Deconstructing a dangerous narrative

Published: November 9, 2013
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Imran Khan’s misinformed narrative is not only feeding an already deeply-entrenched conspiracy-theory culture but also contributing to legitimising the Taliban’s cause. PHOTO: REUTERS

In an angry speech in the National Assembly on Monday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan urged all political parties to unite and stand up to the perceived American pressure to put an end to the drone strikes in Pakistan.

Earlier, reacting emotionally to the US drone strike that reportedly killed Hakimullah Mehsud, Imran took to task his critics on the issue of dialogue with the Taliban. Dubbing them “American mouthpieces” in a rather laymanish way, Imran seemed frustrated with the liberal intelligentsia for not appreciating his quest for the noble cause of peace. While Imran’s intentions may be genuinely benign, it is his misinformed, drone-centric narrative that deserves critical scrutiny.

In the realm of strategic studies, narratives are central to winning wars of ideas. Narratives are,

 “Compelling story lines which can explain events convincingly and from which inferences can be drawn.” (Freedman, Lawrence. 2006. The Transformation of Strategic Affairs. Adelphi Paper 379. London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 22).

Narratives act as interpretative lenses through which average citizens are made to view certain ideas or events in a specific way.

Terrorism is Islamabad’s policy for India and Afghanistan?

In Pakistan, the right-wing narrative about terrorism, spearheaded by Imran and taken up by the PML(N), is based on presumptions that are flawed and perilously over-simplistic.

To begin with, Imran links militancy to drone attacks and Pakistan’s involvement in ‘America’s war on terror. Although the role of drones in fuelling militancy cannot be totally denied, it in no way justifies Imran’s facile viewpoint that reduces terrorism to drone strikes. Terrorism in Pakistan is neither a purely post 9/11 phenomenon nor is it exclusively a consequence of Pakistan’s involvement in the war on terror. Instead, terrorism is a product of Islamabad’s decades-long policy of using militancy as a tool for advancing its strategic agenda in Afghanistan and India. It is primarily the result of Pakistan’s “forward policy” in Afghanistan that began in 1973 and reached climax during the anti-Soviet Afghan jihad.

Exploiting Pashtun hospitality and tacit support for Afghan Taliban

Contrary to the conventional belief, even in the 1980s, Pakistan’s frontline role in the Afghan jihad was not at the bidding of the United States. Rather, the military regime’s support for the Mujahideen was motivated by the traditional concerns of realpolitik about Pak-Afghan relations. Exploiting the Pashtun cultural code of hospitality and their love for religion, Pakistan, with the support of the US and her cold-war-allies, established massive jihadi infrastructure in the tribal belt, and indoctrinated and produced a generation of religious warriors.

Terrorism is primarily the outcome of this persistent investment in militancy. In the post 9/11 period, Islamabad could have tackled terrorism more effectively had it not played the alleged double game in the war on terror. Tacit support to the Afghan Taliban not only thwarted Pakistan’s domestic anti-terrorism efforts but also gained it a tarnished international image—a bitter reality Imran fails to consider when he bewails the perceived US indifference to Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror.

Secondly, contrary to what Imran would want us to believe, Musharraf’s decision to become a partner in the war on terror was a pragmatic decision, though the terms of partnership could have been better. The post 9/11 world found Islamabad caught in a trap of its own making. Given geo-political constraints, Pakistan was bound to get involved in the ‘War on Terror’ in one or the other way. Even if Pakistan had refused to become a part of “America’s war”, the fleeing Taliban militants who would subsequently indulge in cross-border attacks from their sanctuaries in the Pakistani tribal belt would have eventually dragged us into the war. Ultimately, Pakistan would have had to choose an enemy between the Taliban and the US-led international coalition.

Imran naively assumes that the Taliban will renounce violence once drone attacks cease and Pakistan disassociates itself from the US-led war in Afghanistan. A mere look at the threatening pamphlets distributed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) before elections provides deep enough of an insight into their ideology. In fact, TTP’s primary demands include the imposition of Shariah and the abolition of democracy which they regard as a “pagan system”. So, the Taliban are likely to continue fighting even if Pakistan withdraws from the war on terror.

The effects of negotiating with the Taliban

While dialogue is always preferable to over the use of force, the Taliban’s unconstitutional demands, however, offer very little room for negotiations. In this regard, Imran’s oft-repeated reference to American negotiations with the Afghan Taliban makes no sense. While in Pakistan’s case the State’s integrity and survival is at stake. The Afghan case involves a foreign power wanting to negotiate an exit strategy by talking to an indigenous group that it had previously overthrown. Having said that, if political leadership still considers negotiations with Taliban, lessons from the past peace deals must be remembered.

First, in most of the peace agreements, the government negotiated from a position of weakness, demanding too little and offering too much. Most of the agreements were concluded on terms favourable to the militants. Besides, in majority of the cases, significant financial compensations were made and prisoners were released. Almost every time, the militants used these peace deals to buy time to regroup and restrengthen themselves. Most importantly, agreements with militants legitimised their status as representatives of their areas and emboldened their social prestige and power at the cost of tribal elders. Not only was the centuries-old tribal system of dispute resolution by-passed but also the tribal elders were left at the mercy of these militants in the wake of each agreement. The eventual killing of scores of tribal elders destroyed the traditional social hierarchy and left a huge social void which was filled by the militants.

Pakistan and its ‘conspiracy-theory culture’

Imran Khan’s misinformed narrative is not only feeding an already deeply-entrenched conspiracy-theory culture but also contributing to legitimising the Taliban’s cause. It has weakened the country’s resolve to fight terrorism both at the popular and governmental level. Especially, the popular appeal of Imran’s rhetorical narrative has dissuaded the likes of Nawaz Sharif from adopting a more realistic and candid position on the issue. More importantly, Imran’s occasionally rash and overly self-righteous remarks are fuelling the country’s Red-Card culture— a tendency whereby anyone holding different views on important national questions is branded as traitor or a foreign agent.

Whatever the ultimate policy, what Pakistan requires the most, in confronting the menace of terrorism is an honest and well-informed narrative that offers a clear and realistic view of ourselves and the world around.

The current narrative at its best is confused, misleading and delusional. Pakistan needs to take off the self-imposed veil of ignorance and come out of the world of denial. The political leadership, civil society and media must articulate a public narrative that provides an objective and dispassionate account of the rise and growth of terrorism in Pakistan. It should also include, but shall not be limited to, a critical assessment and review of Islamabad’s Afghan policy.

Most importantly, Pakistan needs to convince itself of the need for a more responsible and peace-loving image in the global community of nations.

Rafiullah Kakar

Rafiullah Kakar

A student of Masters of Public Policy (MPP) at the University of Oxford. He is also a Rhodes Scholar. Hailing from Balochistan, he was a member of the Youth Parliament Pakistan last year who occasionally writes for magazines and newspapers. He tweets as @rafiullahkakar (twitter.com/rafiullahkakar)

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

  • Pappu

    But IK definitely wants pouring of American dollars in KPK. Projects of 35 Billion rupees funded by US are included in KPK budget this year. Also to be noted that Finance Minister KPK is from Jamat e Islami. They love US dollars.Recommend

  • Waqar Qureshi

    And it seems if today Imran Khan criticizes Devil, our so called intellectuals will start delivering sermons to defend Devil as well. The biggest shortcut to attention / popularity is to criticize IK ;-)
    Blame everything on Imran Khan. The more Rhodes scholars kind of things criticize him, the more faith I develop in IK.Recommend

  • Zalmai

    Excellent piece! Mr. Kakar keep on writing and hopefully some policy wonks will heed your narrative.Recommend

  • 123xyz

    you are a great sheep. congrats.Recommend

  • 123xyz

    iman khan is a clean shaven dollar begging mullah.
    every year goes to US to beg money.Recommend

  • Pappu

    And America is the most popular devil currently among muslim masses.Recommend

  • Syme

    More importantly, Imran’s occasionally rash and overly self-righteous remarks are fuelling the country’s Red-Card culture— a tendency whereby anyone holding different views on important national questions is branded as traitor or a foreign agent.[sic]
    Not only Imran Khan, also all the right,left and centrists use the same card. This thought has permeated so deeply in the mind of an average citizen that it is impossible to express any alternative view. You have to wear green, put status updates now and then, an untimely jingoistic speech to dispel the ” Red Card allegation”. In doing so, one loses the already settled arguments. And, then patriotism is so muddled with religion that it is extremely dangerous to engage anyone in any kind of serious talk without getting a convenient edict of blasphemer.Recommend

  • Jat

    Very well written !Recommend

  • Umair

    Okay Imran is wrong. So what’s the solution ? Operations or talks ? The article is silent on it. Recommend

  • Tahir

    Let me enlighten you with few things: to make a conclusion on anything, one needs to rely on data analytics which are always helpful in making point of view stronger and look credible. Can you provide us some data analytics on how many suicide bombers drone attacks have produced? How about data analytics on how many people have joined Talibans because of american presence in Afghanistan? How many due to poverty?

    The writer knowingly or unknowingly omitted the decisive factors. Next time we all need to collect some data on suicide attacks on yearly basis.Recommend

  • unbelievable

    Nice article. I had some sympathy for IK during his campaign even though most of his promises were optimistic/naive – but he has devolved into Taliban Khan – a conniving politician who panders for publicity based on anti American sentiment with little regard to the future of Pakistan.Recommend

  • unbelievable

    Nice article. I had some sympathy for IK during his campaign even though most of his promises were optimistic/naive – but he has devolved into Taliban Khan – a conniving politician who panders for publicity based on anti American sentiment with little regard to the future of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Hazrat Wali kakar

    we should unite against the menace of terrorism as nation irrespective of differences on colors, secterains ,and ethnic basis to Pakistan as prosperous country. The writer rightly pointed the mis-leading views of Imran khan on the issue of terrorism and it is not the way to start begging for dailouge with terrorists and even Imran khan stance is too dangerous that he pointed that legitimazing the non-actors as stake holders. another interesting and horrifying statement again given by another PTI lawmaker Syed MUKRAM SHAH,that For the sake for peace ,taliban should included in the cabinets of National and provincails assemblies to givem them Religious affairs portfilios.Pakistan should give clear policy on the issue of Taliban which is clearly in favor of masses to stop further double game to used them as proxies in future.Recommend

  • Kakar

    Brilliant to say the least. Totally subscribe to the substance of the article. To me IK is an enigma. Given his academic and social background one would have expected of him to have come on the side of a forward looking, progressive and liberal political discourse. But weirdly enough he swelled the rank of reactionary and retrogressive forces. IK i think believes in Machiavellian maxim of “there is nothing more important in politics than appearing more religious”. This worldview necessarily entails to support Taliban and their conservative and extremist narrative. He is so hamstrung ideologically that he can’t forcefully condemn the brutal killings of his MPAs, let alone ordinary souls. It must have now dawned on him that negotiation with Taliban is merely a cliche as all the stakeholders are intimately aware that the group is ideologically constrained to play zero-sum game. Can IK afford politically to play it?Recommend

  • Fida Ahmed Advocate

    and Pakistan’s future is in US’s slavery?Recommend

  • perviaz khan

    imran khan is indifferent to the long in practice state narrative of pakistan with its geo political neighbours. he is just extending and is seeking a rational footprints for it. which seems to be devoide of reality and function.Recommend

  • unbelievable

    If Pakistan were a slave then it would have eliminated the Haqqani sanctuaries – would have prohibited it’s border soldiers from shooting at NATO troops – would never have closed the NATO supply line.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Imran Khan means well……. but he fails in understanding how to convert his feelings into an action plan that would actually work within the framework of our politics and the ground realities that exist.Recommend

  • Juni

    IK is the product of the same group who regularly produce fake politicians and keep maligning democracy.Recommend

  • Tahir

    Pakistan did not start to play double-game with USA, it only countered double-game initiated by CIA/RAW who created & sponsored a group of terrorists to destabilize Pakistan – as a result WoT sufferedRecommend

  • TTV

    We should be negotiating from a position of power. We must make it clear to the Taliban that if they do not lay down their arms, the army won’t hesitate to wipe them out. Unfortunately, the likelihood of the govt giving the TTP such an ultimatum is very low.Recommend

  • Fida Ahmed Advocate

    closing NATO supply line is due to none else than the great Imran Khan! The accurate drones could have finished all its opposition if so desired by the sole super power. But its game plan seems to be smarter than many can imagine.Recommend

  • Guest

    You are absolutely ignorant of international dynamics. Development aid is given by countries to their perceived allies in area of health and infrastructure; however, they entail no agreement that the country giving funds can violate sovereignty of the state. In short, KP province has received no aid which stipulates that it allows drone strikes, nor it dictates any policy matter.

    And most of the aid is federal government subject and comes through budget.Recommend

  • Taimoor Khan

    Development aid is given by countries to their perceived allies in area of health and infrastructure; however, they entail no agreement that the country giving funds can violate sovereignty of the state. In short, KP province has received no aid which stipulates that it allows drone strikes, nor it dictates any policy matter.

    And most of the aid is federal government subject and comes through budget.Recommend

  • Taimoor Khan

    Very weak and American-centeric narrative. It doesn’t help that the author sits in London and has to see the matter from the eyes of usual anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim propagandist.

    IK is a national leader, not an armchair critic. He has to rally the nation behind him to achieve meaningful change. His narrative is accurate, but of course Pakistan-centeric as it has to be – he is a Pakistani leader after all.

    There was NO TTP (pakistan Taliban) before 2007. Drones and military operations created an anti-Pakistani insurgency in FATA and this is a fact.Recommend

  • Taimoor Khan

    No sheep, but informed and enlightened supporter of a great leader who can see through the shoddy characters and relish in it!Recommend

  • Taimoor Khan

    IK of course has a progressive and liberal discourse, but those who equate such a discourse with drumbeating for American neocons and western designs, are bound to be disappointed.

    Imran Khan is like Jinnah and Iqbal. He is enlightened but not slavish.Recommend

  • x

    ANother guy riding on the wings of the culture of IK bashing plus ‘taliban apologist’ bashing. Double whammy. woohoo. ‘Taliban apologists’ despise the Taliban as much as you Mr. Kakar but we simply point out the FACT that has America made any progress in 12 years of war in Afghanistan? or for that matter in Iraq or Egypt? It just works for its gains. So do the Taliban. And so must Pakistan. No one has won any war in Afghanistan, against their guerilla warfare and killing one Baitullah, Hakeemullah, even fazlullah will make no difference. They have many more waiting in line to die for this great cause. We are in a position of weakness. Accept it. Move on and act accordingly. Get off your high horse. Pakistan has stakes, not America. We need a negotiated settlement, a political solution because military solution has failed as history has shown. Please don’t peddle these lala land rhetorics.Recommend

  • Sam

    how is Pakistan’s future in US slavery? I don’t even think u will hear any news involving this part of the world after US withdrawal from Afghanistan. they don’t have time for u guys.Recommend

  • Omer

    What do you think should be done? Man! If you really want to do something come back to Pakistan. Nobody wants to hear your views while you are sitting in the UK and judging IK’s stand.. Come down here and then we will talk.Recommend

  • zafar

    if terrorism is outfall of pakistani govt policy to gain strategic depth in afghanistan, should it employ that america continue drone strikes in our country?Recommend

  • Omer

    Where did my comment go?Recommend

  • umair a

    a logical effort aimed at negating ground-realities. thats exactly what happens when u use bookish knowledge to support ur personal biases.i would love know ur well informed sources that give u inside stories beyond the fog of war. this war is militarily unsustainable and economically unviable. I sujest u read details of army actions in tribal areas and their outcomes in “inside pakistan army” by “carey schofeild”Recommend

  • Muneeb Shaikh

    Boss, give the solution…..We Know IK is wrong, IK is the root cause of all the problems…Give the solution BossRecommend

  • Satesh Kumar

    Why doesn’t IK understands that when Salala Attack protest didn’t stop NATO containers then how does he expect that a protest against Americans on killing of a high profile target “Hakimullah” via drones can do it…!!!Recommend

  • Aamna Hassan Fasihi

    Excuse me, but all Shahid ullah Shahid said in a phone call to a major media house of Pakistan was that Taliban are ready to cease fire once Drones are stopped. How should I not mistake the narrative to be same as what Imran Khan links it to?Recommend

  • Gul Khan

    Than IK should not stop NATO supplies. These are per Federal government with US and do not violate Pakistan sovereignty.Recommend

  • Gul Khan

    Than IK should also not stop NATO supplies. These are per Federal Government agreement with US and do not violate Pakistan sovereignty.Recommend

  • RizwanUllah

    Don’t agree with as there are some contradiction what Kakar is stating here… HE more like blaming Pakistani establishment for their hypocrisy & narrow mindset but why? Whats India is doing in Afghanistan & were doing before Soviet invasion? Lets think seriously why US dragged Pakistan to this WAR? Why US failed to defuse Indian influence in Afghanistan creating problem for us in Baluchistan & FATA..? Keep a silent spectator here would bring more & more destruction here…. Yes calling IK naive, coward, confused , complacent etc etc but his resolve is only peace and only peace… Why you people sitting abroad wants destruction & more bloodshed in Pakhtuns land? Why u guys failed to spread the message of peace harmony than targeting Army & ISI?? If this is somebody’s job so let them handle that in their style as they know more what we are writing education from West through an Westernize look… for more clarity about IK please read from 2001 since US invaded Afghanistan… He is absolutely clear in his vision.. See his Documentary “Islam & America through teh eyes of Imran Khan” developed in 2002,,.. Same stance what he is having now… then who is confused, tell me must?

    Regards,Recommend

  • Rizwan

    Such funds are coming through a proper channel & blaming PTI & KPK govt for it is extreme of ignorance & hypocrisy… u must be good reader please…. Don’t uu think before PTI such were never transferred? I would call this your Imranophobia… hence advice a handy checkup for u…! Rest we ready to cease all such funds coming to bleed my Palhtuns brothers & sisters… Mind you its not ANP its PTI , Movement for Justice ok. Regards,Recommend

  • Anooop

    I talked about this very narrative in the blog entry which talked about the movie ‘Waar’.

    http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/19400/6-areas-where-waar-missed-the-target

    In the movie the Indian was the villain. This fits in perfectly well with the narrative of the outsider being responsible.

    Its immaterial if this is true or not. The important thing is what narrative the decision makers and the commoners are going to believe. Because based on those narratives the decisions will be made, a society’s attitude is molded.

    If US blames its drug problem on outsiders, which is in a way true, how will it fight it? If India does the same with its poverty, how will it fight it?

    Also to note is the narrative that Religion has NOTHING to do with Islamist movements in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Yemen, Egypt, Indonesia.. I am sorry I am tired of listing out the Muslim majority countries which are dealing with the exact same ideology under different names and disguises.

    Surely, the narrative this Author tries to correct, must also take this into account.

    A woman was caned in Malaysia for drinking beer. How is that different from the Taliban doing the same the people under their control?

    Fixing a narrative requires absolute truth. Half measures will only complicate things.Recommend

  • Saleem Hasni

    a well written article; very clear and comprehensive but dear Rafiullah Kakar don’t be optimistic regarding your suggestions you have given in the end..this will never be allowed to be acted upon
    by some “metaphysical, supernatural or secret hands”…anyhow your article is praise-worthy. keep on writing :)Recommend

  • rafiullah kakar

    Dear Omer, I am Pashtun. I have lived my entire life in Pakistan. Don’t worry, I will be back. I came to UK just two months ago.Recommend

  • rafiullah kakar

    Dear Omer, I am not someone living abroad. I am Pashtun. I have lived my entire life in Pakistan. I have an equal claim to understanding the dynamics of my region. Don’t worry, I will be back. I came to UK just two months ago.Recommend

  • rafiullah kakar

    Dear Taimoor, I am Pashtun. I have lived my entire life in Pakistan. I came to UK just two months ago. Don’t worry, I will be back. And please don’t be the self-proclaimed THAEKAEDAAR OF PATRIOTISM….Ur remark “usual anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim propagandist” only help in proving my point. I have complained abt this attitude of IK nd his supporters nd u r just doing that….RED-CARD cultureRecommend

  • rafiullah kakar

    For those “patriots” who are criticising me for analysing Pakistani politics from abroad, I hereby inform that I am a Pashtun and have lived my entire life in Pakistan. I came to UK just two months ago. Therefore, I have an equal claim to to understanding the dynamics of militancy that has affected my region. I would rather advise the urban followers of PTI to understand the ground realities of Pashtun land and come out of their ideal world. Secondly, this article does not intends any disrespect to IK. He is a respectable figure and I do respect him.Recommend

  • someone

    Pakistan is and always be a double face entity. The two faces are Army and Civilian government. Both run Pakistan in parallel. Both have different objectives. Unfortunately welfare of Pakistan population is least of their priority. NATO simply asked Pakistan support to eliminate Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Pakistan army caused destruction of Afghanistan by the hands of NATO while keeping OBL in country and US had to do a covert operation which caused huge embarrassment to Pakistan army. Blame it on CIA/RAW as much as you can but world knows the truth about Pakistan. If you think these times are tough, then think about beyond 2014 when Pakistan will loose all its importance to NATO and US. No more free lunch then.Recommend

  • Yousaf Haque

    Solution is to use brains but unfortunately brains have all drained out already….What remains is whimsical and selfish thinking circling around personal gains onlyRecommend

  • Mastishhk

    Where were you till now dude???? We seriously miss thinking and objective people like you in Pakistan. Keep writing without fear and keep spreading the truth. An honest writer like you would be better for the nation’s health than a leader like Imran Khan who is confused at best.

    Pakistan is definitely dogged with an image crisis. Patriotism is still alive but we don’t have any logic to advance in support of Pakistan but empty rhetoric. Our blindness to the ills plaguing our society are sucking us deeper into the abyss. For us every issue confronting us is imported. We hold US responsible for our present condition but do not think twice in refusing dollars than come in disguised as aid. We want IMF and World Bank to extend us soft loans and forget about them. We consider it an interference in our internal affairs if we are told to tax our rich( I remember a report in ET about Hina Rabbani Khar, who was seen flaunting a 7 lakh rupees worth purse, paying a paltry sum of less than seven thousand rupees.

    We are yet to hear any politician raising his voice in an attempt to make Pakistan self-reliant. We won’t have any respite from any crisis till we become self-reliant. Our increasing dependence on US, Saudi Arabia, IMF and World Bank has ensured our loosening grip on our foreign policy. Our domestic policy is non-existence anyways.

    Amidst all this, IK, who could have delivered given his mass appeal and charisma has let us down badly owing to his misplaced priorities.Recommend

  • Mastishhk

    What exactly has IK done or said to be termed as enlightened? Going by his statements, it seems that he would be at ease in a set-up where Taliban are ruling over Pakistan. Imran has emerged as an apologist for brutal actions of Taliban.Recommend

  • Mastishhk

    There are less number of people now rallying behind IK then there were six months ago.. May be the Charisma is wearing off and reality is setting in :)Recommend

  • Fida Ahmed Advocate

    How can an eagle flying in skies be convinced to ‘enjoy the cozy life of the cage’? This really is the problem with IK while his opponents are used to ‘the luxuries of the cage’ since long…..so long that they don’t even know about the thrilling experiences of a free life. The shaheen of Allama Iqbal is misunderstood, misquoted and mistreated….. Recommend

  • Fida Ahmed Advocate

    what r ur ‘real’ politicians? Those who have looted u ruthlessly…? Recommend

  • ali raza

    Kakar brother has explained scholastically the boring face of the flawed Islamabad’s Kabul-centric policy. First we supported the Afghan Mujahidin against the Soviets by the US directions getting nothing but radicalising our social fabric. When the drama got over we left them all alone. In the midst when the madrassa students got strength we switched our loyalties towards them and thereby dissociated our linkage with the old strategic partners. When the tide changed with the 9/11 episode again we had to tick between the with us or with terrorist bi-choice hegemonic directive. Going for the later choice, good or bad, we lost the Kabul strategic sanctuary. In the aftermath our policy has so for been so immature that we own others sorrows and coloured our own land with the blood of our own citizens. Now that the world has come to know about the criss-cross of Afghan affairs we are puzzled with the policy options of where to go whom to befriend and whom to foe. Its a sorry state of affairs we are living in. Unless and until we bring a paradigm shift in our Indo-Afghan centric foreign policy peace and progress will remain questions.Recommend

  • Taimoor Khan

    But drones do. And NATO supply will be blocked until drones are stopped.

    Do you understand now?Recommend

  • Farhad

    Great analysis. The problem with IK supporters is that they would start trolling anyone who would give a different perspective than the one they believe in. The writer has not questioned the suggestion to start a dialogue for resolving the issue. What he has said is that by his excessive emphasis linking terrorism and militancy to Drones and America bashing, he loses sight of the very essential character of the problem itself. The 69 groups that we hear of comprising TTP through loose nexus are not all in tribal areas or affected by drones, nor are their agenda the same. Secondly, while approaching the dialogue from a position of weakness amounts to surrender by the state – something completely against the state theory. No state in the world could afford to be blackmailed by a motley group of terrorists wielding weapons. Only state has monopoly over use of violence- that is the basic principle of statehood. Thirdly a dialogue means compromise or give and take. So what exactly is IK hoping to give the Taliban in the bargain. Hope not Taliban type sharia and rule over FATA/KPK which PTI followers might find very attractive in theory but given a short trial (Afghanistan style of the Taliban years), they will curse and run to Punjab or their adopted homes abroad.Recommend

  • charanjeet maan

    Let us see if Imran Khan declines the US dollars for his state.He won’t say a word against receiving dollars,just like he won’t against TTP.Recommend

  • charanjeet maan

    What does IK have to say to this US aid to victims of Taliban barbarity?http://tribune.com.pk/story/630142/the-road-to-recovery-hope-and-honour-for-victims-of-militancy/Recommend

  • Ahsan Kamil

    views on BLOGS can make a difference on policies. yea write IK carry on! your the leader. ;)Recommend

  • Ahsan Kamil

    I second that!. ;)Recommend

  • Waqar Qureshi

    I have this data ready with me with authentic references. If you are interested, let me knowRecommend

  • Sophya Khan

    No you have no equal claim, please spare us…you are not from FATA and not even from KPK so please do not write about your misguided opinions and than begging every whos’who on twitter to read your blog… you are from baluchistan and you should write about BLA if you like :) leave the FATA and TTP debate to us, the inahbitants of KPK and FATA :)Recommend

  • Gul Khan

    Why you think drone strikes are not carried out through proper channel? Have you witnessed drones being countered by PAF? Recommend

  • Rizwan

    But you should have writing this piece being a pure Paksitani thats never seem to me…. Ok regard your claim but we should understand whats going around in our region……..! Best of luck anyhow..!Recommend

  • Parvez

    Liked your comment.
    Today Pakistan does not need a visionary, an architect…………it needs a builder, an engineer who is willing to do an honest days work.Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Seeing the comments
    below reminds me of the sheep from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, wherein the
    sheep portrayed blind loyalty of the proletariat in the midst of the Russian
    Civil War and, the devotees of Stalin later on.Recommend

  • Sonia

    And they will stop dollars. What would IK do than??Recommend

  • Kamala

    Why dont KPK CM and Govt resign first and than do whatever against US??Recommend

  • Tahir

    Publish it then….My biggest problem with the article published above is that it is not supported by any facts like data analytics…It is just a typical point of view by a left winger and the same problem is with some right wingers like Munnawar Hassan who just in hatred for US can term anyone as martyr and mujahed.Recommend

  • Aman

    Your biasedness is obvious when you fail to mention when Najam Sethi says IK’s children are brough up by jews seconding Maulana Fazal rehman. You also forget when liberals fails to defend military action and start labelling IK as Taliban Khan….This is RED CARD culture and your blessedness is just driving you nuts.Recommend

  • Waqar Qureshi
  • Dkk

    Brilliant piece kakar.Those who are asking for solution must know that understanding the problem is the first real deal.And that is exactly what the writer aims to do.Nobody can understand the current turmoil hit situation of Pakistan than a person who has been at fore front of every crisis,and dear readers pashtuns are exactly those people.Recommend

  • rafiullah kakar

    Dear Farhad, thank u so much for ur wonderful feedback. U have hit the nail on its head. Hope the readers understand it too.Recommend

  • Omer

    I know that you are Pashtoon. All I am saying is that at least IK is doing something let him do it.. You are saying that it was Islamabad who did it. No matter who did it.. Pakistanis are suffer and Pakistan as well! So, If IK is coming up with a solution let him do it.. Stop criticizing people who want to do something Positive. We are already divided. And nobody is doing something. So, I think if we can’t do something ourselves why demoralize someone who intends to make right the wrong doings of many! Omeed de che khafa kegay ba na.. O che zama sa matlab dde pa hagha ba poyege..!!Recommend

  • bigsaf

    No, just like your comment, the narrative is false, which itself is indeed US-centric obsessed. The fact that you conflate the criticisms of Pak and Muslims, highlights the ideological mindset and lack of honest introspection or critical thinking.

    Were there were no extremist attacks or bombings before 2007? There were many. Terrorist violence and bombings and attacks even occurred before 2001 locally, regionally and globally, and Pak was at the center of it, but the majority were clearly oblivious of religio-political Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremist militancy, and how the Pak state patronized it, until it came home to roost.

    TTP didn’t form out of thin air. They had previous experience and memberships varied from the Afghan Taliban, Haqqanis, J-e-M, L-e-J, L-e-T, etc. Not surprisingly all of them were inter-linked and connected, including with Al Qaeda, which includes religious political parties such as JI and those at the DPC. They claimed to be rallying around the Laal Masjid criminals not drones, which actually started earlier in 2005 but weren’t as effective and their primary complaint until much later. Swat was taken over with ease in 2006 by militants who fought in Afghanistan and linked to the Taliban, and had a local history of religious extremist rebellion against the Pak state (TSNM), and the likes of J-e-M, whom Omar Saeed Sheikh, the Daniel Pearl killer, committed in the early 2000’s way before 2007, was a member of and very active, and was part of the Indian Airways hi-jacking deal in the late 90’s that got him released and free to roam Pak.

    So bottom line…it is not drones or military operations that created them. These monsters were created a long time ago and unfortunately the Pak state encouraged extremism and militancy to flourish for its own goals.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    I agree with most parts, and am a IK critic, however, the only issue I have with this article is that it is IK focused, who only has shared his delusions with us recently, when in truth, Pak stakeholders from the army to every other political (and religious) party has played a role in allowing, if not encouraging such narratives and conspiracies to flourish and excusing them as if they’re held hostage by IK’s views alone is not fair, including the labelling of others as traitors, which has been around for a long time in our religious nationalist discourse.

    We didn’t choose the pragmatic approach, when clearly the state continued the double games policy as seen with housing the Haqqanis. Despite Musharraf’s best efforts to stamp out local extremism, we continued with our detrimental regional policies. We still lacked accountability of past misdeeds. Mush would not delve into the root causes. This is highlighted by Mush himself about Daniel Pearl’s killer, Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was indeed a former super patriot Pak asset cultivated by his own military colleague, and retrieved after the Indian Airways hi-jacking, but opted for a dishonest conspiracy to explain his existence (MI-6 agent that went rogue) in his own auto-biography. And now folks suspect he was covering up for OBL too. This is just as dangerous and delusional and unfortunately rampant in practice.Recommend

  • Sarahh

    A superfluous analysis camoflauged in a judgemental spin that twists the past history and the present to further confuse Pakistanis and sell the Western Narrative to them.

    No surprise, why the author not just failed to propose a solution but also failed to analyse the drone strike which actually gave birth to TTP, the positive correlation between drone strikes and suicide attacks/bomb blasts, the Eurasian policies of foreign powers, popular support for the GWOT in Pakistan, etc.

    Will the author, at least, show an intellectual honesty to truthfully state whether the people of Pakistan were led into this WOT on the basis of lies and deceit or on the basis of their informed consent? Was/is it a “just war” to war on lying to the Pakistani people for the past 10 years? If it’s your own war then why won’t you fight it with your own money, own resources and own policies???Recommend

  • Tahir

    Can you provide us some data about suicide attacks in Pak before 2001 when american launched WOT? You did provide any data. The fact is there have been around 220 suicide attacks from 2001-2013 and there have been 4 attacks from 1947-2001 and just one of them was a suicide attacks. And moreover, the suicide attacks increased after 2006 when drone attacks started taking place besides military operations in FATA.
    There was no group called TTP back then before 2007. When was the first time you heard Hakeem Ullah Masood’s name? People like Adnan Rasheed who fled Bannu Jail had not joined Talibans back then.
    Digg the matter before you form an opinion of things.
    I am as against Talibans as you are but military actions, drone attacks and america aid is just producing more Talibans. Any my hatred for Talibans is not driving me nuts and that’s the difference.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    4 bomb attacks only in Pak from ’47 to 2001?! Are you kidding?! How numb and oblivious can one be about the history of bombings and bloodshed in Pak pre-2001?!

    Here’s a Wikipedia link of the year 2000 ALONE, which has more than 4 acts of terrorism..in the month of April! Note all the Pak flags in each month Jan 2000-Dec 2000 and the blast incidents.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_2000

    Why are you ignoring all types of terrorism that Pak has been victim of, as well as involved in? Terrorism is not restricted to suicide bombing, which only became fashionable in Pak after the Iraq invasion (for which the US abandoned Afghanistan, again) and Sunni insurgents’ deadly use of it, not simply because of drones.

    There have been many acts of terrorism in Pak pre-2007 and pre-2001, which involved gun massacres, grenade attacks, and yes, bomb blasts, which I remember, if you were old enough, vividly from the 90’s alone, and not just restricted to Pak, but across its borders as well, which included a Pak connection even to Al Qaeda globally, which was the reason of the 2001 debacle in the first place. TTP got organized in 2007 and included 13 different groups already formed earlier.

    Why are you making excuses for such historic violence and the existence of all the groups I had labelled above and linked to, some of whom are under the TTP brand? This highlights how Pak was always a fertile ground to all types of extremists and allowed it to fester. Even Adnan Rasheed, who made his move in 2003, was mentored and inspired by a top Al Qaeda operative since the 90’s, highlighting how deep the rot is. Hakimullah Mehsud was an available spokesman for the Pak Taliban since 2004 and had prior militant history in Afghanistan as well.

    You are right to criticize our military operations, in the sense that it has been half-hearted while we played double games favouring some militants, continuing old militant proxy policies, on top of not regulating madrassas, fertilizer factories etc. The fact that Laal Masjid, an open militant factory, was not moved against earlier and took 18 months to resolve explains a lot.

    Instead of asking me to dig into the matter, which has affected me greatly since the 90’s while Pak’s majority continues being in denial even today, please apply some critical thinking and introspect honestly. You could have very easily looked up past terrorist violence in Pakistan and the history of TTP, or the extremist movements within Pakistan which has existed since decades, perhaps even before the 80’s G-B state sponsored sectarian massacre.

    The nuttery is these excuses, not knowing our history drenched in blood (4 attacks from ’47 to 2001?! Incredible!), complacency and never having taken all sorts of extremist violence seriously until now (actually, still not serious) and appeasement for the Taliban, looking at it from a simplistic viewpoint of it only being it about Amrika, when this extremist crisis of our own making was always about to blow up in our faces and still we fail to move or counter.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-188128-Narratives-on-the-TTP
    (highlights infiltration of extremist militants in Swat and FATA in late 90’s)

    http://new-pakistan.com/2011/10/07/no-terrorism-in-pakistan-before-2001-think-again/
    (note 3 bomb blasts in the 90’s, including a suicide attack)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tehrik-i-Taliban_Pakistan#Roots_and_development

    (starts from 2002)Recommend

  • M.Ashraf Choudhry

    Commendable and evidently sensible analysis but this is an intriguing and such a deep rooted far fetched international conspiracy that the mediums would be shocked when it will unfold itself to the shock of the greatest analysts of the modern time except behind the plot intriguers.May Allah guide our leaders and help us to smash this plot.Recommend