Pakistan defines terrorism by its standard

K N Pandita
Pakistan media reports that a fresh tide of terrorism runs across the country. In recent days there have been a string of attacks and bomb blasts in Islamabad, KP and Baluchistan. Pakistan civilian and military authorities bring the onus of these attacks to the doorsteps of TTP, BLA and Pashtun Protection Movement of Manzur Pishteen, and label them as terrorists.
These attacks have demoralized Pakistan government to the extent that the new Pakistan COAS, had to call a conference of corps commanders on Wednesday to discuss the situation arising out of the resurgence of “terrorism” in Pakistan.
The editorial of the Pakistan premier English daily the Dawn of 30 December said that during the conference of the corps commanders “the new army chief, along with his top generals, vowed to crack down on terrorism without any distinction.” Pakistan has been crying wolf whenever Indian troops would crack down on foreign, meaning Pakistani, terrorists clandestinely operating in Kashmir. And here the Pakistani generals decide to crack down on terrorism. This dichotomy exposes Pakistan to the hilt. And what does the editorial mean by “without any distinction”? The distinction is the brainchild of Pakistan ISI and refers to good and bad Taliban. But winding up that distinction, which India has been repeatedly saying is baseless and meaningless, is now accepted by Pakistan. On the behest of Pakistan many notable foreign newspapers would endorse the then concept of good and bad Taliban.
It is to be recollected that after the conclusion of two full scale military operations against the TTP under zarb-i-azab and radd’l fasad campaigns last year, which according to Pakistani estimates took a toll of nearly 80,000 lives, Pakistani military authorities said that they had wiped out the TTP insurgency in Waziristan. If that was true, then what was the need of signing a ceasefire agreement with the TTP, a vanquished group according to Pakistan.
Obviously, the TTP had not been vanquished; only the Pakistan army was fatigued to the extent that it wanted a respite. Recently the TTP announced that it had broken the ceasefire primarily because Pakistan had not fulfilled its promise of releasing the arrested activists of TTP, and they no more trusted the word of Pakistan authorities or army.
Soon after rescinding the ceasefire agreement, the TTP resumed guerrilla attacks on selected targets with the objective of making Pakistan government accept their demands. As such, the TTP cannot be categorized as aterrorist but a national liberation movement. The TTP is running one movement while the Government of Pakistan, the Baluch are running another movement with identical purpose and the Pakhtuns of Waziristan are running another identical movement, how come Pakistan finds three out of its four provinces up in arms fighting the Punjabi ethnic domination. These are not terrorist uprisings but national liberation movements.
Look at another falsehood to which Pakistani authorities stick.The Corps commanders assert that a spike in insurgency took shape as Pakistan was going to have a new COAS. They forget that the TTP had broken ceasefire within a month of signing it. The assertion of corpse commanders has the subtle meaning that the former COAS had compromised with the TTP who were now testing the new incumbent by escalating terrorist activities and attacks. Iran and India should have remained as silent spectators.
Gen Bajwa had adopted the same policy which the new COAS advocates and which is reflected in the editorial of the Dawn as this: “The challenge before the civilian and army leadership is to neutralise the terrorist threat before it metastasises into an uncontrollable monster, requiring another full-blown military operation to restore order.”It means that army should use brute force to annihilate the TTP. If that is the right option, Pakistan army under Gen Bajwa had already made an experiment and sent eighty thousand Pakhtuns to the other world. Did those operations succeed and will more experiments like these succeed? From what the corps commanders have come to in their recent conference is to use brute force. Remember, every action has equal and opposite reaction.
The editorial of Dawn advocates a strange logic. It suggests that Pakistan should bring pressure on Afghan Taliban to either restrain the militant from attacking Pakistan, or evict them from Afghan soil. What leverage has Pakistan so as to bring pressure on Afghan Taliban, none at all. The Afghan Taliban are at war with Pakistan over the Durand Line issue. Numerous skirmishes have taken place between the two on the border in respect of fencing the border which the Afghan Taliban had vowed would never be allowed. Many deaths have taken place.
Additionally, the TTP are the brethren of Afghan Taliban being of same ethnicity, language, religion, and history. Pakistan refuses to understand what the Afghan Taliban mean when they say that they have never recognized nor shall recognize in future the Durand Line, which divides thousands of Pakhtun families. The hindsight will show that the strength in the political movement led by late Badshah Khan lay in the same slogan. No government in Kabul – whosoever it was – accepted the Durand Line. But it is Pakistan that wants to uphold the line because it serves her political interests.
Pakistan knows that denial of Durand Line means virtual Pakhtunistan. In other words, it means perennial threat to the security of Pakistan. We know that during the cold war era Pakistan was fantasizing about strategic depth westward thinking that a weak Afghanistan would submit to its diktat. But the ground situation has altogether changed and today the Afghan Taliban are calling the shots.
The so-called nexus between the Baloch and the TTP is what the Pakistani think-tanks call as the enemies of Pakistan. It is time the policy-planners of Pakistan understand that as Pakistan’s fraternizing with China is pivoted against India so is the TTP-BLA nexus pivoted against Islamabad. It is for Islamabad to decide who are to be held responsible for the deadly mix called TTP-Baloch nexus. Both have been met a discriminatory treatment; both have been denied their rights in a general sense; both are oppressed by the Punjabi ethnic majority which they have to fight against; and both are subjected to wanton exploitation of their resources. Adversity keeps strange bedfellows.
Moreover, why should not all of such opposing elements come together in Pakistan as are dealt with similar unjust and discriminatory treatment by the rulers in Islamabad. For example, the Baluch know that handing over of their land and resource and manpower to the Chinese brings windfalls either to the Punjabi exploiters or the Chinese expansionists. Therefore, if they have taken up arms in self-defence, they have to fight both and they are doing that. The Gwadar port is almost under the blockade of the Baluch warriors and civilians, the KK Highway passing through the India-claimed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan and PoK is inherently disquieted by the sustained anti-Pak demonstrations and strikes, and finally the B&R Initiative of China has died a natural death in the aftermath of the pandemic that is consuming China not by inches but by feet and yards.
No power on earth will stop the Pakhtuns, Baloch and Sindhis from winning their independence from the Punjabi colonialists. The entire world will come to their support sooner or later depending how soon implosion overtakes Islamabad.