When American media announced that Taliban chief Akhtar Mansour was killed by a US drone strike in Balochistan, the response of the state was silence. Soon came posts on social media with photos of a Pakistani passport and CNIC that were supposedly recovered from the scene. This was met with laughter by not only the hyper-nationalist crowd but even liberals. Jokes began to go around saying security forces were issuing new bullet proof jackets made of Pakistani passports. Even those criticising our Afghan policy found the situation ridiculous. How is it that a car and two people are completely incinerated by a hell fire missile but his Pakistani IDs just HAPPEN to survive in perfect condition? The answer was in the question: We were being framed. Again.
Only, this time at least, it appears that there was no framing. Sartaj Aziz has confirmed that the person killed in the attack was Mullah Mansour and that Pakistani authorities had identified him by DNA test. More surprising, though, was that the government confirmed that the official government documents that were recovered, the passport and CNIC, were authentic. They had a fake name, but they were real documents issued by NADRA. Interior Ministry has ordered a ‘crackdown‘ against officials for issuing the documents, but it is well known that those behind such things do not answer to the Interior Ministry.
Sometimes, ridiculous things happen. As ridiculous as it sounds, a hell fire missile did incinerate a car and two people yet a Pakistani passport and CNIC somehow survived intact. Does it matter that even the state has confirmed it? No, we will prefer to stick to our denials and our jokes about ‘bomb proof passports’. It may be a ridiculous mindset that refuses to believe what has already been confirmed, but if we start accepting these things then we will be forced to face the most ridiculous thing of all, which is our own foreign policy that causes such things in the first place. After all, Amir-ul-Momineen will come and go…but our denialism is truly bomb proof.
The US Congress has passed another law that threatens to cut off aid to Pakistan unless we take action against Haqqani network militants. Sirajuddin Haqqani was a top deputy of Mullah Mansour, and now it is expected that he will be named Amir of Taliban following Mansour’s death in an American drone strike. Haqqani is also considered by some quarters to be pro-Pakistan. Several years ago the top American military commander termed Haqqani network as ‘a veritable arm of ISI‘, secret US documents say ISI paid Haqqani to attack a CIA base in Afghanistan, and even when Army carried out attacks against the Haqqani network, they were ‘tipped off‘ in time to get away.
The death of Mullah Mansour has put Pakistan in a dangerous position. If Haqqani is named as Amir, will we be willing to carry out attacks, or will we finally put an end to our alliance with the international community in the fight against the Taliban? In 2001, US President George Bush gave the choice ‘you are either with us or against us’. It looks like we are facing the same question again. Will we make the same choice this time?
Investigation are beginning to result in hard evidence about Bacha Khan University attack, and a familiar picture is emerging. Hawaldar media went into over drive to spread the story that India was behind the deadly terrorist attack. Foreign Office summoned Afghan envoy to register concerns about terrorists crossing the border into Pakistan. If terrorism is a foreign problem, though, why are so many Pakistanis involved?
According to the sources, the suspect said he had brought with him two attackers while the other two were already with another facilitator, Riaz, in Charsadda. He identified the four attackers, including an Afridi, one from Orakzai, one from Swat and one from South Waziristan.
This complicates our complaint to Afghanistan about terrorists crossing into Pakistan because it means that even when terrorists are training and coordinating in Afghan camps, they are first traveling to those camps from Pakistan. In other words they are crossing Pakistan border into Afghanistan first!
There are two important conclusions. First is that we need to stop blaming foreigners for trying to destabilize the country and try to figure out why so many Pakistanis are working to destabilize and terrorize their own country. Obviously something is terribly wrong and if we continue to ignore it it will only grow worse.
Second is that before we complain to Afghanistan about securing the border on their side we need to secure the border on our side to prevent militants from traveling into Afghanistan. Yes, that means that we can no longer turn a blind eye to militants who want to join the Afghan jihad, but we can no longer pretend that it is a one-way door. The price is too high.
Recent articles published in the US media are giving the impression that Islamic State, with a global Jihadi appeal, is struggling hard to get a foothold in Pakistan but the authors of these articles are either downplaying the tell tale signs or the articles lack the necessary framework in which emerging terror organizations flourish.
As the Taliban lose steam as a result of the death of their supreme leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and splintering and internal fighting, stage is set for a new group to take over. A cursory look at the metamorphosis of Jihadi organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past two decades indicate that they are getting deadlier, sophisticated and high tech savvy with every passing year; from Mujahideen groups willing to negotiate to Taliban willing to blow up and finally to Islamic State willing to behead innocent people. This is a worrying development not only for the South Asian region but for the entire world as well.
It has been almost one year since PM and COAS declared a policy of ‘zero tolerance‘ for terrorism in the country. Since that declaration, secular political parties such as MQM and PPP have been targeted by Army for alleged ties between some members and terrorism. However these links are still unclear and seem to exist more in the statements of their accusers than in hard evidence. Actually, the amount of evidence that has been presented against these parties makes even the notoriously thin dossiers against India appear to be fool proof cases. Meanwhile, there is another political party whose ties to terrorism have been exposed in pure daylight, but where is the response?
A few days ago, photos and videos surfaced on social media showing funeral prayers for dozens of Pakistani jihadis who were killed in Afghanistan. The coffins were draped with flag of Al-Badar Mujahideen, the Kashmiri militant group with close ties to Jamaat-e-Islami. The photos were originally posted by JI leader Akhunzada Noor Elahi whose Facebook page is filled with Jamaatis praising these militants. It should also be noted that reports say several of the militants were also members of Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
Media has been mostly silent about this story, but GHQ’s response will tell an important story. If ‘zero tolerance’ is more than a PR campaign, we should see raids of Jamaat offices and arrests of Jamaat men? Interior Ministry has said that JUD is on ‘watch list’. Are they watching this episode? Will anything be done in response?
Army operations against MQM and other political parties have been defended strongly as not political but only enforcing the so-called ‘zero tolerance’ policy against militancy. Now it is time for GHQ to prove whether it is truly a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against militancy, or whether the same old policy of protecting ‘good Taliban’ remains the name of the game.