Operation Zarb-e-Azab and the 'Azaab' of IDPs

With the onset of the long awaited cleanup operation ‘Zarb-i-Azab’ in Waziristan, people have started discussing the rationalisation and outcomes of the operation – as if already the rampant stupidity of ‘being dubious about Taliban as our outright enemies’ wasn’t enough. Even more than a decade of turmoil, the resulting loss of life and economy could not teach us enough.

Since years, these so called ‘Saviours of Islam and Muslim Ummah’ are thriving on our blood, openly massacring our people, our economy and our freedom to choose right over wrong.

Pity, that even the cleverly named, Operation ‘Zarb-e-Azab,’ could not incite enough patriotism and religious fervor to overcome our people’s unfathomable sympathy for Taliban. But still, kudos to Pakistan Army for choosing an incredible name for the operation. What better way could have been to assert that it’s them who have the ‘sword of righteousness,’ not Taliban!

Whatever the outcome of operation may be, whether we would be able to clean sweep the terrorists’ sanctuaries in the area, or we are only making these terrorist flee back to Afghanistan through a porous border in between, we would definitely have a serious problem at hand with rehabilitating the scores of Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

Around 800,000 IDPs are living in extreme poverty, hunger and disgrace in inadequate facilities of IDP camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - Families of 10-12 people having only a piece of cloth for shelter. From an ever cold weather of North Waziristan, right into the 42 degrees heat of Bannu and adjacent areas, these camps are not only hell of heat and hunger for these people, they are also place of shame and disgrace. For these tribes take extreme pride in the sanctity of their women and having their women out in open among strangers is considered an outrageous dishonor by them. Those of us who can relate to this feeling of hounour of women can understand the state of turmoil, these tribesmen must be going through, leaving their self esteem in tatters.

But it’s appalling to see, how every fraction of our society and every political party has shrugged themselves off from taking responsibility of this war and its affectees. Obnoxiously, other provinces are shunning their borders for IDPs. Pathetic, that those political parties are stead using this issue to do politics of their vested interests. 

This war is being fought for us, so we can recover our lost prosperity and economy - step out of our houses, pray in our mosques, churches and temples and choose our own values and ways of living without the fear of bearded and self-righteous fanatics exploding themselves in every nook and corner of this country.  

If this war is fought for us, we bear the responsibility of all its consequences – including the IDPs. I don’t think any of us this year is entitled to take gratification in our fasts and enjoy our Eid, without helping these IDPs. We owe them!

1920 hours
Sunday 29 June 2014

Afghanistan, militants and us

As US and NATO troops prepare for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of this year, Afghans are eagerly awaiting the results of the presidential run-off vote between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.  Pakistan still remains the target of numerous allegations by Afghanistan for allowing militants to use Pakistan’s soil to attack Afghanistan and support their sanctuaries in Pakistan.

A recent book by British journalist Carlota Gall, The Wrong Enemy, claims that our Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) supports the Afghan Taliban logistically and has a say in the Taliban’s military strategy. It also describes how ISI had a desk dedicated to looking after Osama Bin Laden.  While it is debatable, what is the source of her claims in that book; it is a common knowledge that Pakistan, in 2003–2004, was militarily supporting the Taliban. This may not be the case now, but some analysts believe that militants are certainly allowed to have sanctuaries in Pakistan, but they are not being militarily supported by ISI or the army as before.

Since last 40 years, Pakistani militants have been used to push our foreign policy agenda in India, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Our authorities always appear ambiguous or even tolerant when dealing with Islamists militants and the spread of radical ideas. 

We have more reasons to believe that this period has come to an end now and that our military and the ISI understand what a loss and negative impact this proxy war has had on the internal situation in the country. We are seeing, of course, the massive growth of Talibanisation and the impact it has had on our international image and our relations with our neighbours.

2320 hours
Friday 20 June 2014