Posts Tagged ‘Imran Khan’

Editor’s NOTE: The following op-ed, penned by me, was originally published in The Nation on August 8, 2015. I’m pleased to cross-post the article on my blog from The Nation without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

PTIPakistan Tehreek Insaf parliamentarians have made their way back to Parliament after facing stiff resistance from Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led faction of the JUI and the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement after PTI’s claim, that General Elections 2013 had been systematically rigged and manipulated to rob the party of power, were put to rest by an inquiry commission headed by Chief Justice Nasir ul Mulk. Imran Khan and his party strongly believed that their mandate was stolen by the PML-N & Co and thus they were deprived a chance to come to power. Rejecting election results have been a familiar trend in Pakistan’s political arena since 1970. The parties which lose elections come up with rigging allegations and refuse to accept the results. Against the alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections, the PTI organised a long march last year which left Lahore on August 14 and reached the capital on August 16. The long march was followed by a sit-in which lasted over 126 days. The sit-in was called off when a group of terrorists attacked the Army Public School in Peshawar which left 150 dead including 132 schoolchildren.

During a year old campaign Imran Khan vehemently accused former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry, former caretaker CM Punjab Najam Sethi, the PML-N, the ECP and returning officers of hatching a conspiracy to bring Nawaz Sharif to power by manipulating the mandate given by the people of Pakistan. However, Imran Khan lost his case before a panel comprising of three judges of the apex court which was formed to probe General Elections 2013 against rigging allegations as an indirect result of an agreement between the PML-N and the PTI.

In one of his interviews Imran Khan alleged that a brigadier of Military Intelligence was among those who rigged the general election against the PTI. When Mr Khan was asked to name that officer, he said that he will name him in his next public speech. His followers kept on waiting for the announcement of the MI’s brigadier’s name, but that never happened. The former captain hopped to other targets instead of naming the army officer. Notwithstanding repetitive demands from different quarters, Imran Khan neither named that army officer nor he dared to reiterate that claim ever again.

BBThe 1990 general elections are the only polls in Pakistan’s electoral history which were proven to have been systematically rigged and engineered according to the verdict issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Asghar Khan case. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was the victim as ISI robbed her of power by bankrolling a group of politicians. It was proven that the military establishment created and funded a coalition known as the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) whose sole purpose was to prevent Benazir Bhutto’s PPP from winning the 1990 elections. In its short order issued on Oct 19, 2012, the apex court directed the federal government to take appropriate action under the Constitution and the law against former army chief Gen (r) Aslam Beg and former DG ISI Lt-Gen (r) Asad Durrani for their role in facilitating a group of politicians to ensure their success against the PPP in the 1990 elections. Aside from that, another former DG ISI, Lt-Gen (r) Hameed Gul openly accepted responsibility for creating IJI in an interview with renowned anchorperson Asma Shirazi back in October 2012. In his interview, Hamid Gul not only defended the creation of the IJI, but also lauded General (r) Aslam Beg’s role in creating it. In the 141-page detailed verdict authored by the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Supreme Court held that unlawful orders by superior military officers or their failure to prevent unlawful actions by their subordinates were reprehensible.

The verdict also explained why the apex court had ruled that the 1990 general elections were polluted by the dishing out of millions of rupees to a particular group of politicians just to deprive the people of being represented by the representatives elected by them. The verdict also highlighted details and names of the recipients of the money dished out by the ISI as mentioned by the then DG ISI Lt-Gen (r) Asad Durrani in his affidavit filed on July 24, 1994 and the majority of my readers would know that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s name is among them. Not only that, he benefited the most from the 1990 general elections, polluted by the military establishment, and went on to become the prime minister of the country.

Nawaz Sharif led the IJI

Nawaz Sharif led the IJI

In the name of ‘reconciliation’ the then PPP government shied away from honouring the verdict. Free and fair elections in Pakistan will remain a distant dream as long as the culprits pointed out by the Supreme Court of Pakistan are not taken to task. The politics of reconciliation has reduced the PPP to interior Sindh only and if the party doesn’t mend its ways, it may lose its fort to the policy of reconciliation being followed by the party. The key to free and fair elections in Pakistan lies in the verdict given by the apex court in the Asghar Khan case and not in the report issued by the inquiry commission headed by Chief Justice Nasir ul Mulk. If the political parties in general and PTI and PPP in particular are sincere with democracy and wish to see free and fair elections in future, they should go to the apex court to get the verdict implemented in letter and spirit the court has issued almost three years ago. Because the same verdict says that “In upholding people’s right, this court can make all necessary directions to functionaries and institutions of the state, including the Election Commission of Pakistan, and the direction to investigate and prosecute.”

The onus is on the PTI and the PPP to pave the way for free and fair elections in 2018. If they don’t act now in the right direction, it’ll be the ruling PML-N that will make the most out of their inaction, flawed policies and ill-directed strategies. And in that case it’ll be a matter of surprise to none; if the PML-N comes to power again after the next general elections.

Source: Elections and rigging

Editor’s NOTE: The following op-ed, penned by me, was published in Daily Times in three parts. The first part was published on September 30, 2013, the second part on October 1, 2013 and the last part was carried by Pakistan Daily Times on October 2, 2013. For convenience of the readers I’ve cross-posted all the three parts together, on my blog, from Daily Times without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

Pakistan is fast plunging into the hands of extremist and radical elements. The Taliban hold sway in the lawless territory of Waziristan and the tribal areas along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The situation has deteriorated so much that we now have a state-within-the-state of Pakistan: the ‘Islamic Emirate of Waziristan’, a terrorist safe haven. In a report titled, “As if Hell Fell on Me: The Human Rights Crisis in Northwest Pakistan” released in 2010, the human rights group Amnesty International claimed that nearly four million people were effectively living under the Taliban rule in the north-western tribal belt and were abandoned by the Pakistani government.

On another note, the Taliban are now infiltrating major cities of Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular. During the Supreme Court hearings last year, judges had ordered the authorities to investigate reports that as many as 8,000 Taliban members were in Pakistan’s largest city and economic epicentre. In short, the writing on the wall is very clear for all those who have not turned a blind eye to it. The Pakistani Taliban are turning out to be more and more daring, making unprecedented inroads into the sovereignty of our homeland. On the other hand, the response of our nation to the Taliban’s aggression has been disoriented, indecisive and dishonest at large, thanks to two mainstream political parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, and right-wing religio-political parties. While the aforementioned parties have acted as kind of a moderate mouthpiece for the Taliban, advocating their case in a bid to appease them, the right-wing religio-political parties portrayed the Taliban as righteous Muslims striving to establish ‘Shariah’ rule in the land of the pure. Consequently, the state of Pakistan, reeling from the relentless terrorist attacks, looks all set to bow down to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP’s) onslaught that has killed more than 49,000 Pakistanis in the last 12 years or so. From 2001 to 2008, more than 24,000 people — both civilians and military — were killed in terrorist attacks carried out by the TTP and company. The last five years turned out to be even more ruinous in terms of the loss of human lives. Since 2008, the TTP’s campaign of terror has killed well over 25,000 people and counting.

Burnt rooms inside a prison are seen following a Taliban attack in Dera Ismail Khan July 30, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS

Burnt rooms inside a prison are seen following a Taliban attack in Dera Ismail Khan July 30, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mass killings aside, the TTP has been incredibly successful in breaking jails at will and getting its operatives free without even a shred of resistance from the security forces. The Dera Ismail Khan (D I Khan) jailbreak is one of the most violent attacks in recent times. Well over 100 Taliban fighters, armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, freed 248 prisoners, including more than 49 hardcore militants belonging to the TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). Not only did the militants manage to free their accomplices, but they also killed six policemen and two civilians. The terrorists had so much of inside information that they killed six Shia inmates after segregating them from other prisoners during the three hour-long attack. One of the Shia inmates was beheaded. Many of the high-profile inmates who fled from the jail belong to the LeJ, which signifies a strong bond between the Taliban and Haq Nawaz Jhangvi’s disciples.

In a blatant show of apathy, not a single quantum of armed reinforcements was sent to the scene though the attackers remained in the jail for a good three to four hours. Military helicopters remained firmly grounded. A large caravan of the Taliban sailed through dozens of army check posts, set up on the road leading to North Waziristan from D I Khan. Those responsible for the internal and external security of Pakistan did not even move or probably they did not bother to.

In a usual turn of affairs, the TTP claimed the responsibility for the devastating attack on DI Khan Central Jail. Six days later, a senior TTP commander revealed the details of the brazen siege, adding that all the freed TTP men were in safe locations and would resume their “routine responsibilities”. According to him, a total of 125 militants took part in the operation that was launched by three groups (the Punjabi Taliban, Halqa-e-Mehsud and a group from the Mohmand Agency). While the latter two groups are unheard of, the first one sounds quite familiar.

Who are the Punjabi Taliban? The term was first coined in 2011 by the then interior minister of Pakistan, Rehman Malik, which received heavy criticism from the then Punjab chief minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif. He ‘warned’ Malik to avoid using the term because he was of the view that the term would tarnish the PML-N’s image. “It minimises our chances of coming into power because the Punjab province is being run by the PML-N,” said Sharif who was clearly more worried about the term than the growing militant threat in his province, especially southern Punjab.

That was not the only show of ‘parochial’ politics from the chief minister. This statement was equally bad as the well-known plea he made to the Taliban in March 2010. Speaking at a seminar held at the Jamia Naeemia mosque in Lahore, the Punjab chief minister had requested the Taliban to spare his province Punjab from terror attacks because his party shared a common cause with the Taliban.

The Punjabi Taliban is an umbrella organisation of different banned militant groups largely based in the southernmost region of Punjab. Major factions of the Punjabi Taliban compris members of outlawed terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), long protected and patronised by Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence establishment.

Formed in 1996 by Riaz Basra of the SSP, the LeJ today has deep links with al Qaeda and the Taliban. The group is believed to be the most violent anti-Shia group operating in Pakistan. Contrary to popular belief, in my opinion, LeJ and SSP are not two separate outfits. The two groups are two sides of the same coin although both the SSP and LeJ maintain that they are not affiliated to each other. As they say, actions speak louder than words; the SSP leadership has never criticised the LeJ because the two groups share the same agenda of turning Pakistan into a Deobandi republic. Both the groups draw their inspiration from the same man: Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. Their cadres come from the same religious seminaries. I strongly believe that the gimmick of portraying SSP and LeJ as two separate entities — ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Jhangvis — is embellished by the very same mindset that coined the theory of the Good and Bad Taliban.

SSP, now known as the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat, draws support, inspiration and reinforcement from various religio-political parties, largely the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI). A large number of religious seminaries, being run by the JUI, provide recruiting grounds for the LeJ, Jundullah, Punjabi Taliban, TTP and even al Qaeda. It may be surprising news to some of my readers that the current head of the TTP, Hakeemullah Mehsud, found his way into militancy through the SSP. Later, he was ‘elevated’ to the Taliban, yet another evidence of the increasing collaboration between Deobandi militant groups in Pakistan. JeM supported the insurgency against India in Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking at a jihad conference in October 2000, the JeM chief, Masood Azhar said, “…Now we go hand-in-hand, and Sipah-e-Sahaba stands shoulder to shoulder with Jaish-e-Muhammad in Jihad.”

Over time the Punjabi Taliban developed strong connections with the TTP, the Afghan Taliban, Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi and various other militant groups based in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. The group increasingly provided the footsloggers to the TTP and al Qaeda for terrorist acts and has played an instrumental role in attacking Shia, Sufi, Ahmadi and other civilian targets across Pakistan.

The TTP dealt an extraordinarily pernicious blow soon after the PML-N government took charge after the May 11 elections. The terrorists stormed into a base camp at the foot of Pakistan’s second-highest peak, Nanga Parbat, highlighting the growing reach of terrorists in even the remotest areas as 10 foreign mountaineers — part of an expedition — were dragged out of their camps, tied, lined up and shot dead. Among the dead, however, there was only one Pakistani, Ali Hussain, a high altitude porter but a Shia Muslim by faith, who was targeted because of his denomination. The then spokesperson for the TTP, Ehsanullah Ehsan, claimed that the group’s faction named Junood-e-Hafsa carried out the attack to avenge the killing of a Taliban commander, Waliur Rehman, who was killed in a US drone attack in North Waziristan. Junood-e-Hafsa is a new group formed by the TTP headed by Punjabi Taliban chief, Asmatullah Muawiya.

Letter to the PML-N Govt by the Punjabi Taliban

Letter to the PML-N Govt by the Punjabi Taliban

After coming into power, the PML-N government decided to abolish a five-year moratorium on capital punishment and execute hardcore terrorists on death row. The decision met with a hostile reception from the Punjabi Taliban as their chief, Muawiya, warned against hanging their men or else the executions would compel them to wage a war against the PML-N government. The statement, signed by Muawiya, urged the PML-N to bear in mind the fate of the Awami National Party (ANP). The ANP was relentlessly targeted during the May 11 election campaign. At the time the Punjabi Taliban issued this statement, the authorities were making final arrangements to execute the mastermind of the GHQ attack, Aqeel alias Dr Usman, and two other LeJ operatives in Faisalabad and Sukkur jails respectively.

The aforementioned statement was followed by another intimidating statement. The TTP threatened that it would immediately target two prominent leaders of the ruling party if Aqeel was executed on August 23, 2013, as scheduled. “Aqeel alias Dr Usman is our ‘Mujahid’ and we would never let the government hang our Mujahid,” said the statement released by a TTP spokesperson. It is pertinent to note here that at the time the five-year moratorium lapsed, the government ignored the concerns of national and international human rights groups saying that it will go ahead with executions to take on festering militancy in the country.

The threats worked and the TTP coerced the PML-N government into extending the moratorium on the death penalty. Muawiya was quick to appreciate the government’s decision to halt all state executions. The Punjabi Taliban reciprocated the PML-N’s favour by welcoming the offer made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in his maiden televised address to the nation, to hold peace talks with all the terrorist groups operating in the country. In a statement, Muawiya praised the prime minister for demonstrating “political maturity” by reiterating his offer to hold a dialogue. However, this lovey-dovey liaison of the PML-N government and the Punjabi Taliban didn’t go down well with the TTP. The terrorist organisation dismissed Muawiya for giving the aforementioned statements without prior approval from the TTP’s central leadership. Muawiya, however, refused to accept the TTP’s dismissal, claiming that the TTP had no authority to sack him. He said that the Punjabi Taliban has its own identity as well as its ‘Shura’ (executive council) to take such decisions.

The All Parties Conference (APC) held on September 9 came up with an ‘ostrich-like’ response to tackle the existential threat faced by our country today. The APC resolution — signed by all parties participating — is a pusillanimous document of national shame and unconditional surrender to the terrorists termed as ‘our own people’ in the declaration. The blood of thousands of Pakistanis was sold and it was sold for free. Terms like Taliban, TTP, terrorists were not even mentioned in the resolution, drafted with utmost care, just like in some families, a newlywed bride would not address her husband by his name. The Taliban — who do not recognise the constitution of Pakistan, our way of life, our institutions, our education system, and religious belief systems — were not only forgiven, they were accredited with the status of rightful stakeholders of Pakistan.

Four days later, a triumphant Imran Khan declared the APC successful while boasting about his 12-year-old stance on the issue finally being supported by all participants of the APC. The PTI chief declared the APC resolution a vindication of the PTI’s stance to tackle growing terrorism through unconditional dialogue. Quite interestingly, the TTP chief, Hakeemullah Mehsud, had declared the same a triumph of his group. “We have succeeded politically after we were asked to negotiate by the government,” said Mehsud in a letter he wrote to the media in April this year. Congratulations, Mr Khan. Now when we have washed our hands of our slain countrymen, who were killed in the last 12 years or so, will you please care to tell us how you will convince ‘your own people’ to refrain from killing non-Muslims and ‘lesser’ Muslims, especially Shias, in the name of Allah?

Two days later, the TTP tried to put the brakes on Mr Khan’s bragging as they killed GOC Swat Major General Sanaullah Khan, along with a lieutenant colonel and another soldier, in a roadside bomb attack. The attack on the military convoy was followed by the deadliest attack on the Christian community in Pakistan. More than 80 Christians were butchered as a pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the All Saints Church in Peshawar. A faction of the TTP, Junood-ul-Hifsa, claimed responsibility within hours of the attack. A spokesman for the group, Ahmadullah, justified the attack by arguing that their children and women too were being killed in US drone strikes and in military operations in the tribal areas.

Coffins of the victims of Hazara Town Blast

Coffins of the victims of Hazara Town Blast

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, speaking at a press conference in Peshawar, Imran Khan condemned those who “were painting the attack in a political light” but, not so surprisingly, could not condemn the Taliban who carried out the attack. He termed the attack as a conspiracy to sabotage peace talks with the Taliban. Pointing towards the conspiracy, he questioned why such attacks occurred whenever any talk of dialogue progressed. One might ask him if the attack on All Saints Church was a conspiracy to derail the dialogue process, what on earth did the attacks on Alamdaar Road, Hazara Town, Abbas Town, Parachinar market, Nanga Parbat Base Camp derail? But, of course, asking such a question will barely be a popular course of action.

Lo and behold! ‘Our own people’ have refused a ceasefire and, in addition, they have set preconditions for a dialogue with the government of Pakistan. “No one has contacted us for peace talks, not even a tribal jirga has approached us. If they (government) want to end this war, they will have to announce a ceasefire,” says a spokesperson for our own people — the TTP. The tone of the Taliban clearly suggests that they are talking from a position of strength and the government of Pakistan from a position of weakness.

Those who vehemently advocate talks with the Taliban argue that since we could not defeat them in the last eight years, therefore, we must talk to them. The argument sounds like since we failed to defeat the Taliban, therefore, we must kneel down, fold our hands, and maybe seek a congregational apology from the TTP and if we aren’t forgiven, we are dying to forgive them the blood of more than 49,000 Pakistanis without bothering about the heirs of those killed. Interestingly, the same mindset that is hell bent on forgiving the Taliban for their crimes against humanity, in the name of Allah, is not even ready to accept the existence of the TTP.

Peace deals with the TTP have repeatedly failed over the years and even when they succeeded, agreements were violated quite quickly. The state handed over Swat Valley and its surrounding areas to the Taliban in 2009. Under the peace agreement, the government agreed to impose Islamic law in the Malakand division in hopes that the Taliban would lay down their arms. But the peace deal only ended up in emboldening them. The Taliban did not keep their end of the agreement and soon entered the adjacent Buner district to impose their brand of Islam. The peace deal that did not last for more than a month collapsed after the Taliban attacked an army convoy in Swat Valley. A day before the attack, which killed one soldier, the Taliban beheaded two government officials, in ‘gross violation’ of the deal.

As the wise old adage says, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Ironically, we are being fooled for the nth time. The only way to restore peace in Pakistan is to nip the evil in the bud. Stop the funding coming from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states for different religious seminaries. A US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks revealed that financial support estimated at $ 100 million a year was making its way from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to an extremists’ network in Punjab province, which recruits children as young as eight to wage the ‘holy war’. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the activities in which these brainwashed young militants are used.

When you are in a war, time is of the essence. Whilst the state is wasting its precious time in appeasing and convincing the TTP for a dialogue, the TTP is using it to regroup, reorganise and to hit back harder. We need to tackle the Taliban and their affiliates with an iron fist. It’s better to go down fighting than to be killed like sitting ducks. As Elizabeth Kenny said, “It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.” It’s time to choose one of the two options: Pakistan or the Taliban.

Source:

VIEW : Punjabi Taliban, TTP and the APC — I — Ali Salman Alvi

VIEW : Punjabi Taliban, TTP and the APC — II — Ali Salman Alvi

VIEW: Punjabi Taliban, TTP and the APC — III —Ali Salman Alvi

Imran khan

Editor’s NOTE: The following op-ed, penned by me, was originally published in The Nation on September 29, 2013. I’m pleased to cross-post the article on my blog from The Nation without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

It’s a matter of great surprise and national shame that the Pakistani Taliban, till date, do not have a central office of their own in the land of the pure. What a crying shame that the outfit from Pakistan that consistently made headlines in national and international media is deprived of an official, but easily approachable, headquarters in its own country. No prizes for guessing the only level-headed, incredibly knowledgeable and clear-sighted leader, in a country where all other leaders can’t see beyond the end of their nose. Yes, none other than PTI chairman Imran Khan realized the need for an office for the Taliban at a time when the Christian community had just buried their dead from the double suicide attack on the historic All Saints Church in Peshawar that killed 85 worshippers and injured more than 100.

Talking to the media after visiting injured persons of the Peshawar church bombing at the Lady Reading Hospital, Imran Khan called on the federal government to allow the Pakistani Taliban to open an office in Pakistan similar to the Afghan Taliban office in Qatar to facilitate the dialogue process if it was serious about holding peace talks with them. It is tough to determine if the attempt of putting a “balm” on the wounds of the Christian community was successful or not, but one thing is for sure; You cannot even think to doubt the noble intentions of his holiness Imran Khan and if you are bent on doing so, do it at your own risk. God forbid if a fake liberal mutters the saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions make sure you don’t let him/her go without giving him/her what he/she deserves.

Unfortunately, the short-sighted and myopic civil society couldn’t see what the farsighted Taliban Khan, err, I mean Kaptan Khan did. As a matter of fact all genuine liberals are a part of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf and, apart from Asad Umar, none of them has voiced concerns over Mr. Khan’s statement. Only fake liberals are censuring the Great Khan on social media for his demand for an office for the Taliban. But there is nothing to worry about those foul-mouthed liberals because Khan’s social media warriors will take good care of them. We, the Pakistanis, must not act like thankless goofs and should thank our lucky stars that we now have a leader whose message of change is resonating across the length and breadth of Pakistan.

Though yours truly can’t match the sagacity of Imran Khan but I strongly feel that the TTP’s office in Pakistan will turn out to be a step in the “right” direction and it will usher a new era of peace and prosperity in the region. Not only will it help curtail the increasing unemployment –  by creating new job opportunities –  but also reduce the growing population which leads to unemployment, by blasting a few. Killing two birds with one stone, something an ordinary man would have not even thought about!

Every time a drone strike takes place on Pakistani soil, the Taliban officials, not terrorists, will scare the hell out of Americans by carrying out a suicide bombing on the same soil. Telephone calls claiming responsibility for an attack will now be a thing of the past. In order to treat all media outlets equally, the Taliban spokesman will now be holding a press briefing at the organization’s office after every attack and thus no news channel would be able to take the credit of breaking the news first. Lack of breaking news would inevitably lead to lesser sensation.

In addition, the Taliban’s office would be needing security due to the fears of a retaliatory attack by the survivors of a suicide bombing on the holy office. The same office can also be hit by a US drone. Imran Khan might have to ask the federal government to deploy paramilitary/military personnel to save the sacred office from a ground attack. And to protect the office from a possible drone strike, Imran Khan could call on the federal government to order the Air Chief to strike down the drones flying anywhere near the sacred office. After all it’s the responsibility of the state of Pakistan to safeguard its own people from any aggression, be it internal or external.

In addition, to make the environment more conducive for the proposed peace talks, Imran Khan should appeal the TTP to get registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan so that certain political parties can do something else than acting as their political front.

In a bid to remove mystifications about the Taliban, Imran Khan might have to call on the PEMRA to issue a license to the TTP to operate its own television channel given that the Taliban are righteous and pious Muslims and they might not want to watch channels airing news bulletins featuring female anchorpersons without any scarf. Moreover, such a channel will help in conveying the Taliban’s view point to the masses without any depravity. The Taliban will also be allowed to air videos of different suicide bombings, beheading ceremonies and similar stuff.

A Taliban office in the country will also help in creating a soft image of Pakistan in the international community that was badly distorted by, a CIA agent, Malala Yousafzai who made her way to London, after surviving a staged attack in Swat, to malign the angelic Taliban.

The TTP office will also keep a record of its members operating in and out of Pakistan since a few of them have been exported to Syria to fight alongside the rebel forces to oust Bashar al-Assad’s from power. In case a branch office is needed in Syria, Imran Khan can always call on the federal government again to help them in setting up one. After all they are “our own people” and to facilitate them is our first and foremost duty.

So what if the TTP set pre-conditions for the peace talks, killed a Major General, Lieutenant The Nation, Ali Salman AlviColonel, other army personnel and 85 Christians in the immediate aftermath of the APC, held on September 9, which set new national record of appeasing “our own people”. All in all, Imran Khan’s demand of a TTP office in Pakistan speaks volumes about his unparalleled prudence and consummate level-headedness. Haters will hate but Khan will scintillate. Keep it up Mr. Khan.

Source: Keep it up Mr Khan

Editor’s NOTE: The following op-ed, penned by me, was published in Daily Times on November 17, 2012. I’m pleased to cross-post the article on my blog from Daily Times without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

Fanaticism has been kept in the mainstream by those for whom it is a game to extract money out of organisations after rampant looting and killing. People then think of only an exodus as a means of survival, hence leaving behind the land to be ruled by those who have a singular aim to grab power by means of terrorism. Swat, with high mountains, green meadows and clear lakes, once known as the Switzerland of the region, where winter sports and tourism were a normal trend, is now marred by the chilling account of the barbarous and bloodied persecution of those who tried to defy the Taliban. Vested interests of ‘some’ with terrorism have destroyed the region as a business hub, which in turn has cracked the backbone of the economy of Pakistan and has left the state with no tourism. Hundreds of the inhabitants of Swat region were massacred by the Taliban and their misery only came to an end when the government launched a major military operation in 2009, despite facing opposition from the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and religious parties.

The fanatical bent of the human mind always opposes any kind of progressive, scientific education since it will inevitably make the succeeding generations question their diktat, which will consequently topple their kingdom of regressive dogmatism complemented by terror logistics. Religion galvanises people, but misinterpreted religious sermons galvanises the ignorant and uneducated. These people form the vote/power bank of such voices, because due to ignorance their sermons sell; therefore, education is only opposed by fanatics. More than 800 school buildings have been blown up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA to date and the campaign is not over yet. The silence of religious parties in Pakistan over this destruction is quite meaningful, which clandestinely endorses the militants’ argument that educating girls is in breach of the teachings of Islam. Islam does not ask its followers to keep girls uneducated. In fact, it holds education for girls as obligatory as for boys. Malala Yousafzai, who stood for the principles of peace and education, thus jeopardising the hegemony of these thugs, was an obstacle in their greater plan of destabilising Pakistan further.

Malala spoke about education and a secular Pakistan, which is the biggest thorn in the side of their business agenda of terrorism, and that is the reason why she was added to a Taliban hit list in 2011 and, subsequently, attacked in 2012. After an abhorrent campaign run by Islamist goons on social media, casting all sorts of doubts on the assassination attempt on Malala, their full of hot air leader, Fazlur Rehman stamped his approval upon the lamest of conspiracy theories about the 15-year-old who is undergoing medical treatment after surviving miraculously in the attack.

Almost four weeks after Malala and her two friends, Shazia and Kainat, came under attack by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in her hometown, Swat, the eponymous chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Fazlur Rehman termed the assassination attempt a drama. Addressing the ‘Islam Zindabad Conference’ in Karak, he said, “Pictures shown on social media have shown the whole character as suspicious because there was no sign of injury after the bandage on her head was removed.” This meant that Malala had not received any injury in her head since there was no sign of one after the bandage on her head was removed.

A couple of weeks ago, in the op-ed pages of a national English daily, a similar article with the title, “Shame on You, Mr Khan” was published in which the writer had bashed the chief of the PTI, Imran Khan, for being a ‘coward’ on account of his statement he gave in a television programme. While condemning the attack on Malala, Khan had said that his party had local affiliates and supporters in the restive areas of Pakistan, of the likes of Waziristan and FATA, and thus he could not give statements against the Taliban because that would make them [supporters] the Taliban’s targets. The column went viral on the social media, so much so that Hamid Mir invited Khan to his show and grilled him about that column and throughout the programme, he kept repeating the title of the aforementioned show. While I agree that Khan’s statement was not a brave one, I am taken aback to see that none of the writers have penned down any criticism on Fazlur Rehman for his despicable statement. Or maybe Mir should invite the maulana to his programme only to fire a barrage of ‘Shame on you, Fazlur Rehman’ for the sake of fairness, if not for anything else. The whole world of some of the writers would have come crashing down around them had such a statement, similar to Rehman’s, come from Imran Khan. Just because Khan listens to all the criticism directed towards him should not become license for his unabated bashing.

I am not surprised to see a group of politically ignorant people celebrating ‘Aafia Day’ on November 10 as a rebuttal of the Malala Day declared by the UN on the same day. Trying to compare apples and oranges, Maulana Fazlur Rehman went on to compare the case of Malala with the case of Aafia Siddiqui in an attempt to cash in on the sentiment of the public associated with Islam, since using religion and anti-Americanism always works wonders in Pakistan, bearing in mind people’s sentiments. Maulana Rehman said, “While everyone was outraged over the attack on Malala Yousufzai, there was silence on the issue of Aafia Siddiqui.” Malala became a victim of a fanatic’s bullet, which wanted to silence her struggle for awareness, whereas Aafia Siddiqui wanted to make many victims.

Let me make it very clear that the two cases cannot and should not be compared. Aafia Siddiqui, 40, was convicted by a US court for attempted murder, armed assault and other charges; Malala Yousafzai, 15, on the other hand, stood against extremism and terrorism, vowing for peace and girls’ education in a time when the Taliban were bombing schools in Swat to deter girls from going to school. During the five years of her disappearance, Declan Walsh, who was The Guardian’s correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan from 2004 to 2011, reported that Aafia visited her uncle, Shamsul Hasan Farooqi, and pleaded with him to smuggle her into Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban, insisting that she would be safe with them. Aafia’s first husband, Amjad Mohammed Khan, an anaesthesiologist, has already disclosed that after the September 11 attacks, Aafia pressed him to go on jihad to Afghanistan and work as a medic for the Mujahideen.

Malala epitomises bravery and peace in the face of terror and barbarity. Her courage has won the hearts of hundreds and thousands of people across the globe. As the government of Pakistan plans to honour Malala by opening special schools in her name for poor children, the world calls for a Nobel Peace Prize for the 15-year-old. She, now, has the support of more than 124,000 people who have signed an online petition asking the Nobel Foundation to nominate her for the prestigious award. Forlornly, there was no Malala Yousafzai moment in Pakistan. The attack on Malala could have been a turning point in the war of our survival but it was not to be. Conspiracy theories got the better of the bitter reality, commandeering vulnerable minds. Here’s hoping Malala would recover soon and resume the fight against bigotry, extremism and oppression. Here’s hoping that Kainat and Shazia pursue education with a rejuvenated resolve. It is high time we stood for all the Malalas who are deprived of education and basic human rights to strive for a better, progressive and tolerant Pakistan.

Source: VIEW : Guillotine of intolerance and guile of hypocrisy — Ali Salman Alvi