Shabaz Taseer has been returned after being kidnapped nearly five years ago. This is good news both for his family who have suffered immensely in recent years at the hands of extremists. However, for Pakistan more generally, Shahbaz’s rescue raises some difficult questions.
When Shahbaz Taseer was kidnapped off the streets of Lahore in 2011, no one took responsibility. It wasn’t until 2012 that TTP admitted responsibility. Two years ago, officials announced they would begin negotiations with TTP commanders that included demands for return of both Shahbaz Taseer and Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son Syed Ali Haider Gilani. Today it appears that those negotiations have paid off, at least partly. Word on the fate of Ali Haider Gilani is now anxiously waited.
So what is wrong with it? Hopefully, there is nothing, but there are questions that are rising. For example, reports had long stated that Shahbaz was being held by TTP in Waziristan, but according to Aitzaz Goraya, head of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Balochistan, he was recovered from a compound in Kuchlak area of Balochistan.
This is worth noting because Kuchlak is an area that has had a strong presence of Afghan Taliban. Security forces have also arrested dozens of TTP militants in Kuchlak also. Questions are now being asked whether the kidnappings were done by Afghan or Pakistan Taliban. Whether he was moved from Waziristan also raises questions such as how Taliban are able to move so freely from Lahore to Waziristan to Quetta without being detected. People are also asking whether the close living relations between “good” Afghan Taliban and “bad” Pakistan Taliban in Kuchlak is more evidence that there is really no difference between the two.
Today, the nation is relieved that Shahbaz Taseer has been released. However, we must remember that this is not the end of the story. We still pray for the safe recovery of Ali Haider Gilani. We also pray that the state stop playing favourites and rid the country of all extremists so that no more families are forced to suffer such pain.
Such statements allow us to psychologically externalise the problem of terrorism by viewing it always as a situation where we are the victim of some foreign enemies. It is not unthinkable that foreign agents are involved with anti-Pakistan activities, but we have little control over the actions of foreign powers.
The question we need to be asking is why so many Pakistanis are willing to destabilise and terrorise their own country?
The answer is always that foreign agencies are paying these Pakistanis to work against the country. However in no cases are there claims that anyone is getting rich. So they are doing it for some small sums? You would not take any sum to kill your own mother unless you truly hated her. How much must people hate their own country to destroy it for peanuts?
We are facing an existential problem that is not being forced on us from outside powers. Even if foreign powers are taking advantage, they are taking advantage of a weakness that already exists in our society. Foreign funding is not the real problem either because for that to matter, someone must already be willing to do the terrible deed. And based on arrests, that number is staggering. Over 100,000 Pakistanis have been arrested under counter-terrorism laws, and yet terrorist attacks continue.
If we are going to save this country, we must start looking inward and solving this question: Why are so many Pakistanis willing to kill and destroy this country? Once we have solved that problem, our enemies will be able to come with all the funds they can but not be able to find any buyers for their evil schemes. Only then can we start to find peace.
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.
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.