With the end game in Aghanistan, the TTP is unlikely to unroll its extensive network in Pakistan
In terms of content, the Army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani’s speech on the occasion of passing out parade at Pakistan’s premier military academy, Kakul, is not much different from his last few speeches: the emphasis on Islam and Pakistan, the sacrosanctity of ideology of Pakistan and vows to make Pakistan an ideal Islamic welfare state. This time the speech has pointed towards the provocative statements from the neighboring countries and a sentence about focusing on the internal threats. But the emphasis on the ideology of Pakistan has flustered some quarters that were all praise for the speech last year on the eve of Independence Day, when General Kayani had a speech at the same venue after witnessing the ‘Azadi parade’ on August 14.
In that speech, Gen Kayani had discussed the threat of religious terrorism in detail, challenging their interpretation of Islam while contesting anyone’s claims to be the sole interpreter of Islam and using violence to impose it over others. Gen Kayani ordained a fight against the forces of extremism and terrorism, insisting it as our own war and warned against a civil war situation if cobwebs persisted in the minds on the complexity of this crucial issue.
Though in that speech too, Gen Kayani didn’t forget to remind us that how Islam was the basis for the foundation of Pakistan and had the same pledge of making Pakistan an ideal Islamic welfare state and society based on the golden principles of Islam. The speech came after fresh settlements with United States post-Salala affair over allowing NATO supplies and other issues, it was considered as building environment for an offensive in North Waziristan, so the weary parts of the speech were brushed aside.
But now, what has perturbed many is the omission of the resolve against those misinterpreting Islam for political means and trying to impose it upon others by use of violence. While the speech kept reiterating its emphasis on the Pakistan ideology and the inseparable relation of Islam and Pakistan, hence putting his weight in favour of those elements that have made a particular interpretation of Ideology of Pakistan a Procrustes bed for the political forces to stretch or hack them off to fit that standards.
More dreadful is the fact that, Taliban have attained an unvanquishable status due to the cobwebs of confusion around them in the national narrative led by the security establishment for its changing preferences. Lack of sufficient action against them and allowing them to prescribe their terms for the upcoming elections to the people on who should be supported or alienated in their electoral campaigns.
The focus on the internal security should have prioritized measures against active networks of terrorism across the country and their sleeping cells in the Punjab. For peaceful elections and providing level playing field to the political parties who have actively supported army offensives against the Taliban and extolled them for their glorified Swat and Malakand operations, kept a close eye over and defended them against harsh criticism by the human right organisations over detentions and extra-judicial killings of the suspected militants, dumping the bullet riddled bodies or throwing them into river Swat or handing them over to their relatives after their deaths in detention due to some mysterious illness.
During these years, Taliban’s physical control over some territories may have diluted but virtually they still have the powers to strike in those areas against security forces or civilian gatherings. Also their virtual control has been extended manifold to new areas and territories. Their ability to acquire or manufacture arms and explosives, generating finances via different sources and reinforcements through recruitments of certain types of warfare experts or ordinary fighters has not been forestalled.
What has been required in the mean time is to interdict their terror operations of hitting at the targets of their choice. Putting strict security measures to secure possible targets can deter their power to achieve specific targets. But it is possible only if these orgqanisations have been attacked in their dens and militarization points, before they start out by going through their plans. But this all can be done through effective intelligence measures and well coordinated plans to hinder networks of terror of their plans and tactics as well as admonishing the impression of indomitability of these groups in society and among the fearful and disconcerted populace.
The exulting right wing religio-political groups over the conjectural US military setback in Afghanistan have started speaking out loudly against those political forces that have opposed Taliban or have supported military offences against them, especially in Pakistan. It has also reinforced a rather flawed argument of dealing violent groups politically by acceding to some of their demands. It has been testified through the turbulent history and the last few years of this country that ceding political space to those employing deliberate violence to attain ideological objectives will not stop at a desired point but it eventually results in conceding turf to these forces.
The reemergence of state-friendly Jihadi organisations or the so-called good Taliban too bears witness to the same false assertions around the endgame narrative in Afghanistan. If one desires that these Jihadi locomotives of us will drag the good and bad Jihadi militants out of Pakistan to aid their ideological counterparts in Afghanistan, it should be kept in mind that Pakistani Taliban have its network of support and reinforcement existing across Pakistan, it is highly unlikely that it will be unrolled or sent back packing to their perceived buffer zones.
The external threat narrative around neigbouring countries and the ideological foes has bucked up jingoism, at the same time projecting conspiracy theories. All this while the persisting threat of the Taliban and their ideological allies has given rise to a sense of haplessness in the people directly hit by terror. And it has been transforming society drastically pushing it towards adopting more radical traits and losing its traditional attributes of tolerance and pluralism.
Ali Arqam is a journalist and researcher based in Karachi. He can be contacted email@example.com or interacted on twitter at @aliarqam