Why are Pakistani authorities silent over Mullah Mansoor’s death?

Published: May 24, 2016
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Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Raheel Sharif, Islamabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

The second amir of the Taliban, Mullah Mansoor, has been dispatched to the hereafter by a hellfire missile fired from a Reaper drone or so claim the Americans. Others can neither confirm nor deny. Our own government is going through the same old motions. Denial.

Conveniently a passport has been found unscathed. It is amazing how sturdy and fantastically fire-proof the material Pakistani passports are made of. If nothing else, this shows true ingenuity. Our passport might be considered the second or third worst passport in the world, but at least it can survive a drone attack. Imagine the potential. Surely the world must be lining up to get us to share this invincible lamination technology.

But I digress.

The issue before us is that the feared leader of the Taliban, a madrassah educated “military genius” who bettered the Afghan forces as Kunduz (without any outside help if our people in high places are to be believed though I do not believe them) has, according to Barack Obama, been squatted like a fly well inside Pakistani territory.

What do we have in response? Silence from the interior minister.  Silence from the ISPR. Silence from the Air Force.

As a Pakistani, I am flabbergasted. There are just too many questions that need to be answered here. Why are the Afghan Taliban still operating from our lands? Why did Mullah Omar die in a hospital in Karachi? What is our position vis-a-vis the Afghan government in Kabul? Are the Afghan Taliban our allies or our foes? Who decides who our allies and foes are in a conflict?

These were pertinent questions even before Mullah Mansoor’s demise. After all if we recognise, as we are bound by international law to recognise, the Afghan government as a legitimate government, we cannot morally or legally support an insurgency on its soil against it. The usual response is that Afghan government also supports the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). That is true but that is not enough of an excuse to justify our actions.

Truth be told, the Afghan government, unable to reconcile itself with the international border, has tried to destabilise Pakistan’s frontier since 1947, starting with their backing of the Faqir of Ipi, but their efforts did not bear fruit until we created a fertile ground for them (80s onwards) with the Afghan jihad. To quote Hillary Clinton, you cannot keep poisonous snakes in your backyard and only expect them to bite others. The policy of using “Jangju Musalmans” that our deep state became enamoured with, is what is at the root of the problem. It is a failed policy, a bad strategy and a bad debt. Let us cut our losses now. But I will come to that in a minute.

Here is another reason why we should reconsider this policy. President Obama has entered a very dangerous phase of his presidency. It is that time when a two term American president looks over his balance sheet and becomes desperate to do something spectacular. Consequently, in the next seven months, expect the Americans to go after any target that moves. Americans have made their intentions very clear. They will go after any threat emanating from our soil.

Violation of our sovereignty? Well you have seen nothing yet.

Even Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif knows that fact even as he cries foul. So what does that mean for the presumptive Taliban leader i.e. Siraj Haqqani. He is a marked man, unless he can deliver the goods. Those goods are an end to violence and a return to peace talks.

Our Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, is set to retire in a few months. The international media is already pouring scorn on Pakistan and its military for their “duplicity” after the attack on Mullah Mansoor. Surely General Sharif does not want a barrage of drone attacks raining down on Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in the last few months of his tenure. It is not good for his knight in shining armour image, let alone his legacy.

After his many remarkable successes as the COAS, does he want to end his tenure looking toothless while the Americans made a mockery of our sovereignty under his watch? I believe he is a good and honourable man who understands what is at stake. Surely he has the coup d’œil of a great military commander. The terrain is vexatious and perilous. Too many enemies are counting on him to fail. Does he know, as any good general should know, when to retreat? History will judge him on how he reacts in the coming months. History will judge Pakistan too on the basis of what he does next.

So how do we cut our losses?

We tell the Afghan Taliban that they had a good run but now it is time to face the truth. There is no way that they will ever take over Kabul. The world will never allow a repeat of the horrors that they unleashed during their rule between 1996 and 2001. Medieval tribalism has no place in the modern world.

However, in order to tell the Afghan Taliban that, we have to first prevail over ossified minds in our own midst, in our military and yes in the feared ISI, that the world will no longer accept backers of Taliban as legitimate brokers of peace. This is easier said than done. Many of our finest military minds are just too invested in strategic arithmetic from two decades ago. They are unable to appreciate the bigger picture today which is of economics and globalisation.

And then there is the most important question of them all.

Why must we use our excellent geostrategic location as an irritant to the world? Pakistanis have a legitimate role in the world’s progress. India and Afghanistan want to trade. We ought to get a piece of that pie. India and Iran want to trade. We should be the beneficiaries of that equation. Therein lies our true potential, a veritable trade hub where South Asia meets Middle East and Central Asia.

All this could be our future, if only we were to give up playing games of the past. Let us tell the world that Pakistani territory will not be used for any insurgency anymore. Let us make sure that there are no longer any Shuras convened in Quetta. No more will we allow medieval warriors to plot their designs of destruction on our soil. This is what I want as a Pakistani.

Yasser Latif Hamdani

Yasser Latif Hamdani

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Mr Jinnah: Myth and Reality. He tweets as @theRealYLH (twitter.com/therealylh)

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

  • sk

    realistic article from a true Pakistani…. hats off to him….Recommend

  • Bigcohones

    Holy Ravioli! Did some one spike my paratha, or is there finally an article that makes sense? Could you make this mandatory reading for all budding Napoleons at the PMA?Recommend

  • Kushal

    Guess what the Americans are saying now?
    .
    .
    .
    .
    “Thank you Raheel Sharif.”Recommend

  • Shetty

    A Grant Salute to the writer of this article from an Indian..Happy to see such sensible write up.Recommend

  • oats

    You really need to ask yourself why Pakistan has to be playing any games at all. You answered this question yourself when you remarked that Afghanistan has been up to its own tricks from 1947 when it refused to recognize Pakistan and when an Afghan national killed the first Pakistani Prime Minister Liquat Khan. Since then successive Afghan regimes have taken dictation from India and allowed Afghanistan to be a base for Indian intelligence to mount attacks on Pakistan. The former US Defense Secretary and countless others in the US government all know that there is a game of influence being played which is why he openly commented on India using Afghanistan as a base. Indian officers such as Yadav are a reality that surprises no one, least of all Washington. Afghans have beening keeping poisonous snakes for over 60 years which is why Afghanistan is in the state it is now and its people begging as refugees all over the world. Pakistan cannot afford to open its borders to Kabil or New Dehli until they stop their games of the last 6 decades. The way to stop any Afghan Shura on Pak soil is to return all Afghan refugees and build a big barrier to keep out any unwanted movement either way across the border. I think most Pakistanis don’t want anything to do with the quagmire that is Afghanistan but reality is that Indians are not stopping any time soon.Recommend

  • Rohan

    If you start condemning USA , it won’t provide any aid as it is they are pissed of at Pakistan for supporting a zoo of terroristsRecommend

  • rtnguy

    Lol pity these pakistanis. They do not know anything about their armyRecommend

  • Zeeshan

    “These were pertinent questions even before Mullah Mansoor’s demise. After all if we recognise, as we are bound by international law to recognise, the Afghan government as a legitimate government, we cannot morally or legally support an insurgency on its soil against it. ”

    International law? Which International law? Don’t we have insurgencies in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan all armed and supported by the Americans? The same Americans who invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to overthrow Afghan Taliban and restore their puppet there should not be quoting International law. You too shouldn’t be quoting International law.

    The Afghan government of today is part of the “medieval tribalism” you were trying to condemn. Just allowing “modern ballot box” to install them in Kabul does not mean their “medieval tribalism” has disappeared.

    Why were the Americans wanting to kill a leader of the Afghan Taliban? Does the Afghan Taliban stand in between the final solutions of Americans and allowing Americans to run back to their country with some sort of chest-thumping victories? Do they forget that Afghan Taliban can easily substitute their leaders?

    The Americans have been defeated in Afghanistan. They have nothing else to show to their country men. They strongly believed that the Afghan Taliban could only be defeated by killing its leaders. This is a failed policy. They would like the ISI and Pakistan to submit to their policies in Afghanistan. If the Americans could support medieval tribalism and terrorists in Syria, I am not sure why they are so irked by ISI and Pakistan? If Pakistan is playing double game, what do you think the Americans are doing?

    Instead of turning Pakistan and ISI into scapegoats, it would be fitting for Americans to declare their defeats and return home by holding white flags. Next should be the Indians.Recommend

  • rationalist

    “As a Pakistani, I am flabbergasted. There are just too many questions that need to be answered here. Why are the Afghan Taliban still operating from our lands? Why did Mullah Omar die in a hospital in Karachi?”

    The author should have added the question “why was Osama bin Laden killed right next to the military base in Abottabad”.

    The author poses good questions and does some honest soul-searching. The whole world knows that the Pakistani army sponsors, supports and nurtures global terrorists as part of its geopolitical games. That is no secret. The real question should be “will the army honchos ever give up their ingrained strategy of playing bigger than one’s weight-class geopolitical expansionist games by employing islamic terrorists as strategic assets?”

    As to the heading “Why are Pakistani authorities silent over Mullah Mansoor’s death?”, the reason might be that Mansoor was sold out to the CIA for some free dollar dole-outs. The silence just implies complicity.Recommend

  • Parvez

    You are normally more well informed……..and not as naive as you sound this time.Recommend

  • Yep

    “Siraj Haqqani. He is a marked man, unless he can deliver the goods. Those goods are an end to violence and a return to peace talks.”

    He’s been a marked man for a long time … what this latest drone attack says is that the USA may not care whether he’s hiding. If Haqqani assumes formal leadership of the Afghan Taliban then Pakistan’s game of “negotiator” is over. Haqqani has been responsible for the kidnapping/death/torture of American’s and his days are numbered.Recommend

  • Arman Zain

    Nice take on the issue but there are too many twists to the story.

    Why is Army quiet? Maybe they provided the intelligence for the drone attack, at least according to New York Times. It makes sense as Pakistan establishment was losing its control over Taliban under Mansor but will next chief of Taliban listens to Pakistan establishment? Maybe, maybe not!

    As per Pakistan sovereignty , who are we kidding! The US has violated Pakistan borders like child’s play and it seems Pakistan army really doesn’t care about it as long as they get dollars from the US. Keep in mind Pakistan Army is more than an average army. It doesn’t really exist to protect the country for people or its borders, it exists to protect the country from itself and that is a huge difference.

    As per General Raheel, he is a smart one, he knows when to take the back seat, and when to lead. He gets stuff done like Musharraf deal, pressurize NS and sit quiet and watch the US drones operate within Pakistan as long as it comes with dollars and possibly F16s.Recommend

  • Aditya Sah

    My condolences on loss of strategic assets of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Gurion

    It’s called a case of caught with hands in the cookie jarRecommend

  • Feroz

    Waking up from slumber after the horses have bolted may not be able to undo the damage, at best it can limit the fallout. Why bright ideas come to Pakistani people at post mortem time and not when needed, defies understanding. Great suggestions have been made by the author, not sure anyone is holding their breadth hoping change and good sense will prevail overnight.Recommend

  • Hamdani

    Summed up nicely. But one gross mistake that such writers make is commenting on the land of Afghanistan, the land they know nothing about.

    If by some miracle true democratic voting takes place,it is Taliban who willgain power. They have huge popular base due to various reasons, one of them being the votes they will getdue to ethnicity. Recommend

  • Greywolf

    Not really pakistanis are smart and will never vote them in. Only indians could vote for a terrorist like narendra modi not pakistanisRecommend

  • H khan

    Not true Pakistan doesnt need to sponsor any terrorists. India and its master the US have provided enough fuel to that fire for decades to come due to inept governance and policyRecommend

  • siesmann

    So Mullah Mansour wasn’t violating Pakistan’s sovereignty??!!! And thousands of his ilk.Hypocrisy is no argumentRecommend

  • siesmann

    You need to question yourself- why do India and Afghanistan and USA need to do what they do ?Pakistan itself is the base of all its and others’ ills.Proxies is no policy. India has no Ghazwa-e-Pakistan planned.If India had any territorial ambitions,it could have absorbed Bangladesh in 1971..Pakistan need to come out of delusions of persecution and self-aggrandizement , and face realities.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Else they will meet their waterloos !!Recommend

  • siesmann

    Crying wolf won’t help Pakistan.Why would USA want to stay in Afghanistan?.It is the USA’s delusion that it can install democracy in countries with 7 th century mentality, Medieval tribalism is an understatement.Recommend

  • Grace

    If author doesn’t understand that Pakistan has a porous border with Afghanistan, he needs to do reading. There are millions of Afghans who come to Pakistan for treatment, work, education or even recreation because there is so little in Afghanistan. India has been supporting state terrorism for decades in Kashmir and against Pakistan but you want Pakistan to just accept the abuse?Recommend

  • rationalist

    Sure. Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden were just taking a vacation stay in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    A Pakistani teaching the world “true democracy” is like a vegetarian telling you the taste of non veg.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Please tell us just WHO the GOOD TALIBAN are, and WHO has openly supported them for more than a dozen years?Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Hmm, according to you the people of Afghanistan can’t wait to return to the 7th century draconian rule of the Taliban! LOL!
    Please provide credible references to support your delusion that the Taliban could sweep democratic elections in Afghanistan!Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    All should note that you somehow neglected to provide examples where the author is “naive” in his writings!Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    No mention by you of Pakistani support of Good Taliban terrorists to prevent peace in Afghanistan for the last dozen years or so!Recommend

  • Arman Zain

    Yes he was and who responsibility is this to make sure foreigners don’t just walk in to Pakistan particularly from Afghanistan. Last time I check protecting Pakistan borders was job of Pakistan Army so yes they are guilty on both counts.Recommend

  • maynotmatter

    If that was true, there wouldn’t have been any resistance to their rule. Ask all women in Afghanistan if they would want Taliban to be back.Recommend

  • vasan

    Who asked for Pakistani votes. Was it Zia or Ayub or Musharaff all supporters of terrorists. And the guys you voted for are Mr 10% and Mr Panama. If u call Modiji as a terrorist, what do u call OBL, Mulla Omar and Mullah mansoor who were all protected and cared for in Pakistan, prophets?? What do u call Yahya the killer of millions of your own E PakistanisRecommend

  • siesmann

    What?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Videlicet

    What a sensible blog. Last 3 paras are golden words. Most of the world wants do to engage in trade. And Pakistan could be a Singapore if it could abandon it goals of military dominance in the region and compete with its neighbours in trade and economy.Recommend

  • rtnguy

    Lol paki votes dont count a cent. Pakistanis are ruled by their armyRecommend

  • Saad Hasan

    You have yours, we have ours. Lets no act holier than thou. Your IN/RAW chap sitting in our jail after being busted in Balochistan is a clear example of how this game is played.Recommend

  • Saad Hasan

    How so? The chap was on his back from Iran, so is it our cookie jar or that of
    Iran’s?Recommend

  • Saadi

    Lets not be so simple minded and silly. Protecting the borders is one issue, policing an entirely different one. Why is it that the Afghans won’t agree to firm border posts and checks along Pak-Afghan borders? Its obvious because they want to leak their assets into Pakistan and don’t want any hard measures. Why can’t Afghanistan settle the Durrand line issue for once and for all? This self-flagellation on your part has to be measured. Otherwise it makes no sense for Pakistan to be left holding the bag. If we need peace in the region then it requires give and take. The problem currently is that only Pakistan is expected to give and not get anything in return. All that the Americans want is some quiet. After they depart, the same mess, more amplified maybe, would await Pakistan because none of the underlying issues are resolved.Recommend

  • Saadi

    Please take a rest with the constant nonsense about “millions”. What evidence is there that we killed millions? The only ones spouting this nonsensical garbage are the Indians and some in AL in BD even though many in BD and even some investigative journalists in India have openly challenged these numbers as simple impossibility.

    At least OBL, Omar and Mansoor were against a foreign occupation and for that even UN charter has a clause which allows “citizens” of a nation to bear arms against foreign occupation. What occupation led Modi and his right wing Hindu goons (I presume your friends) to kill Muslims and minorities in their own land?Recommend

  • Saadi

    What is the reality? Your hegemony? No thanks we will take a pass. All this talk of India wanting a peaceful neighborhood and then Indians giving examples of outreach to Iran and Afghanistan as cases of your benevolence are not really applicable here. Where you need to show benevolence and magnanimity, as in the case of dealings with Pakistan and China for a lasting peace in the region, your reservoir is empty. This is the reality and why there cannot be peace unless there is a fundamental change in India’s approach. Pakistan worries about your intentions because we have the example of 1971. We were the ones who were invaded, not you!Recommend

  • Gp65

    Porpous borders had nothing to do with Mullah Mansoor being found in Pakistan. He had a Pakistani passport and NIC for 15 years. Do you believe that your wonderful ISI had not fighured out his identity in all these years? Sartaj Aziz himself has admitted that Pakistan provides safe haven and medical facility to Afghan Taliban and hence have some leverage.
    No one is so naive as to not understand that with both Mullah Omar and now Mullah Mansoor living in Pakistan, the accusation of Quetta Shura which were always denied by Pakistan have been proved.Recommend

  • Gp65

    If he was a RAW agent would he be present on his own original passport? Has Pakistan found any call transcriots where he is talking to terrorists and helping with planniing? Why has Pakistan denied consular access to him?

    2 years back TTP were being called ‘our misguided brothers’ and ‘stakeholders’ and Ch. nissar and Imran Khan were furious when Hakeemullah was droned. Today they are suddenly RAW agents,

    Today Pak Sarzameen Party leadership claims that for decades MQM has been receiving funds from RAW. If that is so, why did Parvez Musharraf give them so much power. Also the ISI head at the time when Musharraf was COAS – Ashfaq Kayani, was he unaware about MQM links with RAW?

    You are being told fake stories to make you feel that Pakistani terrorism in India and Afghanistan is justified because they are doing the same,Recommend

  • Go65

    Mullah Mansoor had a Pakistani passport and NIC. This was not an issue to do with porous borders. Do you think ISI was not aware of his identity? Also after all the sabre rattling about being atomi taaqat, why was the drone not shot down to protect Pakistani sovereignty? The reality is that Pakistani army has never won a single war where they fought a professional army. They only suceed when they are bombing their own civilians. Recommend

  • Gp65

    Even the Indian who challenged the millions said that two hundred thousand had been killed. Compare that to the 754Muslims killed in a riot (where 290 Hindus were also killed) that Pakistanis like to talk about 14 years later.Recommend

  • Gp65

    The Americans have killed OBL, Mullah Masoor. They even droned2 TTP chiefs. Please share which major TTP leader has been caught by Pakistani army?Recommend

  • vasan

    Yeah, you didnt kill millions, but a million, Does that wash away the sins, An army killing thousands, if not millions, of its own citizens (because they protested against exploitaion, fought for genuinely elected govt) makes it very holy, Is it.,
    You have no idea of diff between fighting for foreign occupation and sheltering terrorists and religious bigots like OBL and Mullah omar?. What were they doing in Abbotabad and Karachi? Why was Pakistan sheltering them. What was OBL doing in Afganistan. Was it his country. Isnt Saudi, which is where OBL is from, ruled by Saudis??
    When did Modi kill Muslims. He was completely cleared by all courts set up not by BJP but by the Congress govt which was out to get him. Wasnt the killing by goons a reaction to Godhra rail fire instigated by bigoted muslims. Read the case history before u commentRecommend

  • Saadi

    Many of the 2 million Afghan refugees also have a Pak passport and NIC so Mansoor having the same is not unprecedented nor uncommon. To you second point, Pakistan has held more than its own in every single war against a numerically superior foe. There has not been one instance of the Indian Army doing any serious damage to Pakistan on the latter’s eastern borders! You won’t find one case because Pakistan can handle India’s offense despite being outnumbered and that takes professionalism that you won’t understand because when your Army has gone up against a numerically superior foe, you have run with your tails tucked between your legs. Case in point the humiliating drubbing received by the amazingly “professional” Indian Army at the hands of a conscripted Chinese PLA in 1962. So don’t talk nonsense about fighting a “professional Army”. If yours was such a professional Army then it would not have killed 80,000 Kashmiris. Perhaps you don’t consider the Kashmiris to be your own citizens so they in your mind don’t count as “own civilians”.Recommend

  • Saadi

    Yes so may I ask you the same about the Indian Army killing thousands (80,000+) of Kashmiris? As I have stated above, perhaps you don’t consider them to be your own citizens so their killings are kosher. Before lobbing accusations at us, perhaps think over “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” or if a more desi version is required to ponder over then “iss hammam may sub hi nangay” comes to mind.

    Its rudely arrogant for you folks to come here and give us lessons on morality when your own side is guilty of the same and more. It is fine for you to peddle this propaganda to the outside world but we know you better than most on the outside. And I am not sure if that is the only view of Indians that I want to have because I have met some very decent human beings from across the border, however when I see these high and mighty judgements being passed by some then I feel obligated to call out the hypocrisy.Recommend

  • Saadi

    And lets add another 80,000 Kashmiris to the count to round off the number of civilians/and perhaps “citizens” killed at the hands of your own very forces. The sad thing is that even as you come here and judge us, every day there are Kashmiris dying at the hands of your security forces so this is not even something that we can put in the historical bucket and walk away from.Recommend

  • Gurion

    Your’s is clearly a case of illiteracy. Good luck!Recommend

  • Saad Hasan

    I guess it takes a jahil to know another. Obviously you did not get my drift. Hint: Iran is in the same boat, garnering favors from the west post lifting of sanctions and simultaneously hosting individuals inimical to the interests of the West.
    Iran-Taliban connections have long been known to exist.Recommend

  • Aditya Sah

    Going by the credibility of your ISI, I doubt you have a real RAW agent. And it’s not a secret any more to anyone worldwide how Pakistan is breeds and spreads terrorism. You have your good and bad Talibans, and we don’t have any players in the game you play.Recommend