Why are we allowing the Taliban an easy victory?

Published: June 27, 2012

Two bike riders attacked Aaj TV and gun shots were fired leaving two personnel of Aaj TV injured. PHOTO: REUTERS

Call it brutality, insanity or ignorance, but what happened on June 25, 2012 will be remembered as yet another defeat in this war against terror which we are supposedly fighting.

News stories day before yesterday stated that Taliban insurgents from across the border in Afghanistan – with the help of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – attacked a military patrol area in the Upper Dir district. Six soldiers were killed in gun battles and eleven went missing after the attack. Moreover, seven soldiers were reported to have been beheaded.

Sickening and medieval, but so true and common in the Pakistan of today.

An official of the security forces said that dozens of militants attacked the check-post around 6:00pm from across the border. Intelligence officials blamed the attack on loyalists of Pakistani cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who fled to Afghanistan after losing control of Swat to the army.

As the day came to pass, we heard another sad story, and this time it was of an incident of the Taliban attacking a media news channel. Although we as Pakistanis are used to such atrocities that occur on daily basis, this incident was still shocking.

Two bike riders attacked Aaj TV  and gun shots were fired leaving two personnel of Aaj TV injured. Minutes later the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack. The reason given was that Aaj failed to give them proper coverage on their attacks and was involved in propaganda against TTP.

The picture which these attacks paint is very straight forward; the TTP terrorists are roaming around the country and across the border freely and they can strike you whenever they wish to.

I think it is time for our government to listen to what Defence Minister Leon Panetta has been saying for months– Pakistan is a safe haven for terrorists in the border region of Pakistan-Afghanistan.

What was unfortunate was that no other news network provided the terrorist attack on Aaj TV with enough coverage.

My question to these channels is very simple:

When will you speak up?

Is it when the Taliban will attack your building? It will be too late then.

Let’s not get terrorised and hide behind our walls; united, we will stand and when divided we will surely fall.

Our media should stand together and start a massive campaign against actions laced with extremism all across Pakistan whether it’s TTP or any other terrorist organisation. Media should responsibly educate people and urge them to stand together and ask our government and military establishment to adopt a zero tolerance policy against the extremism breeding in the tribal areas.

We have lost 35,000 innocent lives in Pakistan in this war against terrorism and yesterday was just another day that claimed almost 11 innocent lives. This cyclical story will never end until we as Pakistanis stand together. We should all put our foot down and assure our government that we support their actions against terrorism, no matter what the means.

If you think about it then it is a simple solution. If we can eradicate the top leaders of TTP, it will set chaos in their circle and force them to scatter, thus giving us a chance to hunt them down. Drones can give us these specific results as they are much more effective and quick as opposed to a massive on foot operation.

Yes, I still believe drones are our best bet as I blogged about it earlier here at The Express Tribune.

If we can kill the roots of extremism, we will very soon witness the downfall of terrorism that has, tragically, become a part of our everyday lives.

Read more by Hasaan here or follow him on Twitter @shanihashmi  

Pirzada Hasaan Hashmi

Pirzada Hasaan Hashmi

The writer is a political activist and a spokesperson for IHRP (Interfaith Harmony for Religious Peace). He tweets @shanihashmi

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Zalim Singh

    Because they are your own children. If they were attacking Indian forces and comitting those attrocities, the whole of Pakistan would be dancing with glee.Recommend

  • Haris

    Hassan, I think this was a well written piece so well done on that. However I feel your ideology is a little too liberal. One would think if you came into power (although I know you are not a politician) you would let America and Israel dictate all of your policies as you seem very impressed by them. Slightly too liberal a doctrine for one to have in my opinion. But as they say each to their own. Recommend

  • ezaz

    Until third last para, it seemed to be something new. But Mr. Hashmi, who thinks that he understands war strategies very well and has grave concern for humanity, is still reluctant to admit the inhumane aspect of drones.. wait a minute! does he know that TTP admits that its leadership is in Afghanistan and not in Pakistan?? Surely, now Mr. Hashmi will suggest its still necessary to drone our tribes out of existence because once TTP’s leadership lived there.Recommend

  • Anon

    And my question is that arnt channels already speaking up or have you been living under a rock?Recommend

  • expat

    @Haris
    You mean his ideology is too attention seeking? Even liberals are not in the blind favor of drones because they know it is detrimental in the long run. True liberals such as people like Ken Roth Nick Kristof and human rights activists and respected organisations like Amnesty International and United Nations do not support drones, only those who have no regard for human life or who think their lives are better than that of those who live in areas like FATA WANA (hence if any innocents get killed they are collateral damage)
    Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    Zalim Singh: True. All thanks to Zia ul Haq for the present he gave us. Since the 80′s, we have had a very bad habit of letting the terrorists fight for us. Even today we’d do the same because religon sells like hot dogs in this country and we don’t even have enough electricity, fuel and other resources to power us. Our nuclear is only an antique which we can polish every now and then like the hard ball that won the ’92 world cup.Recommend

  • syed

    where were you and your stand before when pakistan military attacked there area on american demand…………..Recommend

  • syed

    it is an unconfirmed news too…………that the TTP was involved in the attack………………Recommend

  • Alami Musafir

    “If we can kill the roots of extremism, we will very soon witness the downfall of terrorism that has, tragically, become a part of our everyday lives.”

    “Yes, I still believe drones are our best bet as I blogged about it earlier here at The Express Tribune.”

    Hasaan, might it be that the root cause of extremism ISN’T the Taleban, so that drones would not get rid of the problem ?

    Drones have been in use since 2004, and have had the opposite effect to the one intended, as the latest beheadings have shown.

    Please realise that the real motive of drone attacks is to exacerbate the feeling of poor and desperate tribesmen that the Pakistani state is gunning for them and that the only escape is to bring that state down. Drones are to foment civil war, which is why drone attacks continue despite the rise in terrorism.

    It is already too late to save Pakistan, so hopelessly incompetent are our state institutions and military. The only entities who realise the dangers are religious parties who are immune to Western propaganda. They are portrayed as medieval bigots and their views are disregarded.Recommend

  • ahmad

    what you sow you shall reap, goes for us and especially for the Zia supporters.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    How come Pakistan Tribal area is the safe haven when the attack on Pakistan Forces is coming from across the border Afghanistan?Recommend

  • Muhammad Hanif Awan

    Our MEDIA n COURTS are surely afraid of TTP or TERRORISTS n both are running behind THE PPP,n trying to save their faces ,by doing this ,indirectly ,they are supporting TTP…ALMIGHTY ALLAH will save us from these ALL KIND OF EVILS ,………………..Recommend

  • The Patriot

    Justifying drone strikes and other such extra judicial killings in the name of the greater good is detriment to the cause of peace and prosperity,

    I don’t mean to be Taliban Sympathizer, but they are not Children of a lesser God. They have a right to form their opinions, ideology, and act upon what they think is right.

    No-one should have the right to subject them or for that anyone to the ‘Signature strikes’. If they do wrong, they should atleast be given a fair trail. Which civilized society, including United States and Israel ( Who you clearly idealize), allow their citizens to be subjected to such BRUTAL acts.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @The Patriot:
    Dude, for a fair trial you have to catch them first. Each time you try (half-heartedly), you end up with body bags. And your solution is to stop drone strikes – how will that help – did the Maulana who is blamed for these acts flee Swat because of drone strikes? Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    If we allow ourselves to be half as much outraged by the activities of the Taliban, as we are outraged by the efforts of USA, we could rid ourselves of this terrorist scourge.

    For a change, let us hate the cancer and not the chemotherapy. Yes, the chemotherapy is nauseating, but it is an effective mode of treatment.Recommend

  • elementary

    Mopping the floor while leaving the tap on just isn’t going to work.Do you want to try another ten years before you realize that?.Tackling an adversary takes a bit more than “just kill them” approach. Do you know what their ideological/intellectual and human capital source is? where is this all emanating from? Recommend

  • elementary

    @Loneliberal PK: Good analogy.
    However Chemotherapy in majority of cancers does not cure,merely delays the inevitable.
    Radical surgery taking out the source and the root of Cancer has much higher rate of success/cure.
    we need to concentrate on the source. Recruits,fundings,weapons, Alma-mater/ideological source,training sites etc.we should eliminate these along with the safe havens to have any chance of success.
    To stop Malaria you don’t normally shoot the mosquitos as they hatch rather you spray the swamp where they breed.Recommend

  • Pirzada Hasaan Hashmi

    @Haris:
    Thanks for comment about blog & about what i will do > i will simply do whatever is in the best interest of Pakistan > & in diplomacy : No friends forever > No Enemy forever :)
    RegardsRecommend

  • Anon

    Hasaan, u r assuming that everyone is as rational and clear in their outlook as u r! PTI, PML N share an ideological affinity with the Taliban and their local Jihadi partners. Same with our current judiciary which also shares similar views and has releases self – confessed killers like Malik Ishaq. Most of our media still promotes Taliban apologists like Imran Khan, Fareed Paracha, Orya Maqbool Jan, Ansar Abbasi etc while our real rulers still consider them assets. PPP could even save its own leaders from them and are too busy defending their every act in court.
    The country needs more voices who can inform the public about the horrors of the Taliban and their local allies who are massacring Shias every day. Sadly we have too many apologists so good to see someone like u talking some sense.Recommend

  • hassan

    US recognizes two types of militants; those who wish to only attack US interests and those who wish to cause mayhem only in India. US is not concerned about the latter. So, the strategy of US is to contain only one group of militants and that is why it is not making any headway.

    Pak classifies three types of militants:

    1.) Those who want to destabilize US (both in Pak and elsewhere) by plotting 9/11 kind of attacks. (al-Qaeda and TTP, Haqqani kind of groups.)
    Official Pak Policy: These guys give us bad press but they are essential to tame Afghanistan and make it a client state of Pak after 2014. Don’t touch them.

    2.) Those who want to destablize Pak with Lal Masjid kind of self-created problems which justify suicide bombings. (Illiterate, hot-headed guys with Madrassah training believing in Paradise with virgins.)
    Official Policy of Pak: Army does not know if these guys are friends or foes. But it is clear that these guys are nuisance makers and need to be dealt with firmly, but only occasionally. But, the catch is, if you punish them, majority of the populace who much love bearded guys will rise up in protests. Better to wait and watch till the elections are over.

    3.) Those terrorists who have only target in mind: India. (Funded by various agencies, including the establishment.Madrassahs provide initial recruits but they are taken over by ‘non-state actors’.) They are lovingly known as Mujahideens and Freedom fighters.
    Official Policy: They are our proxies, give us the advantage of a low-cost war and thus they need to be protected and nurtured at all costs. They come in handy to inflict India a few bleeding cuts whenever they aspire to become a ‘super-power’.

    Is it possible that one group can easily mutate into another one ? Is there convergence of interests among these three groups ?

    As you can see, there is not even an agreement on who are the bad guys and good guys even among the allies.US is cutting the arms of Hydra hoping it won’t grow again and Pak is shooting at a black cat in a dark room.

    The strategy of both the countries are such that it is not likely to eliminate terrorism in near future. US, the super power, can protect itself (since it is far away) by securing its borders with strict immigration control. India being a soft state will continue to suffer minor and major cuts by the low-cost, by efficient proxies. Afghanistan, will see a lot of violence till Taliban comes back to power. Only then we will realize we did not give them easy victory but lazy walk over. Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    P.H.Hashimi
    Yeah right..! a back to square one blog. Lets bomb them to stone-age. Drones are extrajudicial killing & = murder.Recommend

  • Romm

    US FUNDED ARTICLERecommend

  • Faisal

    By the way !! does anyone remember who attacked on Aaj TV on 12th May 2007?? Ahhhmmmmm hmmmmm!!!Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @elementary:
    To continue with LoneLiberal PK’s excellent cancer analogy, treatment depends on the stage of cancer and how many sensitive organs are compromised – after a certain point, just targeting the original source may not do because the malignancy is too widespread. Here I see the Taliban as a mere physical manifestation of the cancer – the actual root is the misguided philosophy/ belief system that they were taught in the madrassas that continue to supply them fresh recruits, and narrow-minded right wing organizations that are spreading their tentacles well beyond these border areas, telling poor believers that the Taliban is fighting against the infidel and not against them.Recommend

  • SoCalledLiberalFascist

    Crush the Taliban NOW!!!! Recommend

  • mr. righty rightist

    @Zalim Singh.

    You say They are your children.

    You are wrong. Taliban is Pakistan’s father, today. Today, they dictate terms. Taliban and Taliban apologists like DPC, JI are the ones who have the country under control.

    Don’t you know how under pressure from these entities, Zardari had to do a volte face on Sarabji’s clemency?Recommend

  • Tahir

    Enough said. These stupid and naive views of the state of affairs from an educated writer is truly appalling. DO YOU HAVE EVEN THE REMOTEST IDEA WHAT THESE DRONE ATTACKS DO? first of all, imagine this. I have a gun and I enter your house and say that you are a suspected militant and then shoot you. Is that fair? Did I even give you a chance to speak? To prove yourself or your innocence? Who am I to make a decision that you are a militant and then who am I to enter your house and shoot you based on my suspicion???
    Moreover, lets say that I shoot you. I am sure you must have a very extended family with brothers, sisters, courins, friends etc etc…. what would be their reaction? I am sure they would not come to me and put garlands around my neck. They all would be out seeking revenge. They all would be looking out for me and kill me whenever and wherever possible. This is what is happening in drone strikes. Even one civilian casualty causes hundreds of others to stand and take revenge. Who should they take revenge from? The US armed forces are not there. Who is their friend? yes, you guessed it right. So who should they kill? Yes, you guessed it right.
    Has anyone in the media ever given these grive striken people any coverage? Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy can go all around the world winning Oscars by showing acid atrocities. Americans love it and they give Oscars. I can bet a million dollars ( If i had that much) that if another Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy makes a documentary on the lives of the families devestated by the drone attacks, she would be declared an extremist, loyals to the terrorists and all that American jargon regarding the terrorists.
    Get real people, This is bound to happen. Recommend

  • Syed Maqssod Shah

    Good article ! But the people and parties who are funding and helping TTP should be traced and by imposing bann on the activities of such oganizations, severe actions should be taken then onwards to eradicate TTP.Some of the people of our own country are involved in supporting TTP, either morally, or financialy. They are really brutal , barbaric and savage. All the world is after them , and they arent taliban, they are Zaliman, real cruel people, who want to crush everyone who opposes them.Lets CRUSH them……..Recommend

  • Syed Maqssod Shah

    Good article. But the people and organizations , who are funding the TTP should be traced out first as Mr. elementary said above . The people who are giving hands to TTP , have same idealogy of extremsim. Islam prohibit extremism. The way of TTP isnt the way of islam.These are the Khawarij people who have been extreme since the time of Hazrat Ali A.S. The TTP crush everyone who dosnt agree with them .Lets CRUSH themRecommend

  • malik

    @Tahir:
    “DO YOU HAVE EVEN THE REMOTEST IDEA WHAT THESE DRONE ATTACKS DO?”

    Drones, with pinpoint accuracy, target the terrorists and eliminate them mercilessly. That is why, terrorist attacks decrease whenever drones get active in the region. Reg the killing of innocents by drones, have you come across anywhere, in TV or in government lists, the names of persons who died ? Is there a list of people who died in drone attacks ? Is it difficult to compile a list and show the photos of people who died in drone attacks ? Why such a list have never been shown to public ?

    The fact is, there are very deaths of innocent non-terrorists; most are either terrorists or shelter-providers of terrorists. Drones are accurate and they do not differentiate between terrorists and those who provide human cover to such terrorists.

    Also, can you pls tell me, if drones are so bad, why Pakistan says ‘Give us the Drone technology, we will use the drones ourselves !!”Recommend

  • Tahir

    @malik

    My point is that who declares them terrorists? the americans? can we identify an american in the US who is not working in the Pakistani interests (which they all are not) and then declare him a terrorist and then kill him? No one will be able even think about it, let alone execute it. did the person being killed get any free and fair trial to prove if he is a terrorist or not? how would you feel if one of your relatives was declared a terrorist by the US and killed without giving him a change to seek justice? These are against all moral and ethical grounds. Infact, this is against very basic human rights.
    These are our very own pakistanis who are being killed there and we dont give two hoots about the misery that they are going through. All we care is about is the American interests. Recommend

  • Alami Musafir

    @Tahir
    I completely agree with you. I too find it shocking that educated writers and commentators confine their attention to the end results and not to the causes. It is for this reason that I said that its too late to save Pakistan. If the intelligentsia of a nation are unable to comprehend the machinations of foreign powers in the dismemberment of their country, then that nation is finished. This is has occurred and is occurring all over the Islamic world, why should Pakistan escape this fate ? Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    @Pirzada Hasaan Hashmi,

    Nice effort but I think you limited your definition of Terror to TTP or anti-Pakistan terrorists only.

    What about the guys in North Waziristan, whose cancerous offshoots are the TTP in the first place?

    What about the LeT, JeM and other anti-India groups?

    Lets suppose you eliminate a significant part of TTP, do the Terrorists who target US and India need a No Objection Certificate from their masters to align with the TTP the next day?

    TTP, LeT and the Afghan Taliban gathers their followers from the same group. You eliminate this group, you eliminate this group’s ideology, you eliminate Terror.

    Next time, target Terrorism emanating from Pakistan in all forms in your article.

    Good job.Recommend

  • elementary

    @BlackJack:
    Agree. That is my point. we should target the ideological source and the Madrassahs.

    Big madrassah near Peshawar (Akora Khattak ) is said to be the oxford/cambridge of the Jihad industry,majority of top Taliban and Alqeda leaders are it’s “graduates”.
    And this madrassah is fully functional even now.There are 28000 other madrassahs which are registered(probably many more unregistered ones) with 60,000 students(Talibs) enrolled.

    Drones may give you temporary relief in military terms but it’s not going to eradicate the probelm,if anything it will furthur fuel it.Recommend

  • gp65

    @elementary: “we should target the ideological source and the Madrassahs.
    Big madrassah near Peshawar (Akora Khattak ) is said to be the oxford/cambridge of the Jihad industry,majority of top Taliban and Alqeda leaders are it’s “graduates”.
    And this madrassah is fully functional even now.There are 28000 other madrassahs which are registered(probably many more unregistered ones) with 60,000 students(Talibs) enrolled.
    Drones may give you temporary relief in military terms but it’s not going to eradicate the probelm,if anything it will furthur fuel it.”

    I do not always agree with you but I always find your comments well supported by data/ internally consistent logic. Different people can and do interpret the same data differently which leads to differences in opinion – which is not a bad thing.

    In this case I agree that madrassas are one of the rot cause as are the history and social sciences books taught in regular schools, as is the army’s ned to constantly demonize India so that it can have a large budget. All these root causes have to be addressed.Recommend

  • Pirzada hasaan Hashmi

    @Syed Maqssod Shah:
    Yes, you are right Zero tolerance is the only solution to this problem now.Recommend

  • Pirzada hasaan Hashmi

    @Anon:
    Thanks for your comment and I agree with you that more voices should be raisedRecommend

  • Pirzada hasaan Hashmi

    @Romm:
    Stop linking everything to US . Grow upRecommend

  • Pirzada hasaan Hashmi

    @Zeeshan:
    I am not saying that only Pakistani side is safe heaven for terrorist elements . Border area of both pakistan and Afghanistan is in the red circle. Recommend

  • Pirzada hasaan Hashmi

    @Anoop:
    All organisation whether it’s in tribal area or in mainland Pakistan should be banned if they are working on hardcore extremist Agenda. I don’t agree with you over the group thing you said attacking any sect is not a solution . Never ever Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @elementary:
    We are aligned, but possibly not in complete agreement. Just like you, I believe that you need to target the source, control the material and the funding to at least rescue the next generation from radicalization. However, there may not be a next generation to prepare for if the Taliban gain ascendancy – they need to be eliminated. Now whether the solution is drone strikes or not is a debate that we cannot have because there is no other alternative on the table. Between no action and drone strikes, I prefer drone strikes.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    @Pirzada hasaan Hashmi:

    When I said that groups, I meant radicalized minds forming an imaginary group.

    You have to make sure people don’t get radicalized and join this group. That should be your first target. Recommend

  • Nasamajh

    Mr. Hashmi i like your writing style but you also need to get you facts straight please. Why should Pakistan listen to America when they are the main reason behind this trouble.. what good have countries like Afghanistan and Iraq achieved who listened to America in the last decade. I could this expect this from an American but such a point coming from a Pakistani and a good writer like you has increased my worries about the thinking our youth has..Sigh!!!Recommend

  • elementary

    @BlackJack: It’s not just next generation.It’s the ideological source. Mullah omer according to christina lamb’s book “sewing circles of Herat” used to take inspiration and advice from the rector of “Darul aloom Haqqania” in Akora Khattak, Maulvi Sami ul haq.
    Dry up the idea and militancy will wane. Recommend

  • elementary

    @gp65:
    You have different perspective looking at the same sky from in and outside of the wall window.Any way you find pleasure in those who agree with you but growth in those who disagree with you.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Mr Hashmi,

    Good thinking by Mr Hashmi! What is he proposing the media to respond with, is not very clear? The so called Talibans have beaten the Americans as well as its NATO allies, squarely in Afghanistan. Mr Karzai wants the foreigners out and this should bring stability in Afghanistan.
    The yanks despite their rhetoric can no longer fight the Resistance with drones and IPads? Neither China nor Saudi Arabia are interested any longer to grant further credit to the IYanks.

    Rex Minor . Recommend

  • Adeel Furqan Ahmad

    This is the responsibility of Govt and Army.Recommend

  • http://na naeem

    Mr. Hashmi i think u r extremely ill-informed, its an open secret who the so-called Talibans attacking Pakistan across the border are? And actually who z behind this game?Recommend