Why are we celebrating the fall of Kunduz?

Pakistani newspaper writes "America cries, another victory for Taliban"

Afghan forced backed by NATO are reported to have regained control of Kunduz after a three day battle with Taliban fighters. This comes as a disappointment to many of our own countrymen who celebrated reports that Taliban had seized control of the major Afghan city on Monday. This is deserving of reflection. Why are so many of us celebrating advances by Taliban fighters even while we are locked in a battle to the finish with Taliban ourselves? The answers offer important clues to the root of our troubles and, possibly, provide some hope for a solution.

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Truth really is the first casualty of war

Badaber Attackers Were Pakistani

It is well known that the first casualty of war is the truth. In our war against anti-Pakistan terrorists, this also appears to be the case. Soon after Badaber attack, it became widely reported that several of the terrorists were identified as Pakistanis. This has caused severe anxiety within the corridors of power, where it is revealed that officials intended to hide the fact that Pakistanis were involved in the attack.

Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has expressed anger over making public the profiles of identified terrorists involved in the Badaber Camp attack.

According to the Interior Ministry spokesperson, an investigation has been ordered to find out who leaked the profiles, adding that the leak could negatively impact the ongoing investigation, a private television channel reported on Sunday.

The Interior Ministry spokesperson stated that terrorists were identified the day the incident took place but this information was withheld on purpose due to the sensitivity of matter.

The spokesperson said it appears sharing of information between institutions caused the premature revelation of this information which, the statement said, should never have happened.

 

This is not the only fact that officials have tried to hide. Actually, there appears to be a growing pattern of misleading information coming from up high. In January, Secretary of Defense reported that Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel “presented evidence to the United States (US) which shows India’s involvement in the various terrorist incidents that have occurred in Pakistan”. However when asked by reporters about this evidence, the US appeared puzzled and said they were unaware of any delivery. Reports of an extensive dossier on India’s involvement in terrorism feature regularly on our media, even including statements from the highest levels. Yet no one has ever seen any of this evidence. Are the reports only meant to stoke anti-Indian sentiments?

Statistics are repeated ad nauseum pointing to a decline in terrorist attacks, and such points must be appreciated. But there are also growing questions about the extent of the success of military operations that everyone is in full agreement about.

There is further evidence that in the city of Karachi, militants remain well embedded. On Sunday, a suicide bomber detonated his jacket in the Malir area after police conducted a raid there in search of terrorists. He was apparently one of the persons being sought. Before blowing up his vest, he shot at the police team, injuring two policemen. Police fired back and the weapons used by the wanted man who is believed to be an Al-Qaeda operative have been taken into custody for forensic analysis. This was not the only violent incident of the day. In a separate attack, unknown persons on motorcycles fired at an empty DSNG van belonging to Samaa television channel. No one was injured in the attack, but the message sent out was frightening. Just days before, there had been an attack on a Geo TV DSNG and a senior journalist had been killed in the city at the same time.

The same is true for questions about how Badaber attack came to happen.

The government and army have responded by air strikes in the Tirah Valley which killed around 16 suspected terrorists. The trouble with these attacks once again is that if the claim is true that the attack on the PAF Badaber base was coordinated from bases in Afghanistan, what intelligence is the basis for the air strikes in the Tirah Valley?

Actually, the questions about the official response to Badaber attack bring us back to questions about evidence against India.

In this context, it is worth thinking about the DG ISPR’s statement that the assault had been planned in Afghanistan and that terrorists were being controlled from there. Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said that Pakistan possesses enough intelligence on cross-border attacks to be shared with Afghanistan, with the government ready to demand concrete action. The issue is that if we had such concrete intelligence already at the start of September, then why was it not shared with Afghan authorities then?

Here is the pattern: Officials from government and armed forces announce that Army has broken the terrorists backbone and destroyed their ability to carry out attacks. Then an attack happens. After the attack, foreign countries are blamed and it is claimed that we have fool proof evidence, but this evidence is never shown. At the same time, all evidence about the involvement of Pakistanis is hidden under a rug.

Truth may be the first casualty, but it is not the last. Innocent lives are lost, and ultimately no nation can hope to prevail if it misleads its own people. Peddling conspiracy theories and hiding the reality only breed confusion and doubt which plays into the hands of the anti-state elements. It is a self-defeating strategy in a war where the stakes are too high to accept.

PAF Badaber: Questions of Accountability

Another morning darkened by outpouring of grief and mourning for martyred innocents. Another brazen terrorist attack, this time targeting PAF Badaber. Sixteen of the dead were offering their prayers in a mosque at the moment terrorists killed them. Seven others were performing ablution. Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi Raaji’oon.

The attack leaves us with more questions than answers. How could this happen? ISPR says the attack was planned in Afghanistan, but such an attack had to have some local support. At least some attackers or sympathiser had to do surveillance prior to carrying out the attack. Did they come and go freely from Afghanistan? How could our security agencies have no idea that this was being planned? The courageous response of our soldiers has been widely appreciated and it has been correctly noted that their acts saved countless other lives. But why were any lives lost? Were our agencies once again caught sleeping?

These question will probably remain unanswered, just like the question why US is still doing drone strikes in South Waziristan? This is not a question of American imperialism, though. Our own military has proven capability of using drones against militants. So why were these militants killed by an American drone? Did our own agencies not know they were there? These are questions that we will never even hear asked, much less answered openly and honestly. All we can do is hope that behind closed doors someone, somewhere is being held accountable for these deadly intelligence failures.

Speaking of accountability, Ansar Abbasi has condemned the lack of accountability

However the truth is it is exactly those like Ansar Abbasi himself who are responsible for pushing Pakistan to this situation. Ansar Abbasi and those like him who project extremist ideology and Taliban sympathies are the ones who create confusion in the people’s minds by parroting Taliban propaganda.

Everyone here knew that the re-opening of Nato Supply Line would resurrect the horror of terrorist and suicide attacks in Pakistan. Still, the supply line was re-opened merely because it was crucial for American’s interest in Afghanistan and the region. While serving the American interest, we chose to forget how each and every peace deal of Pakistani authorities with local Taliban was sabotaged by the Americans; how extremism and talibanisation is fuelled through US drone attacks; who protects and feeds the anti-Pakistan Taliban in Kunar, Afghanistan; who and for what purpose has established a net-work of Raymond Davis like agents within Pakistan; who is behind Balochistan’s unrest; why is Pakistan pressed to target “good Taliban”. While we are made to believe that all Taliban and al-Qaeda are the enemies of Pakistan, but the bin Laden documents, released by the US military recently, suggest otherwise.

  Read that again. If you did not know who wrote it, would you guess our media or TTP spokesman? What about this Tweet?

When Osama bin Laden was killed, Ansar Abbasi appeared on TV praising the terrorist leader and announcing that Taliban and al Qaeda have never been enemies of Pakistan. Do we expect people to listen to these statements day in and day out and not absorb at least some of it?

If we cannot hold those in military agencies accountable for failing to detect these outrageous schemes before they are allowed to take innocent lives, surely we have the power to hold accountable those who fertilise the soil with hatred and conspiracy theories so that Taliban sympathies can grow and spread. Ansar Abbasi is not the only one, but he is a good example. We desperately need accountability. First, though, we need to look in the mirror and hold ourselves accountable for having brought the country to this point.