, America is here to stay for a few decades/ centuries as dominant power. In cycles of rise and fall of nations – it will go one day too and will be replaced by more potent and strong order – hopefully even better in the true spirit of human evolution. I don’t care what my Urban Educated Countrymen label me, I have to say what I believe is right. The world has a lot to gain from smooth transition of order and if it fails, we all pay the price – may be except a handful of Monarchs, Ayatullahs, and Defense Contractors. Let us be on the side where we benefit. It is not a war against the religion – it’s a war against an old order that has outlived its utility. Khatre main Islam nahin!

posted by Ali Malik at 9:07 AM
Courtesy: http://demopak.blogspot.com

A new resolve? – Dawn Editorial

WITH districts around Swat seemingly falling like ninepins, the state has been shockingly ambivalent about it plans to restore its writ in northern Pakistan. But yesterday it appeared that the Pakistan Army has finally awoken from its slumber. The message from the chief himself, Gen Kayani: the militants will not be allowed to run amok and order will be restored. So far the army’s wait-and-watch policy in Malakand division has had dangerous consequences. Buner is now in the militants’ hands and IDPs are pouring into neighbouring districts, especially Swabi, Mardan and Haripur. Meanwhile, Shangla has been penetrated by the militants and Swabi and Mardan are the next likely targets. Shrewdly taking advantage of the cessation in hostilities in the valley, militants from Swat fanned out into neighbouring areas, expanding the theatre in which they will have to be taken on and ensuring that an even messier fight lies ahead.

Why has the army waited? It claims the ‘operational pause’ was meant to give a chance to the forces of reconciliation and not as a concession to the militants. Now that the army has sensed the panic among the people and seen the militants’ determination to expand their territorial control, it has pledged to achieve ‘victory’ against terrorism and militancy ‘at all costs.’ We hope this resolve will not melt in the days ahead. But two points regarding the overall war against militancy need to be flagged. One, the army has been particularly agitated by the recent spate of foreign comments that Pakistan is on the verge of collapse and that the army is unwilling or unable to defeat militancy. Gen Kayani’s forceful statement that the army ‘never has and never will hesitate to sacrifice, whatever it may take, to ensure [the] safety and well-being’ of Pakistan’s people and its territorial integrity should be noted in foreign capitals. Whatever the suspicions, the Pakistan Army is an indispensable element in any successful strategy against militancy in Pakistan and the region generally, and riling the army high command to score a few public points cannot be part of a sound strategy.

The second point concerns the political component here in Pakistan. While the Pakistan Army isn’t under the full control of the civilians, it has made it clear that it will only fight when there is a political consensus for it to do so. Thus far the politicians have been woefully divided; whether the dissenters blame America as the root cause of militancy or harp on about fuzzy ideas of dialogue, they have not been able to unite on the need to take on the militants militarily. That discord may finally be changing. The PML-N, the PML-Q and the religious parties have voiced concerns about militants on the march, while the MQM has come out as the foremost critic of the peace deal in Swat. It is not clear yet whether they will support the military option, but the army cannot fail to note that the politicians are at last beginning to agree on the seriousness of the threat of militancy.

Real Issues, Hard Questions

Ever since the video of Taliban’s brutal flogging of a 17-year old girl appeared on youtube and media, the spin doctors of fundos in their hallmark way are out to divert attention from the key issue. Some were saying it’s wrong because it was not the State which authorized this punishment, others were questioning the conduct of the trial, and then came the biggest diversion that the video is fabricated and some US-conspiracy to malign Islamists. And in this spinning what has lost is the real issues and real questions. The questions are that even if we agree that the conduct of trial was wrong or the people were not authorized to sentence the accused or this particular video is American conspiracy, does under the proper trial through Mullah-described laws can this punishment be granted to any accused for any cause? And if so, is such punishment acceptable to the people of Pakistan?

The answer to the first question is yes. Imran Khan or Jamat-i-Islami or Hamid Mir or heaven knows who will never answer this question directly for they know that this barbaric treatment no matter how much quoted in the sugar of religion or spirituality or fear of God is not acceptable to the Pakistani society.

My countrymen, it is time to ask ourselves each and every individual, this question. Do we believe in such barbaric punishments? Are we ready for a society with such barbaric treatments? What we have is far from perfect. We need to improve it. We need to be more human. We need to be more compassionate. We need to change this. We need to listen to the have-nots, we need to lift them. We need to change but we all know in our hearts that this is not the change we want. For all our weaknesses, for all our ills, for all our evils, we are more compassionate, more civilized than this.

So the question my countrymen is, should we let it continue or should we stand up and stop it? We have been indoctrinated not to question these barbaric behaviors for the fear of God. This ideology has penetrated into our media and our Govt. machinery. We will have to be the watchdogs of the system now. In their detest for enfranchising of the poor, the educated urban classes of Central Punjab and Karachi, have harbored the monster of Islamization. The whip of UnIslamic conduct has been used brutally to silence any opposition to their hegemony. You, my countrymen, have been asked to get certificate of your patriotism from Majeed Nizamis and your Islam from Jamat-i-Islami and the monster kept growing. And for every barbaric act of these beasts, they have used the excuse of some foreign-hand. Sectarian violence is caused by RAW. Acts of ransom by terrorists is done by Afghanistan Govt. And any evidence of these beasts barbarianism is a US-conspiracy to malign Islam.

And now, post-Nizam-e-Adal, these monsters are expanding even further. It seems the State machinery is coy to confront them because of their sympathizers in the state apparatus. I have no doubt in President Zardari’s willingness to fight the monster but what can Zardari alone do. And that too when again through spin-doctors non-issues get turned into the issues. Whether we fail or we succeed, the historian of future will write that when confronted with a severe threat to the very existence of not only the state but the society, the people of Pakistan (or should I say central Punjab) were focused on restoration of judiciary (which by the way termed the video of flogging of a girl as an attempt to malign Islam and as a demonstration of its objectivity and impartiality reminded IG Islamabad that he is only good for arresting judges). Can we be any more miserable when Hilary Clintons needs to beg to us to rise and put pressure on our Govt. not to put pressure on Taliban to save what is our State and more importantly our Society and way of living from the monsters who have no State and no principles?

We need to stand up now and put pressure on the government to revoke the Swat deal and deal with this menace head on and denounce these barbaric laws and punishments. It’s a beast we are facing and the beast needs to be killed. We will have to come out of psychological trap of killing our “Muslim brothers” who are barbaric enough to kill our innocent children in their schools and our men and women in their places of worship. We will have to stop this or else Taliban will keep working the way they are. Make a gain, in the euphoria of a gain create a fuss and expand, calm down, consolidate, and then reemerge. This is how they spread from FATA to Swat. This is how they have moved to Buner. And this is how if not stopped they will move to the shores of Arabian Sea. We need to pressurize the state to act and act sternly against them. We need to make life miserable for these killers and their sympathizers in the media, in the government, in the society. It shouldn’t be our children, our men, our women who die – if someone has to die why not these monsters? The state has to protect us and not our killers.

Our urban elite never got it and is missing it this time too. May be they are right. Being the haves, they will compromise with the new balance under Taliban and continue. With time they will start getting used to these demeaning treatments as well. With time whatever is left of the thought process in them will be erased from their minds. With time they will get used to their daughters being treated as a lower being. With time they will get used to a 70 year old man being beaten by an 18 year old brain-washed Talib. With time they will forget the compassion that was the message of mystics in our land. With time they will forget the songs of Chenab and poetry of Bulleh Shah. With time in a barbaric world, they will get used to the life that will be. Nothing will change. Only two things will die – humanity and life.

In the world of James Bonds who believe they have solutions to every problem, such monsters keep emerging and they go with decayed and deceased societies. We still have our time to tame it before the society we live in is decayed and deceased. It some how has become a battle between the fear of God and the compassion of human – a battle that has to be fought in our minds and hearts.

Real Issues, Hard Questions

Ever since the video of Taliban’s brutal flogging of a 17-year old girl appeared on youtube and media, the spin doctors of fundos in their hallmark way are out to divert attention from the key issue. Some were saying it’s wrong because it was not the State which authorized this punishment, others were questioning the conduct of the trial, and then came the biggest diversion that the video is fabricated and some US-conspiracy to malign Islamists. And in this spinning what has lost is the real issues and real questions. The questions are that even if we agree that the conduct of trial was wrong or the people were not authorized to sentence the accused or this particular video is American conspiracy, does under the proper trial through Mullah-described laws can this punishment be granted to any accused for any cause? And if so, is such punishment acceptable to the people of Pakistan?

The answer to the first question is yes. Imran Khan or Jamat-i-Islami or Hamid Mir or heaven knows who will never answer this question directly for they know that this barbaric treatment no matter how much quoted in the sugar of religion or spirituality or fear of God is not acceptable to the Pakistani society.

My countrymen, it is time to ask ourselves each and every individual, this question. Do we believe in such barbaric punishments? Are we ready for a society with such barbaric treatments? What we have is far from perfect. We need to improve it. We need to be more human. We need to be more compassionate. We need to change this. We need to listen to the have-nots, we need to lift them. We need to change but we all know in our hearts that this is not the change we want. For all our weaknesses, for all our ills, for all our evils, we are more compassionate, more civilized than this.

So the question my countrymen is, should we let it continue or should we stand up and stop it? We have been indoctrinated not to question these barbaric behaviors for the fear of God. This ideology has penetrated into our media and our Govt. machinery. We will have to be the watchdogs of the system now. In their detest for enfranchising of the poor, the educated urban classes of Central Punjab and Karachi, have harbored the monster of Islamization. The whip of UnIslamic conduct has been used brutally to silence any opposition to their hegemony. You, my countrymen, have been asked to get certificate of your patriotism from Majeed Nizamis and your Islam from Jamat-i-Islami and the monster kept growing. And for every barbaric act of these beasts, they have used the excuse of some foreign-hand. Sectarian violence is caused by RAW. Acts of ransom by terrorists is done by Afghanistan Govt. And any evidence of these beasts barbarianism is a US-conspiracy to malign Islam.

And now, post-Nizam-e-Adal, these monsters are expanding even further. It seems the State machinery is coy to confront them because of their sympathizers in the state apparatus. I have no doubt in President Zardari’s willingness to fight the monster but what can Zardari alone do. And that too when again through spin-doctors non-issues get turned into the issues. Whether we fail or we succeed, the historian of future will write that when confronted with a severe threat to the very existence of not only the state but the society, the people of Pakistan (or should I say central Punjab) were focused on restoration of judiciary (which by the way termed the video of flogging of a girl as an attempt to malign Islam and as a demonstration of its objectivity and impartiality reminded IG Islamabad that he is only good for arresting judges). Can we be any more miserable when Hilary Clintons needs to beg to us to rise and put pressure on our Govt. not to put pressure on Taliban to save what is our State and more importantly our Society and way of living from the monsters who have no State and no principles?

We need to stand up now and put pressure on the government to revoke the Swat deal and deal with this menace head on and denounce these barbaric laws and punishments. It’s a beast we are facing and the beast needs to be killed. We will have to come out of psychological trap of killing our “Muslim brothers” who are barbaric enough to kill our innocent children in their schools and our men and women in their places of worship. We will have to stop this or else Taliban will keep working the way they are. Make a gain, in the euphoria of a gain create a fuss and expand, calm down, consolidate, and then reemerge. This is how they spread from FATA to Swat. This is how they have moved to Buner. And this is how if not stopped they will move to the shores of Arabian Sea. We need to pressurize the state to act and act sternly against them. We need to make life miserable for these killers and their sympathizers in the media, in the government, in the society. It shouldn’t be our children, our men, our women who die – if someone has to die why not these monsters? The state has to protect us and not our killers.

Our urban elite never got it and is missing it this time too. May be they are right. Being the haves, they will compromise with the new balance under Taliban and continue. With time they will start getting used to these demeaning treatments as well. With time whatever is left of the thought process in them will be erased from their minds. With time they will get used to their daughters being treated as a lower being. With time they will get used to a 70 year old man being beaten by an 18 year old brain-washed Talib. With time they will forget the compassion that was the message of mystics in our land. With time they will forget the songs of Chenab and poetry of Bulleh Shah. With time in a barbaric world, they will get used to the life that will be. Nothing will change. Only two things will die – humanity and life.

In the world of James Bonds who believe they have solutions to every problem, such monsters keep emerging and they go with decayed and deceased societies. We still have our time to tame it before the society we live in is decayed and deceased. It some how has become a battle between the fear of God and the compassion of human – a battle that has to be fought in our minds and hearts.