Say NO to war in Pakhtunkhwa

By Kazim Aizaz Alam

War hysteria is at its peak. Otherwise sane people have overnight become war-mongers, thanks to ISPR propaganda. The multi-dimensional problem of Islamic militancy has, it is said, only one solution — crush the Taliban to death, show no mercy, conduct a full-scale military operation and let the people suffer meanwhile because there is ‘no alternative’ to the military option.

Is war an ‘option’ either, one may ask.

It would be a gross understatement to call it an ‘operation’ since it is a full-fledged war. Over 1.5 million people have been displaced because of heavy aerial bombing in Swat Dir and Buner. The NWFP minister for information says their number can swell to 2.5 million in a few days. This is the hugest human catastrophe our country has seen since 1971. These ‘refugees’ are the people who, until a few days back, had their meal in the peace of their homes. Now they are living off charity in IDP camps with poor toilet facilities.

Without a single exception, all the ‘internally displaced persons’ one met at a recent protest demonstration against the war on Pakhtunkhwa outside Karachi Press Club blamed the army for their woes. There is heavy aerial bombardment taking place in Malakand division in the name of military operation against the Taliban. Entire villages have been wiped off the surface of earth by missiles. Where are the Taliban? All we know is what the DG ISPR tells us every evening – 40 militants dead, 60 Taliban killed, 90 insurgents exterminated. What is ISPR’s credibility? It wants us to believe that the army killed these many Taliban in ‘aerial strikes’? What were so many militants doing in one place in the face of imminent danger from the army? What about the female casualties? Do they show us any dead bodies? Is independent media allowed in the war zone? They want us to trust the army which even failed to stop the illegal FM broadcast of Mullah Fazlullah – something even a telecom sophomore is well capable of doing?

We have forgotten the ultimate result of the ‘military operation’ of 1971. Was it not done by the Pakistan army? How can we ignore the consequences of successive military operations in Balochistan carried out in the name of national security? Did the military operation of 1992 against the MQM achieve its stated purpose or rather it made the fascist party stage a comeback with even more force?

When there is a war going on, you don’t ask for solutions to long-standing problems, you don’t talk of social reforms, you don’t speak of human rights violations — all you seek is an immediate end to war. The army is fighting an invisible enemy. Civilians are becoming its eventual victims. The current cadre of the Taliban belong to those two generations who lived in refugee camps and were uprooted by the Cold War. By bombing the whole of Pakhtun populations, we are only sowing the seeds of militancy among them. By displacing millions of Pakhtuns from their native lands into refugee camps and depriving them of their livelihood, we are ruining not only their lives but also those of their next two generations.

Instead of buying pro-war propaganda, we should ask ourselves if this aerial bombing is really going to end militancy and crush the Taliban once and for all. I am afraid that’s not going to happen. The Taliban will return, and this time round their might will be even greater. How can you expect the Pakhtuns to fight for ‘your-way-of-life’ after you have killed indiscriminately their women and children, reduced their homes to debris and ruined millions of lives of what little semblance of normalcy they earlier had in their native towns?

Military option can never be a solution. Like the Taliban of Malakand, the Taliban of Afghanistan were also retrogressive – has a military strike by the world’s most powerful army been able to contain insurgency and bring law and order there in the last eight years?

9 Replies to “Say NO to war in Pakhtunkhwa”

  1. It realy is a nice article with bitter truth.This so called war against terror has only harmed peace and Pakistan.Pakistan desperately needs to change its stance.
    The solution is obviously,isolate Taliban from common masses.Common masses were forced to join talibans when Drones and Army started killing locals more than talibans.
    we all pakistanis need to do extra ordinary favours to the people of affected areas.We must provide them good jobs so that they can feel they are as much pakistani as much people living in Islamabad.

  2. Kazim; I personally liked your thought.

    But tell me this. If military operation is not the option then what are the other options? How can you leave these “extremists” imposing their version of Islam over the world which is being aired on every international news channel.

    Technically; we are not doing this operation because we have a very severe threat from Taliban. We are doing this because the world want us to do and we can’t just ignore their demands since it is affecting our image as a modern state. Sometimes, you have to meet others demands for the sake of your country’s image.

  3. Look, SWAT and its adjacent tribal areas are those places where people have a tradition of keeping guns with them. Now, all those who carry guns even can’t be called taliban. Situation is worse and much much complicated then we think!

    The Way these so called “Pakistani taliban” operates is different from that of Afghanistan. What we now need after this operations is quickly re-establishing these areas. Poverty can lead you to any crime and a major cause for this “extremism” is the poor situation of the people living there.

  4. Let’s just hope your throat gets slashed and your sister gets wiped with her video posted all over internet. I am sure you will still say this is nothing.

  5. you that they have won a war on terrorism in Sri Lanka by launching a governmental offensive against the LTTE, i am having second thoughts about the practicality of the military offensive on part of the govt.

    Their cruel, immoral, unjustified on many accounts, actions might just yield results. Probably the govt. is not deluded, and knows what its going after.

    In any case, even if they succeed in wiping out Talibans’ militancy, at the price of numerous innocent citizens, govt’s actions will remain immoral, regardless of the consequences.

    Its a dilemma – a choice between ideal morality and an unjust stance that may yield practical results.

  6. @ M : don’t make fun of someone’s opinion and also whatever was shown on that video can also be totally fake … considering the modern technology at hand

  7. Dear M,

    I don’t want my sister to be whipped in public. But this should not, logically and morally, mean that I celebrate the homelessness of over 2.5 million people, including women, who upon their return to their homeland – provided they ever get a chance to – will find their whole villages turned into debris, rubble.

    The military operation CANNOT exorcise the Taliban. It will breed more hatred and resentment and create even more suicide bombers.

    What if you are ‘displaced’ and asked to start living in a makeshift camp in poor conditions? And the whole of Karachi becomes a war zone and your home, office, university, club, gym – everything – is aerial-bombed to nothingness? All your academic degrees, certificates, passport, books, computers get destroyed? Where will you go without a penny in your pocket?

    Since when have modernism and liberalism assumed the meaning of war and destruction of poor, innocent people?

  8. @Furhan

    Now, this is the most difficult question you have asked. You can not just separate “militiants” from “local people” that easily. Neither a full fleshed militiary operation nor a “deal” with Taliban is the answer to this. What you need, for now, is start doing a short research on the demographics and cultures of the poeple living in NWFP. You need to involve local poeple (tribal elders) so that you can somehow differentiate between the right and wrong.

    Secondly, you should also start developing these areas ASAP. Awareness among masses about right and wrong can also help. Now, amidst all of this, we can never stop militiary operation. Operation, in one way or another, has to go on for the militiants who refuses to throw arms. And alongwith, you need to “accept those” who decides to throw arms and promises to live a normal life.

    In short; both of the options (militiary action and creating awarenss)should go hand in hand.

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