Hagiographies: Who are they trying to convince?

Gen Raheel

Taliban released a new biography of Mullah Omar recently amid growing frustration among jihadi militants and the rise of Daesh in the region. The work has been described as a having tone of ‘hagiography’, the word used for writing about the life of a saint. This is widely seen as an attempt to rally support behind the missing Mullah who hasn’t been seen since many years yet still claims to be in command of Taliban forces. Mullah Omar isn’t the only subject of new ‘hagiography’. Increasingly, such works are appearing in Pakistan media detailing another subject: Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif.

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Heads to remain firmly in sand until next attack

head in the sand

Following multiple terrorist attacks that killed dozens including high ranking military officers and innocent civilians alike, there appeared a brief moment of clarity in the national discussion. Some even predicted a change in the attitude among the top leadership, pointing to the sudden increase in media stories openly criticising state support for jihadi groups as part of foreign policy. It appears that prediction may have been premature. Once again, as the dust begins to settle after the blast, Jihadi sympathisers and media Talibans are giving full throated support for militant groups.

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The Price of Surrender

Pakistan Taliban

Peace talks with TTP has been a key component of Nawaz Sharif’s policy. Almost immediately after being elected, the PML-N chief extended a hand to the jihadi faction, and though the hand has been slapped back repeatedly by the extremist militants, it remains extended for the time being. Whether or not peace talks are likely to result in a sustainable peace is a matter for debate, but one major media group is pushing not for peace talks but for premature surrender.

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Time For Course Correction

In an interesting editorial, The News notes that terrorism lives on after Osama and Pakistan will have to manage the problem.

The bombing demonstrates that the killing of the Al-Qaeda chief hasn’t solved anything. Terrorism lives on, and could grow in the country as anger against the US continues to mount. This is a problem Pakistan has been left to deal with and it is a difficult one to manage.

I think it’s interesting that The News says that terrorism “is a problem Pakistan has been left to deal with”, as if the Americans having killed Osama have abandoned Pakistan to its fate. That’s not the case at all. Actually the Americans would love to help us defeat the terrorists in our borders. According to our own military and intelligence officers they provide intelligence, training, weapons. They have even sent their commandos to kill terrorists here. American did not abandon Pakistan, we have told them to get out.

This is fine. I don’t like feeling like every gora I see may be a pistol packing Raymond Davis cowboy on a mission. But we can’t tell the Americans to leave and expect terrorism to stop without telling the terrorists to leave also.

A couple of pieces in Dawn by two of our best and brightest make the point that it is time for us to face the difficult reality. Huma Yusuf correctly notes that we need to stop looking outside to find the source of threat to our country:

In this context, parliament’s decision on Friday to revisit national security strategies is disappointing because of its focus on foreign relations (particularly the bilateral relationship with the US). What will it take for Pakistan to contend with the reality that its greatest threats are internal rather than external?

And in another column Moeed Yusuf correctly notes also that just as the threats are internal so are the solutions:

It is about time Pakistanis own up to the fact that our own house is not exactly in order. The principal failure is internal, and so is the fix.

Daily Times agrees also saying that “the game is up”, and we need to make changes to the way we are operating before the whole world loses patience.

One thing is clear though: the ‘game’ is up. Pakistan’s military cannot afford to play its usual double game anymore because the world’s, and particularly the US’s, patience has finally run out. Despite their denials and having confessed to incompetence and an intelligence failure, disbelief lingers that Osama was living in a compound near Kakul and yet no one in the army or the ISI was aware of his whereabouts.

We have the opportunity to use 1/5 as a turning point and put Pakistan back on the bath envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah so many years ago. Decades ago, the nation was hijacked and driven off course. It does not have to be this way. The world is ready to forgive and forget strategic mistakes. We have seen this with other great countries including the US, Germany, Japan, Russia etc etc etc. By correcting the course we can avert a disaster that will come not from some hidden hand, but from our “strategic assets” stabbing us in the back.

Nation Needs Patriots, Not Opportunists

SMQ with his best friend Hillary ClintonPolitical opportunists of every stripe are coming out of the woodwork to take advantage of the nation’s confusion over the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad last week. Meanwhile, the nation’s image is at a low point as the world asks how Osama bin Laden could be living comfortably outside PMA Kakul and how the US could carry out a cross border raid without raising the detection of the Army. What we need are patriots – the real kind, not the pseudo-patriot hyper-nationalists who are content to make excuses – real patriots who are willing to ask the hard questions and make real changes to put the nation back on path.

On Day 1 after the raid, the typical establishment media sources were reporting that this was a joint operation carried out with the full involvement of Pak Army. The Nation reported that 200 Pak Army men were involved. It has become clear that this was not the case, and the military appears to have be caught unaware. In the aftermath of this debacle, civilian and military leaders have called for a full investigation into two questions: 1. How was it possible for Osama bin Laden to be living undetected in Abbottabad and 2. How was it possible for a team of American commandos to get in and out of Abbottabad without military and intelligence noticing anything?

These are important questions to be investigated and answered. As citizens of a sovereign nation we must be looking at how our borders have become so weak that international terrorists and American commandos can cross without detection. We must ask what has happened in our country that international terrorists would choose to come here to hide from the rest of the world. It is a time for national introspection.

Unfortunately, while many are looking at these questions honestly, others are jumping on the opportunity to score cheap political points at the expense of the nation’s future.

Unsurprisingly, Jang/Geo continues it’s boring fight with the government by accusing the civilians of failing on the job, as if the president and PM were sleeping at the radar stations when the cross border raid took place. A recent article even lashes out at the civilians for the laughable claim that “the present government had not discussed the war on terror with the army even once during last three years”. Are we to believe that the government was conducting this war while the Army was waiting for instructions? Actually it was the generals having private talks with their American counterparts for the last years. If the government didn’t talk to the army about the war on terror, it wouldn’t matter since it was the army keeping the civilians out of the loop anyway.

Whatever is being said in the media, it’s nothing compared to the silliness coming out of the mouths of some politicians. One might expect such attacks from Ch. Nisar, but the actions of SMQ are an embarrassing display of political opportunism. Qureshi is a smart guy. It’s too bad he got overly ambitious and gambled on being the next ZAB only to find out he’s not quite cut from the same cloth. But continuing this act is only making him look ridiculous.

Thankfully, civilian and military leadership appear to be on the same page with regards to the importance of defending the country.

Sources say the civilian and military leadership were on the same page in expressing reservations about the Abbottabad operation, and decided to formulate a national security policy after taking all political leaders into confidence. Sources say the government’s reservations over the propaganda being hatched against Pakistan by US intelligence agencies and officials from the Obama administration was also discussed.

The prime minister was asked to take the political leadership into confidence so that a joint stance could be taken on Pakistan’s national security and foreign policy with regards its future relations with the US.

Sources claim there was an understanding among the troika that the country’s sovereignty and geographical boundaries would be defended. The prime minister emphasised that “the sole criteria for formulating a national stance was safeguarding Pakistan’s supreme national interest, by all means, with the help of all state institutions, in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan who above all value their dignity and honour.”

If we’re going to get through this debacle with our heads held high, we’re going to have to answer some difficult and possibly embarrassing questions. We won’t be the first nation in this position. Germany was responsible for Nazis killing 6 million Jews, the US had hundreds of years of slavery, South Africa had Apartheid. Every nation has embarrassing periods in their histories. But those that progressed to become modern, prosperous democratic nations are those that honestly and humbly engaged in self-examination and positive change.