111 510 510 libonline@riphah.edu.pk Contact

Patterns of response

Counting a few major attacks claimed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) during the last three months in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata delineate three clear tactical patterns. (It must be noted that during the same time Rawalpindi, Quetta, Karachi and other parts of Pakistan were also hit).

Headlines during this period included the finding of the severed heads of a senior police officer and a soldier of the Frontier Constabulary in the Gulshanabad area of Matani in the suburbs of Peshawar.

On Oct 26, gunmen shot dead two members of an anti-Taliban peace committee in Swat valley. About a week later, a local leader of the newly formed Qaumi Watan Party and the head of an anti-Taliban amn lashkar (peace committee) was killed along with four other people in a suicide attack in Buner.

Four days later, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a police van in Peshawar’s Qissa Khawani bazaar, killing a senior police officer, two bodyguards and two civilians.

On Dec 19, militant attacks on polio workers in Charsadda, Nowshera and Peshawar (besides Karachi) left several workers, including women, dead. On Dec 22, a suicide attack in Peshawar left senior minister and leader of the Awami National Party, Bashir Ahmed Bilour, and seven others dead.

On Dec 27, hundreds of militants equipped with sophisticated weapons attacked a Levies post in Frontier Region Peshawar, killing two while

22 others were kidnapped; their bullet-ridden bodies were found on Dec 30 in the same area.

As seen in the light of this narration, the terrorists affiliated with the TTP have clear targets. The first target is the police and security forces — in their bid to take control of a state or society, insurgents and terrorists always try to defeat the morale of the security forces. Through a well-coordinated and networked chain of attacks, the TTP has succeeded in inflicting heavy losses on the security forces and the police in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The locations where the attacks took place show that the militant network is entrenched in almost all parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the rest of Pakistan, with a concentration in the suburbs of Peshawar. This means that militant organisations can strike at will. This also shows that the state of Pakistan is vulnerable and too weak to provide security to its own institutions, let alone the people.

The second target are those who are under obligation or have made a commitment to help state institutions. Attacks on the leaders of peace committees in those parts of a Khyber Pakhtunkhw where military operations were earlier successfully carried out indicate that the militant organisations wish to demonstrate that their networks cannot be defeated, no matter how much state force is used.

This also strengthens the discourse of those political parties that claim that any kind of military operation against terrorist networks backfires in all circumstances.

The third target is the people who are publicly expressive of their ideological opposition to the militant organisations. They are a target in order to prove that any voice of dissent can be silenced with impunity. Fascist movements around the globe have always attempted to silence all voices of dissent.

In response to the trajectory of terrorism, there appear to have emerged three patterns of thinking that are discernible in the public and in Pakistan’s policymaking and political circles.

Firstly, there is a pattern of thought that holds that terrorism in Pakistan appeared after the US sent its forces to Afghanistan following the events of 9/11. This way of thinking concludes that all the losses incurred by the security apparatus, the state, society and humanity inside Pakistan — and were inflicted by the TTP and other militant organisations — are morally justified and any use of force against those who unleash terror is morally unjustified. Those with this way of thinking strongly suggest dialogue and reconciliation on the terms of the militant organisations.

This would mean surrendering the constitution of Pakistan and implementing the militant code of life. This would definitely lead Pakistan towards isolation from the modern world. If someone wants a ‘khilafat’ in Afghanistan, why wouldn’t he want it in Pakistan and the whole world?

This way of thinking also ignores the fact that well before 9/11, in 1992, the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi brought Malakand division to a standstill while demanding the Sharia be implemented. The first case of someone being stoned to death took place in Orakzai Agency in 1998.

The second pattern of thinking holds that all terrorism in Pakistan is inflicted by foreign hands, meaning the US, Israel and India, and hence it is impossible to track terrorism and deal with it politically, socio-culturally and militarily. This also implies that Taliban- and Al Qaeda-affiliated organisations are fighting a war of liberation in Afghanistan and a war of revenge in Pakistan; hence, if military action against them is stopped in Pakistan, all terrorism here will vanish.

Thirdly, there is the pattern of thought that suggests that the policies of Pakistan’s security establishment over the past four decades — to use non-state actors for foreign policy objectives, the privatisation of ‘jihad’, the development of militant ideological and military infrastructure across the length and breadth of Pakistan — in addition to the country’s legal and constitutional frameworks and an education system that glorifies war and spreads hatred against other nations and religions, are together responsible for the present reign of terror in Pakistan.

This way of thinking argues that insurgencies and terrorism around the globe have been neutralised through a coordinated policy of using force to tear down the militant command structure, militant networks and supply lines besides using a political mechanism of reintegration and reconciliation, as well as coordinated economic development.

It is now up to the state and society of Pakistan to make a choice.

The writer is a political analyst.kahdimhussain@hotmail.com

Khadim Hussain, "Patterns of response," Dawn. 2013-01-07.