In the lifespan of any nation, there will be wars. Granted most of those wars are against external forces that seek to accomplish some “international agenda,” clouded in mantras like nation building or ending tyranny. Sometimes, the wars are against internal forces that tear nations apart. For the last 10 years, Pakistan has been ravaged by this war – a battle for the identity and ideology of a nation. For Pakistan, the battle is one that will divide an already splintered citizenry into factions that will make it next to impossible to bring the nation back together again.
Today, the Government of Pakistan stands against the interests of the people of this nation and the Constitution that it claims to serve with the initiation of negotiations with a terrorist group that has murdered 70,000 Pakistanis in cold-blood. While I understand that many will call me a war-monger for my position, it’s a moniker that I have become quite accustomed to over the past ten years. As brave Pakistanis and their armed forces have stood against this invading force, many within the country, including television anchors, journalists and political groups, have argued vehemently for declaring ceasefires and negotiating with those who murder our own. In turn, the terrorists have used this double position to further cause heavy casualties to the nation and its citizenry.
The clearest example of this fight came on 9/11 when the United States was attacked. The nation did not stand on two sides of the line. The government and media banded together to draft one position – hunt them down and kill them, wherever they are. Yes, it led to two questionable wars because the rush to judgment was quicker than the logic to find the truth, but the nation stood together then and even today – whoever attacks our citizens will be hunted down and killed. Pakistan doesn’t take that stand.
In Pakistan, we struggle with two problems. The first is that we don’t know how to defend ourselves from attack. Whether it be personal attacks on our character, verbal attacks on our leaders or physical attacks on the nation, Pakistanis are unable to form logical arguments for why someone is wrong. We get emotional, rather than logical. When emotions cloud the thought process, it is impossible to be taken seriously. Over the last decade, I have listened as people have blamed the Pakistan Army, the government and a hidden hand while refusing to admit that they themselves are part of the problem.
The Pakistan Army has seen great success when it has been allowed to do what it knows best – fight – against the terrorists. From Tirah to Swat, we have seen the Army clear large sections of our soil of these miscreants, but that isn’t enough for the people who sit at home watching comfortably on the televisions. Recently, the Army launched another offensive against the terrorist camps in Wana and Waziristan, only to have the government of the day stop it to pursue a policy of negotiation with those who indiscriminately kill innocent people every day. As a matter of fact, on the day that the negotiations were to start, the TTP detonated two bombs in Peshawar and then quickly said that it was a faction of their group that did it. This has become commonplace for the terrorist group, claim responsibility for some and blame others when it fits their agenda. I don’t buy it and you would be hard pressed to find other intelligent Pakistanis that do either.
While the government has failed in providing anything for the citizens of Pakistan, it is nothing new for any of us who live here. Each successive government promises to make the heavens rain money, jobs and electricity, but once in office, the promises disappear and the reality of corruption takes its place. But, as I said, this is nothing new to anyone who calls themselves a Pakistani. We have seen this with every government that has occupied that National Assembly and Prime Minister’s Secretariat. So the question is – does this justify what the TTP is doing to the nation? Of course not! It does, however, play on the emotional string that controls Pakistanis, which is what matters to them.
I take you backwards to a recent incident in our nation’s capital. A mosque that supports al-Qaeda with money, munitions and fighters decided to take a section of the city hostage. They kidnapped police officers and innocent civilians, they passed judgments and punished them, and they burned down shops that they felt were an offense to the brand of Islam they followed. For six months, the entire nation demanded action against these terrorists. The citizens of Islamabad begged for the Army to be called in to free them of the terror they felt when they left their homes. The media abused government representatives on nightly television programs over the inaction. Then, with one bullet, the terrorist became the innocent party and the Army became the villain. Et tu, Brutus?
Lastly, the hidden hand, which has become Pakistani politics ace in the hole when unable to explain why things happen in the country, is my favorite. Sometimes, it’s India. Many times, it’s the US. But it’s never the Pakistanis that occupy the corridors of power themselves, nor the Pakistanis that violate every law because they can buy their way out of any situation. No, no, they can’t be the hidden hand. It has to be a foreign power. Am I saying that these countries don’t play their little games inside our borders? Not at all. What I am saying is that when you create the situations for them to exploit, don’t be surprised when they do.
Can we all wake up to reality? The problems that we have as a nation are our own fault.
- We screamed for the rule of law, but allowed a party that rigged every vote in the election to take power.
- We cry over the state of the economy, but continue to refuse to pay our fair share of taxes to build the nation.
- We yell that the terrorists are taking over the country, but sit down across a table with them to negotiate on their terms.
- We pound the table saying the Constitution is supreme, but violate it every day by allowing negotiations with a group that does not accept it at all, while holding another accountable for violating it.
- We present ourselves as Muslims, but cannot read a surah correctly in government meetings, much less keep to any teachings of the Holy Quran that don’t suit our personal benefit.
- We spending thousands sending our children to private schools, and they still can’t form an intelligent thought.
When will we learn to accept that Pakistan is not a nation, but a group of people doing what feels good to them? When will we accept that for Pakistan to be free, fair and just, we need to start by putting those qualities in ourselves?
One more thing – for those who say that the only way to peace is negotiation with the TTP. Negotiation from a position of weakness leads to failure. Cowering before the oppressor leads to more oppression. And believing that if someone stops doing something, everything thing will get better is just plain old stupidity. Maybe if you read something other than your Facebook and twitter feeds, you would learn that every nation that has followed this position has ceased to exist. Or maybe that is your plan for Pakistan? Stopping drone strikes will not end terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. During the Musharraf government, there were 9 total drone strikes – how many suicide attacks were there? Hundreds. Stopping the Army attack will not end terrorist attacks. When the KPK government negotiated with this same TTP in Swat, did they uphold their agreement? No. History is full of examples that you are too blind to see and understand. All you are doing is giving them a chance to re-group, re-arm and come at you harder and more viciously.
Today, Pakistan stands at a crossroads again. The fork we take will determine the future of the country, so make sure that you pick up the right utensil and not just another tool. Stand by the country that you love, support your troops in battle and stop caring about the terrorist position on anything.
They are oppressors. They are invaders. They are liars.
Are you one too?
I’ll be back on Friday with part II of this series, where we will discuss the reasons why Pakistan is losing the war.