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Winning Our Own War

by Sherry Rehman
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Photo illustration by Minhaj Ahmed Rafi

Photo illustration by Minhaj Ahmed Rafi

10 things to do beyond North Waziristan.

As Pakistan’s military runs through its ground offensive in the federally-administered North Waziristan tribal agency in the punishing July heat of Ramzan, the harrowing homelessness of almost a million tribal people poses the most poignant humanitarian challenge to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government in its labyrinth. The disastrous ordeal of the displaced is by far the most compelling counterpoint to maintaining momentum and morale in this deadly battle, but several other concerns also roil the confused public conversation about the offensive.

The key question begging attention is not just about Zarb-e-Azb itself but about the possibility of its gestation into a full-on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency campaign. In other words, is Zarb-e-Azb going to remain a military exercise or does it signal a new phase in Pakistan’s long encounter with terrorism? Pakistan has carried out several military operations against terrorists in the tribal areas in the past, so how and why would this one be any different?

It is different for more than one reason. Unlike other initiatives, the task and timing of the North Waziristan operation has been discussed threadbare for years by all players, Pakistani and international, including NATO, the U.S., and Afghanistan. North Waziristan, where the U.S. has rained down over 250 Hellfire missiles in search of high-value Al Qaeda targets, has not only been seen as the last holdout of the infamous Haqqani network, it has also been cast as the toughest theater for a military offensive. In fact, the challenge of an offensive there was often seen as so onerous that the costs of terrorist blowback and military overstretch were regularly cited as prohibitive until the timing was seen as right or a broad political consensus urged it on.

Today, after several audacious attacks, including last month’s assault on Karachi Airport, it seems the terrorist advance triggered a tipping point for the military to launch Operation Zarb-e-Azb, but the government conversation around it is still embedded in tactical terms.

For the operation to count, or rather not be wasted as a costly and tough military offensive that flushes out terrorists from one enclave only to have them resurface in another, it will have to go to the next level, which would include baseline transparency about arrests and casualties. The military’s task is to recapture territory, close down sanctuaries, degrade enemy capacity, and weed out militants. But for the operation to sustain the state’s reestablished writ without reversing gains, the civilian-military leadership will have to create internal clarity about the scope, reach, endgame, and strategic objective of this operation.

What must be done? Connecting the dots in a state structure severely compromised by years of poor governance and rickety institutional capacity will not be easy. Yet, Zarb-e-Azb can be seen as an opportunity, an entry point, to begin the long campaign to reclaim Pakistan from the clutches of terrorism and extremism. To begin with, there are at least 10 simultaneous priorities that are urgent and unavoidable—and these require joint resolve, institutional clarity, and strategic focus.

First Relief, then Rehabilitation

The first and most urgent priority remains providing relief and shelter to those displaced by Zarb-e-Azb. Almost a million have registered as internally-displaced persons from North Waziristan, and the number is growing. To avoid the dimming of public morale, a resolute interagency, federally-orchestrated effort is necessary to address their suffering and treat the IDPs as more than a mere war statistic. At a time when Pakistan is making the beginnings of a painful transition by reclaiming its writ, tribal alienation can potentially be its worst unintended consequence.

At the very least, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government must be allowed to bring in more trained relief agencies, and efforts must be stepped up to deny space to proscribed and violent jihadist outfits rebranded as benign religious charities. While the government has finally acknowledged that the Pakistani Taliban and their affiliates are fundamentally linked, some frontline relief work for IDPs in Bannu, for instance, is reportedly being carried out by jihadist groups rebranded as charities, peddling their exclusivist ideology.

Rehabilitation will come later. And for that, both budgeting and a build-back-better civilian system need to be in place. In the absence of a viable resettlement plan to protect populations from the twin burden of displacement and terrorist reprisals, thousands of dislocated people are adrift to Khost and Paktika across the border in Afghanistan. The U.N. has made its appeal, but it is Pakistan’s responsibility to create hospitable shelter for them. For now, some of these IDPs have already begun the trek back from Afghanistan, but mismanagement and deprivation largely define their daily experience. Some lessons from the 2009 Swat relief, recovery, and resettlement effort may be in order.

Clearheaded Coordination

Given that Pakistan faces a complex terrorism and insurgent challenge, the battle has to be owned, led, and sequentially time-lined from the top. Political ownership and internal coherence are critical for the successful, logical outcome of any military operation and counterterrorism campaign. Right now the military is clearly taking a lead on what should have been a national, multi-sector offensive. Without strong civilian leadership and equally robust interagency coordination, which has been blunted by abiding political tensions between the party heading the federal government and the party leading the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, this operation may only amount to an incalculable loss of blood and treasure. The politics of confrontation between the provinces and center will have to be managed better, for a start. At this sensitive moment for forging national unity, a deft hand on the political-consensus wheel is needed, not the politics of street agitation nor the government’s inexplicable delays in crisis resolution in Parliament with a highly charged opposition.

As it stands, expecting one military operation to stand in for a full counter-terror policy plan is not the way forward. Nor should the operation just organically drift into an uncoordinated series of tactical initiatives undertaken reactively by the military in response to spectacular terrorist offensives. It would be myopic to think that the lack of blowback from the Taliban is permanent. Asymmetrical warfare means dealing with combat over space and time, with the enemy regrouping and returning to the battlefield not when the state is in its operational momentum, but when they are least expected to. History, and Pakistan’s neighborhood, is replete with bloody lessons of such insurgent and terrorist tactics. Memories of the 2001 melt-away of the Taliban in Afghanistan are instructive, as are lessons learnt from their subsequent return in 2005.

Therefore, coordinated executive-tasking for a long, sustained campaign is needed from the prime minister’s office. No ministry will command joint reporting from all agencies at this point. The national-security committee set up a few months ago was a good move, but it clearly remains operationally weak. With terrorists on the march across the Middle East, Pakistan’s stakes in reversing the tide at home are too high for all hands to not be on deck. At the very minimum, a fusion cell needs to be resourced and empowered, with an overarching coordinating body, such as the National Counter Terrorism Authority, working day and night to define, tweak and coordinate goals. This agency has legislative cover, so no wheel-reinvention is needed. What is required is political support so NACTA can start coordinating intelligence and operational efforts across civilian and non-civilian law-enforcement and security agencies.

Reclaim the Narrative

In all counterterrorism and counterinsurgency initiatives, half the battle is about dominating the narrative. As it stands, the level of the government’s commitment to the larger war is still unclear from the huge deficits in strategic communication.

No joint session of Parliament, for instance, has been called to message the gravity of the situation, signaling a low priority for sustained counterterrorism efforts in the government’s political calculus. Months of talks with the Pakistani Taliban have given them overt legitimacy and non-kinetic advantage, although the operation has gone some distance in reversing this trend.

An immediate joint session of Parliament, possibly in-camera, can generate political support and inspire both public confidence and consensus. Military and government representatives can both make detailed briefings and share concerns, which can yield a joint or majority resolution. The Information Ministry can take the lead in multiple strategic-communication campaigns, and will likely get much support from the media in sharing this burden. The media campaign so far only focuses on conventional war propaganda and remains shy of identifying the larger enemy, which is crucial for nonconventional battle successes.

At another level, strategic messaging will have to face the hard rock of policy realities. Course-correction narratives, especially applicable to the military, which carries the baggage of political meddling and use of militants as strategic proxies, have been in the air for some years now. At the very least, to avoid accusations of tactical disingenuousness, the names of terrorists killed, including key targets, will have to be shared. Short of such proactive transparency, for which Pakistan’s government is neither trained nor institutionally geared, the bona fides of the operation will be questioned locally, regionally, and internationally.

No Deluded Distinctions

One of the most important priorities while broadening this battle has to be defining the enemy and endgame for Zarb-e-Azb 2.0. Targets and timelines, even if they are kept secret, cannot continue to be endlessly blurred. The military’s announcement that it is planning to pursue “terrorists of every hue” is encouraging, but yet to be tested. Its stated change of heart on the Haqqani network may also indicate a tactical wariness—part of the new thinking in the security establishment that made distinctions among terrorist groups—especially when the chips are down, as theoretical.

One of the main criticisms of the operation has been based on widespread reports of key militant targets having escaped well before Air Force jets bombed out the towns in North Waziristan. The military’s Inter-Services Public Relations has, in fact, even acknowledged as much. So, squaring some part of the old capacity-versus-commitment dilemma is essential in order to advance a credible national agenda against terrorism. The old temptation of trusting a cold peace on the western border to nonstate actors and militant tribals will have to be resisted and addressed. In other words, the operation will surely need to be escalated to enemy combatants beyond the Pakistani Taliban and an assortment of foreign fighters.

At the same time, the crucial question of sectarian and other militant organizations in Pakistan has not been addressed yet by either the government or the military. While the military has said that the second phase of the operation will aim to flush out terrorists from the other tribal agencies and the country’s cities, it is unclear if this will include extremist sectarian organizations like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi/Jamat-ud-Dawah and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan/Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat which target and persecute religious minorities, including the Shia. If groups like the Jamat-ud-Dawah, which has received formal budgetary grants from the Punjab government for “public welfare,” are expediently ignored, the message to the rest of Pakistan will be that, at some level, accommodations with local militant and sectarian groups will continue.

Build the Police

Enhancing the autonomy, intelligence and operational capacities of the police and law-enforcement agencies is an urgent task, especially since the terrorist challenge is almost entirely going to be shouldered by civilian agencies in the urban theater.

In order to cut the size and critical mass of militant sanctuaries in the Punjab as well as in urban Sindh, the federal and provincial governments will have to take on the harder tasks of depoliticizing police appointments, rationalizing jurisdictions, and enhancing resources for effective counterterrorism campaigns. Police in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has borne the brunt of blowback from counterterrorism operations. Its current resources and expertise don’t allow it to fight back once an operation is over. It needs the sustained focus of a federal outreach initiative. With no real policing power available to large swathes of the province and given the ongoing insurgency and the continuing dangers of prolonged political alienation, Balochistan also merits special reform attention.

As it stands, Pakistan is shockingly inadequate when it comes to ballistics experts and forensics labs. Police are unable to produce convictable evidence in court because it has no resources to do so. Terrorists are arrested by intelligence agencies and police, with several overlapping mandates, at high costs, including personal safety, only to be acquitted by the courts for lack of evidence. The state of the police forces will only change if serious federal and provincial coordination is put into play. The autonomy and resources provided to the Motorway Police is one clear example of success.

Drain the Extremist Swamp

Countering extremism—draining the swamp in which terrorism, with its sophisticated use of social and visual media, finds easy recruits—is going to be the longest war Pakistan fights. This work needs to start now, when the terrorists on top of the target list are at least on the run, not when their blowback-capacity reemerges.

Without a clear-eyed policy of de-radicalization and holistic plans to neutralize terrorist sanctuaries and nurseries, the writ of the government will lapse back into decline. The provinces will need to revise curricula and textbooks that valorize militancy for a start. The project of reclaiming space from militant training centers and seminaries that nurture terrorists will also have to be built into operational timelines so that sleeper cells and new recruits don’t continue to critically amass. State remit is needed in the police precincts of our cities and semirural towns, where militant propaganda runs rampant with hate graffiti and billboards exhorting the public to other-ize and kill religious minorities like the Hazara and Shia, non-Muslims and Ahmadis, who get little or no protection from the state. The impunity for such acts has to go. Judges who hear terrorism-related cases need protection and anonymity during trials, as do witnesses.

The infrastructure of prosecuting and adjudicating terrorist and extremist acts is anemic and anachronistic; it could profit from an independent commission that brings invaluable capacity to government and parliamentary committees that could enact enabling legislation. Women’s voices in conflict-resolution and peace-building coalitions need to be included. The Protection of Pakistan Act is not a law anyone can be proud of; quite the contrary, in order to avoid becoming a legal cover for unchecked state brutality it needs critical inputs from the legal community for legislators to review it.

Don’t Alienate, Integrate

Post-offensive plans for the federally- and provincially-administered tribal agencies, other mixed-jurisdiction areas, and the “B areas” of Balochistan have to be fast-tracked. These regions require police stations and courts to integrate them with the country and its laws. Right now, law and order here depend entirely on arbitrary, outdated institutions (such as the political agent and the Frontier Crimes Regulation) and their law-enforcement agencies are ill-equipped to bear the avenging wrath of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The successful rehabilitation of North Waziristan’s lost population of IDPs is not going to be successful if it is a brick-and-mortar exercise alone. Their chieftains and political notables have lost power and agency to the Taliban; they can no longer maintain either the peace or enforce the law of collective responsibility. What is required is a more enfranchising system that does not pander to the elites resisting change; that creates stakes for the tribal poor; that is democratic and sustainable; and that serves as a bulwark against terrorism.

Squeeze the Money

Choking off terrorist financing will be pivotal to the medium-term goal of extending the logical remit of a military operation against terrorists. Many informal cash pipelines are being squeezed, but money-change agents and branches in ungoverned tribal outposts will become a serial migraine for the government if they are not controlled.

Key to curbing terrorist financing will be the capacity for slowing down opium cropping in Afghanistan, which has eluded even the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to a large extent; but given the state of play in Afghanistan, local security forces will be unable to control growth. Narcotics interdiction at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border will help, but only to a limited extent. What will be equally meaningful is the closing down of financial spigots from private sources and allied Muslim countries to proxy organizations of terrorist groups posing as charities or seminaries.

Paying for the war and its next phase of urban counterterrorism will require major financial outlays, and media campaigns and strategic-communication plans against terrorism and extremism. So far, federal budget allocations and grant reports suggest that funding even NACTA and the Interior Ministry is not a priority; this signals poor resolve and internal incoherence from the federal government on its stated goals.

Stay the Course with Kabul

It is clear that the continuing fragility of Afghanistan, and a surge in intermittent bilateral tensions, will only add to the scale of the challenge Pakistan is facing. The International Security Assistance Force, the Afghan National Security Forces, and even U.S. drones have been ineffective in rooting out Pakistani Taliban command centers in Kunar and eastern Afghanistan.

Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah has been challenged politically by splits among the Mehsuds, but to effectively cripple his militancy and messaging reach, and that of others escaping across the border to operate against Pakistan, coordination with Afghan forces is unavoidable and will only be made possible by narrowing the trust deficit between Islamabad and Kabul. Walking the talk on closing down terrorist sanctuaries on both sides will be crucial for denying space to insurgents and foreign fighters. Clearly, the Pakistani Taliban cannot be the only identified enemy. Political change in Kabul should also offer opportunities for regional cooperation while addressing core Pakistan-Afghanistan counterterrorism concerns through a joint strategic agenda.

The international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the “Durand Line,” has been operating as a revolving door for years, and will continue that way absent Western will and money. So Pakistan will have to keep working that long, weak border as an ongoing interdiction priority. A border-security force would be a good idea, as would a broader civilian policy that continues the task of reversing Pakistan’s old power games in Afghanistan. The no-political-favorites-in-Afghanistan plan should stay the course.

Build Bridges with India

Given the history of conflict with our immediate neighbors, foreign policy will become inextricably linked to counterterrorism successes at home. To be able to fight its complex and asymmetrical terrorist enemy, maintaining regional stability is another pressing priority for Pakistan. For meaningful talks with India on Kashmir and trade, the Line of Control must be cooled down through confidence-building measures and continued coordination between high-ranking military officials from both sides. The strategic stalemate and the politics of conditional diplomacy between Islamabad and Delhi will have to be addressed. Unless there is will and clarity in pursuing local terrorist franchises, there will not only be a crippling blowback but also, possibly, a “sanitization” of certain players favoring hardline policies in the region.

Finally, if the human costs of Operation Zarb-e-Azb are not to be squandered, all players must accept that while military action may have been the last resort, it is certainly no silver bullet.

The challenge ahead is huge, but a beginning can be made now. Instead of shrugging this initiative off as a one-off kinetic challenge, it is entirely possible to revisit this existential moment as a historic opportunity for forging a civilian-military agreement. Only then can this one big military operation be scaled up into a coordinated national effort to reverse the dangerous tide of violent militancy that scorches our earth from Karachi to Khyber.

Rehman is the founder and president of Jinnah Institute, a think tank based in Islamabad. She is a former federal minister and served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S.

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6 comments

salim e-a ebrahim July 29, 2014 - 11:38 pm

The residents of North Waziristan did not invite the foreign militants to live amongst them. These militants had the power of the gun to force themselves upon the villagers and they had no qualms killing any who resisted them or killing even those suspected of reporting them to the Pakistani security forces. However, there was no need for anyone to spy or report on these militants because they freely roamed the streets in their Toyota Landcruisers and Hilux trucks and even had Kalashnikovs slung over their shoulders as part of their dressing! These militants had loads of money to spend freely on any services they required for a comfortable life in the towns and villages of Waziristan.
Next, the militants took over the local government by even demanding “tax” money from the shops in the towns of Waziristan in the same way Government political parties demand such “taxes” from every single business house in every nook and corner of Pakistan! (Note: But the government itself is unable to collect taxes!?!) How bold could the terrorists get before they could be caught in the radar of the military’s spy agency which is omnipresent in Pakistan? Does anyone really think that the Pakistani military had no idea of these goings-on? Just like Osam bin Laden staying comfortably right under the Pakistani military’s nose in Abbotabad until the Americans raided his home – and that too happened under the Pakistani military’s embarrassed nose? Talk about stupidity and incompetency besides lies and absolute hypocrisy! The Pakistani military deserves a crown with a medal to boot.
Let it not be forgotten that the Pakistani military has a huge headquarters in the main town Miramshah. It was most certainly the military’s duty to keep tabs on the illegal border crossings into Pakistan from Afghanistan by anyone leave alone by non-citizen terrorists terrorizing the local people of Waziristan. To add insult to injury, Pakistan had an agreement with Afghanistan to seal the Pak-Afghan border! Why didn’t they? Because – they were and still are – afraid of getting their balls crushed if not altogether chopped off by the foreign militants. The so-called military operation in Waziristan is simply a camouflage to hide the military’s cowardly yellow liver using Waziristan as the scapegoat – sacrificed to save the repugnant image of the Pakistani Military.
When the militant presence of the terrorists in Waziristan became an embarrassment for the Pakistani military because of their bold attacks on Pakistani airports, the Pakistani military took the shortest way out of their lack of initiative and inaction of many years. They simply turned on the one million innocent native Waziris – men, women, children, the sick, the aged, the toddlers, the infants and even the newly born – as if they were accomplices of the foreign militants; and turned them out of their homes in a matter of a few hours at best. There was no assistance provided of any kind whatsoever to these people in terms of transportation and help with their paltry possessions to make life bearable on the long trek to nowhere. They were required to get out of their towns or cities on the pretext that it had been designated as a war zone.
This is the real and true face of the fiendish force called the Pakistani military. To add insult to injury, the Pakistani military created hurdles by preventing these newly turned refugees (IDPs, internally displaced persons) from moving forward into inhabited areas but kept them stationary in various open, wilderness places in baking heat so as to issue them with “refugee identification numbers” – and that too by a very limited number of such workers – without providing adequate food or drinking water even for the old, the sick, the children and the women. Moreover, this grotesque institution of Pakistan called the Pakistani military even refused international aid which was prepared to help with drinking water, food and tents for shelter.
After that the Pakistani military carpet bombed the refugees’ towns and villages calling it “surgical operations”. Does the photo look like a surgical operation or an operation by a sick, cowardly ham-fisted fiend?
The sick, cowardly and murderous Pakistani military now sits back and boasts of having done a magnificent job in spite of the fact that the militants had escaped a long time ago after having shaved their beards and long hair way back when. They had started the move back into Afghanistan in the spring, as far back as March 2014 – four months ago. No militants suffered the pain and trauma of the military offensive in Waziristan – they were long gone by mid-June 2014. The Pakistani military did what comes naturally to cowardly national forces: murder from the air without exposing themselves to any danger whatsoever. In fact, announcing that there was going to be a military operation months before it was undertaken was simply to give ample time to the militants to clear out of the area and back into Afghanistan so that there would be no need for a confrontation between them and the Pakistani military.
After all, it is these very same militants and terrorists that are nurtured by Pakistan to create instability in Afghanistan. Wikileaks had revealed the US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson’s cable to the US Secretary of State dated as far back as 19th February 2009 in which she had said, “… we need to lay down a clear marker that Pakistan’s Army/ISI must stop overt or tacit support for militant proxies (Haqqani network, Commander Nazir, Lashkar-e-Taiba, etc). We should preface that conversation with an agreement to open a new page in relations; Kayani (then Chief of Staff of Pakistani Armed Forces was on his way to the USA to work out a cooperation policy between Pakistan and the USA), who was ISI Chief from 2004-2007, does not want a reckoning with the past. Given the GOP (Government of Pakistan) surrender of Swat to the local Taliban (note carefully that the Pakistani Military along with the GOP had at one time even surrendered huge chunks of Pakistan starting just a 100 miles away from the capital city of Islamabad and stretching all the way to the border with Afghanistan which would have included North and South Waziristan), we need to press Kayani to commit his now reluctant Army to retake the area after the ‘peace deal’ (with the Taliban) inevitably fails.” _Anne Patterson, US Ambassador to Pakistan.
As a Pakistani myself I want to ask you, the people of Pakistan, who so praise the presently on-going action taken by the Pakistani military in North Waziristan: Can we apply the same logic to Karachi and Peshawar that has been applied to Waziristan? The specious logic applied is that since the terrorists were “hiding” in Waziristan’s cities and towns, therefore they deserved to be carpet bombed. But, since these terrorists from Afghanistan and Central Asia as well as other terrorists from the Southern provinces of Pakistan are also hiding in Karachi and Peshawar from where they boldly attack targets like the Karachi and Peshawar Airports; and have even shot at and killed passengers aboard flights landing at these airports; bombed crowded city markets and even mosques in many cities of Pakistan; therefore these two cities in particular (and later other Pakistani cities in general), should be carpet bombed?
This appalling mass Pakistani thinking is the saddest revelation on the Pakistani culture: a morally bankrupt, corrupt, murderous, callous culture. Do you object to this typification of Pakistanis? Every single Pakistani is responsible for the typifying characteristics attached to Pakistani culture.
For the benefit of those who deny national cultural traits, here below are listed the more crude, callous, cruel and contemptible cultural characteristics of Pakistan and Pakistanis (but there are many, many more, if that can be believed!):

1. Stop a passenger bus. Unload all the Shia women, men and children passengers. Make them kneel on the ground. Shoot them in the head – in the name of God – they are Shia and deserve death. Are you telling me the government and the military cannot do anything about that? Then why are they in government and military?
2. Burn down the houses of the Ahmadiya, kill them when they try to escape the flames – in the name of God.
3. Burn down a Christian church or a Hindu temple – in the name of God.
4. Iif some mad person from anywhere in the world defames Islam on YouTube then riot on the streets and then block the knowledge available on YouTube – in the name of God.
5. Rape a woman and then have her whipped 100 lashes in public for having committed “adultery”. Whip her but let the rapist go scot free because there is “no evidence” – in the name of God.
6. When a raped woman files a complaint with the police, the police take her into custody for her own safety from her own family’s “wrath”. Then the police will take turns raping the helpless lone woman through the night – without any fear of God.
7. A raped woman brings “dishonor” to her family so the male members of the family will knife or shoot her to death and go scot free – Pakistani culture.
8. If a woman refuses to marry her father’s choice of a man ten, fifteen or even twenty years her senior but elopes to marry her own choice, the male members of the family will knife or shoot her to death and go scot free – Pakistani culture.
9. If a mullah of a mosque frames a person for blasphemy but is himself caught having planted the false evidence, he will go scot free but the person he framed will still be killed by his congregation – in the name of God.
10. If a person speaks out against the blatant abuse of blasphemy laws, he will be killed – in the name of God.
11. Every other male person in Pakistan has “Mohammad” as his first or middle name. Throw his calling card into the garbage can and you will be hauled in – for blasphemy – by the local mullah and his bunch of desperadoes looking to making an easy buck – in the name of God.
12. If there is a flood coming down a river, the feudal landowners will purposely break the dykes so that the water can flood the villages but not flood their lands. They will go scot free – Pakistani culture.
13. Youngsters roam the streets on motorbikes targeting to rob people at their whim. They even board buses to rob passengers. Anyone resisting is shot or thrown out of the speeding bus. They do not wear masks. They are released by the police on payment of a cut of the loot – Pakistani culture.
14. “Bonded” brick workers are literally enslaved for life – women, men and children – and the government turns a blind eye to the cruelty of generation upon generations enslaved in the modern age. These workers themselves elect their masters/owners to the local government to escape being maimed – Pakistani democracy.
15. Women’s schools are bombed debarring them from getting an education – in the name of God.
16. Girls are married off the day they reach puberty – in the name of Shariah.
17. The landlords become the parliamentarians because the landless serfs are forced to vote for them – or get evicted from the land – Pakistani democracy.
18. The Pakistani presidents, prime ministers, parliamentarians, military generals and bureaucrats amass millions of rupees – error, billions of US dollars – in offshore banks – Pakistani democracy, simply a means to loot the state, impoverish the people.
19. Terrorist and extremist safe havens are created in tribal areas by the military and the government. The uneducated and the abused tribes without any rights as individuals, without access to government services of the least kind, without any social services of any kind are then blamed for creating these terrorist havens – Pakistani democracy.
20. Children have no playgrounds whatsoever to play on so they are forced to play on the streets dodging the passing cars, buses and motorcycles – Pakistani democracy.
21. There are no public toilets – please use the side of the road. What about the women? Don’t ask but be sure to cover them from head to toe – Pakistani culture.
22. Rudeness on the road, selfishness on the road, wrong-sided driving everywhere, mad hooting, traffic jams that refuse to dissolve for hours – Pakistani culture.
23. Every store in every Pakistani city, town or village pays a protection fee – extortion by political parties to keep their coffers full. There is terrorizing with guns and public displays of brutality by the party militants to discourage opposition. The police enjoy the shows of public brutality. When the Taliban learn to do the same thing on their turf then it is defined as terrorism. Hypocrisy compounded by deceit – Pakistani culture.
24. Acid in the face. You have a beautiful face, woman? Cover it up quick! The Pakistani male is worse than the Taliban. He will ask you to go out with him. Then he will want sex. If you refuse at any time, he will spray your beautiful face with car acid – your beauty turned grotesque by the devil’s own son. He will walk away scot free – Pakistani culture.
Alas, Pakistanis growing up in such an environment lack a sense of gratitude. Without gratitude a person is a pagan regardless of the number of prayers he says in a single day. And he will remain a pagan all his life.
On the eve of Eid al-Fitr, 27 July 2014, we Pakistanis celebrated one of the greatest nights in the Muslim year in gratitude to God for forgiving our grossest sins of the past year in return for having observed a fast of 30 (no less) days promising God we would behave in a God-conscious and God-fearing manner (taqwa) from hence onwards. In actual fact we celebrated this holy night by becoming a mob led by our prayer leaders in the mosque, killing children and women, burning houses, destroying homes and livelihoods – all this in the name of God – sick and savage Pakistanis did the following as reported in the Dawn, July 29th, 2014:
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) (said) in a statement: “The HRCP is shocked and disgusted at the killings after a blasphemy allegation. As things stand in the country now, particularly in Punjab, a blasphemy charge, however unfounded, makes such cold-blooded killings somehow less repulsive. The people who were killed were not even indirectly accused of the blasphemy charge.
“Their only fault was that they were Ahmadi. Torching women and children in their house simply because of their faith represents brutalization and barbarism stooping to new lows.
“… the mob cheered as the deceased and injured cried for help.
“… why police failed to act as the mob went around a number of Ahmadi localities before they eventually chose the one that they decided to target?
“Members of the mob and the people who instigated them need to be identified and brought to justice. Most importantly, the biases and intolerance that led to the killing must be rooted out through proactive and meaningful steps if we are to survive as a civilized society.” – (civilized we certainly are not!)
NOTE: “The Pakistani mainstream Urdu media contributes to the dehumanization of the Ahmadis by hiding the facts and motives of the arson attacks and never bothering to report on hate crimes and faith-based murders (i.e. murdering “in the name of God”!) of Ahmadis across Pakistan.” _Rabia Mehmood, Dawn.com

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Paul Wallace July 30, 2014 - 1:37 am

A thorough, excellent, well-written article

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Sawan Khaskheli August 1, 2014 - 9:52 pm

The stern action (operation) in North Wazirstan was the need of an current epoch. Thousands of the people were being killed without showing any reason. No any know to the people who was being killed & nor the know to killer why he is doing such type sin. Countless mothers & fathers have been lost their kids & youths. All the innocent persons who were killed or murdered in the name of religion by the persons who doesn’t know about the religion. Mostly terrorists were seemed of the age of youngest & keen of die to have the vision of to meet with Hoor (The lady of paradise). No any old age terrorists have died for the sack of Islam,
In the current scenario, hundreds of the Madrsahs have been opened in the rural areas of the country including Sindh province. Our schools are being run without the students & some where without teachers but there Madrsahs are full with devotees & learners. All facilities at Madrsah level are being provided by Molvies. Our all cities Like Karachi, Lahore, Pindi even Isb were not safe & our economy has been shuffled to back. Many of the industries have been made close & thousands of the people succumbed of unemployment. Other hand, terrorist were openly tackled their activities & harassed the people of the country.
Federal Govt initiated the talks with them to mobilize them & give them safe way to go their origin but unfortunately they missed the opportunity & again started the explosions for killing innocent people to avert the Govt for acceptance of their demands. But I salute to our brave & intelligent Army who decided to start the operation with the name of Zarb-e-Azb & puzzled the terrorist to where they flee. Finally the network of the terrorists have been collided & terrorists have no look to find the safe area in North Wazirstan. Many of the terrorists have been killed & rest will be seen same future. Now Wazirstan is no remained safe heaven to terrorists & nor easy to flee from there. Insha Allah the time is not away when our brave heros will completely possess the area & it to be announced open for all.

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Muhammmadi August 18, 2014 - 5:32 pm

Sorry to say, please correct your information, Jamat-ud-Dawah Pakistan is never been involved in sectarianism.

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Imran Ahmed November 24, 2014 - 10:45 pm

Yes? They preach forbearance towards Shias, Christians and Ahmadis?

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Imran Ahmed November 24, 2014 - 10:43 pm

Our present general in charge seems to be competent but no general and no army can tackle the ideological part of this battlefront alone.
Our government with its subordinate uniformed services working synchronously needs to come up with a counter narrative to combat terrorists who cleverly manipulate religion and hence public sympathy.
This counter narrative has to be shared by schools, madrassahs, mosques, major political parties and major institutions.

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