Special Study For Opinion Maker

Talks or War with Taliban Part 4

COAS Zarb AzbBy Brig Asif Haroon Raja

1948 Declaration.It was honored by all the civilian and military rulers which helped in keeping the people of tribal belt in the loop. Gen Musharraf’s u turn on Afghanistan was against the national policy and in conflict with national psyche. He broke the 1948 agreement without taking the elders of FATA into confidence and not only inducted Army in Waziristan but also launched series of operations to target foreign militants and their sympathizers at the behest of USA. These actions were viewed by the tribesmen as breach of trust and betrayal and they decided to confront the State forces.

Majority is Peace Loving.Except for the minority of misled militants in FATA, majority are peace loving and loyal to Pakistan. Each tribal agency has peace lashkar fighting the Taliban. Ahmadzai Wazirs in SW and Othmanzai Wazirs in NW are the largest tribes and are pro-Pakistan.

Opportunity Seized. A window of opportunity has been opened to win back the loyalties of the misled. Should we seize it or let it go. Did we not grant general amnesty to Bengali rebels based in India, to Baloch rebels taking refuge in Afghanistan and are we not soft on Baloch separatists? Weren’t Al-Zulfiqar terrorists pardoned? Didn’t NRO condone all criminals?

Why are we so Averse to Taliban?If we are dying to befriend India and are ready to bed with untrustworthy USA, why are we so averse to Taliban who just want Shariah and have in principle accepted Pakistan’s constitution and democratic order? Have we not tolerated the terrorism of MQM since 1984, turned a blind eye to white-collar crime and loot and plunder by the elites?

Why we are so afraid of Shariah?As Muslims why are we so afraid of Shariah, particularly when western democracy and Anglo-Saxon Law have failed to deliver? Why don’t we tailor the constitution, the electoral and parliamentary system in conformity with Islamic principles?


In order to preserve arms and to keep the Army battle worthy to be able to confront the real enemy across the borders, there is a definite need to plan its de-induction from restive areas and to hand over counter terrorism responsibility to a separate counter terrorism force under a separate HQ or Interior Ministry.

In 2007, there were active plans to handover frontline security duties to FC and Frontier Constabulary duly trained by the Army and US trainers. The US and British trainers had been imparting training to FC men in Warsak and some other locations from 2005 till November 2011. Not only several FC wings were raised to make additional battalions, their scale of weapons and equipment was also enhanced to add to their firepower and to enlarge their scope to carryout defensive and offensive tasks independently. By now, the FC has been sufficiently trained and enriched with considerable experience to tackle militant threat along the border regions independently. However, except for Balochistan, so far the FC has not taken over frontline duties in northwestern regions and relieved the Army. It should be expedited.

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In the wake of our defence structure’s incapacity to effectively meet three dimensional threat faced by Pakistan, it will be worthwhile to consider three million ex-servicemen from three services and paramilitary forces currently being managed by Lt Gen Hamid Gul, President PESS and his chain of command extended up to district levels across the country as a readymade force for 2nd line defence. MO Directorate should work out a contingency plan how best this force can be utilized for the defence of Pakistan in peace and war.

It will be incorrect to assume that both external and internal intelligence shields are to be provided entirely by ISI. The ISI’s primary responsibility is to act as a first line defence against external threats. The IB, Special Police, FIA and CID all under Ministry of Interior are principally responsible for internal security but have somehow taken up a backseat and left everything to the ISI and MI. Notwithstanding the urgent need to bring greater harmony between 26 agencies and to harness all intelligence resources and bringing them under one roof of National Security Directorate for national level coordination as envisaged in new national security policy, there is a need to define areas of responsibility and scope of each agency to avoid duplication of work and self-centeredness.

The US devised an effective homeland security system which helped in thwarting 9/11 type recurrence. In 11 years, no terrorist incident has occurred in USA. Likewise, Europe has also put in place modern techniques to prevent terrorism. Other than bombings in Madrid and London, no major terror incident has taken place in any European country. Even India has improved its security system. On the contrary, Pakistan which is the worst victim of terrorism has yet to devise a credible homeland security system to foil acts of terror. Planned ‘Rapid Response Force’ at federal and provincial levels backed by efficient intelligence should be activated to deal with urban terrorism. PPO must be enforced despite opposition.

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India must not forget that religious extremist groups imbued with religious fervor and having been persecuted for over three decades cannot be convinced to do away with Jihad and join the mainstream of secular culture which has failed to deliver justice to have-nots. Kashmir will keep Jihadism alive. If India wants terrorism to end, it will have to make urgent and sincere efforts to resolve this chronic problem of Kashmir. Cosmetics of CBMs, trade and people-to-people contacts will not work.

Pakistan has remained deficient of a genuine leader for 66 years. Leaders living in regal style are out of sync with the people and have no moral authority to censure Islamists that their way of life is wrong and their demand for Shariah is illegal. The leaders will first have to become role models in their personal conduct, ensure good governance and ensure equitable social justice and only then will they be able reach out to the downtrodden and say that they have something better to offer.

Education which is confined to the privileged class must be opened to all classes and uniformity achieved. Primary education and possibly up to matriculation for those who cannot afford to send their children to schools and buy textbooks should be made free.

The unparalleled enthusiasm shown by the people in casting their votes despite the terrorist attacks must have brought a sobering effect on the hardliners within TTP’s rank and file. They must be mindful of the hard reality that after 2014, their cause to fight the security forces will become weak and recruitment may slow down and eventually dry up.

TTP must be reminded of its history of backtracking and breaking peace deals and told not to repeat its past practice. It cannot have the pudding and eat it too. Gory practice of suicide attacks and all forms of terrorism and that too against own brethren must end now.

TTP had by design not halted terror attacks after APC on September 9 so as to sit on the negotiating table from position of strength. It declared ceasefire from 01 to March 31, 2014 by design to buy time. TTP must understand that the Army’s resolve to fight terrorism is as strong as ever. It can launch another successful operation in NW if required.

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A segment of people of FATA have been bought over and turned from assets into liabilities for Pakistan. They need to be once again brought in line by winning them over and bringing them back into the mainstream through inducements and motivation.

The US should be asked to fulfill its decade old promise of establishing ROZs in FATA to uplift the backward region.

Like Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan, a similar or even better package can be offered for development of FATA on a crash program.

Besides addressing FATA’s socio-economic grievances as promised by Quaid-e-Azam, their longstanding demand of introducing Nizam-e-Adal in FATA could be given serious consideration just the way TNSM’s demand was accepted while signing peace deal in Swat in February 2009.

Deterrence should be maintained and anti-Pakistan elements abetted/aided by foreign agencies dealt with an iron hand. Foreign militant groups must be flushed out.

Army will have to be co-opted in peace talks because without its active participation, no worthwhile deal can be brokered. Current policy of talk with reconcilable and fight with irreconcilable seems fit.

The British during its 97 years rule had made Afghanistan into a buffer State to contain Communism and safeguard British Raj in India. The US now wants Pakistan to strengthen the western border to safeguard India from the gushing Islamic lava ready to burst once occupation forces depart. Those who would try to block rather than assimilate would drown in it.


The situation today represents a critical moment of our national life. Every Pakistani wants an end to the spectre of unending violence. But decade old antagonism will take time to tone down and transform into conciliation and brotherhood. All stakeholders must be taken on board and collective efforts made to restore peace. While deterrence is necessary, it must not be forgotten that force can hardly provide a permanent solution to such a multidimensional and complex conflict. The dialogue process must be focused, with a logical end in view. Indirect approach should now be replaced with direct contact between the government and the TTP Shura. Role of tribal jirga and tribal elders will prove beneficial. Socio-economic development must go hand-in-hand with dialogue process to increase space for pro-dialogue/peace militants and selective but targeted punitive action should also continue to narrow space for those unwilling to negotiate.

Concluded For Part 3 CLICK HERE