PAKISTAN TODAY : Finding the Correct Path the Hard Way by Humayun Gauhar





 December 28, 2014


Finding the Correct Path the Hard Way


‘Terrorist Taliban Pakistan’ killed our future; kill them to reclaim our future  


Humayun Gauhar


We had two choices: give in to the terrorists and face the consequences or fight terrorism and face the consequences. Sensibly we opted for the latter, the correct decision, so fight it is. Else we would have been at their mercy and what passes for justice Taliban style. All men would have grown beards, women hidden behind veils and not allowed education or outside their homes, minorities forcefully converted, forced to flee or massacred. Pakistan would have gone down the drain as Afghanistan did after the Taliban conquest with our stupid help. We saw a glimpse of it after the ‘Terrorist Taliban Pakistan’ or TTP were allowed to rule Swat and impose ‘Nizam-e-Adl’ with the complicity of a supine government. They whipped a girl for leaving her house with a man who was eligible to marry her. They paraded the streets holding the chopped heads of soldiers in their hands to spread terror.


That the decision to fight terrorism of all hues countrywide flowed from the barrel of a gun as​,​too ,​the reluctant acceptance of the ‘National Anti-terrorism Plan’ by all parliamentary politicians is a no brainer, as,​too,​the prime minister’s speech announcing it. This becomes inevitable in crises when there is utter political and judicial failure and all three branches of government are confused, unable to decide, only talk.


So praise what is good and don’t worry about who did it. Don’t quibble with details. Wrinkles can be ironed out later, lacunae plugged. You cannot argue with correct decisions. That should be the  motto of every writer – ‘Proclaim Truth’ Mujhay Hai Hukm-e-Azaan La Illaha Il Allah.


Politicians, army and even the judges deserve praise for finally coming together on the right track for one objective: fighting terrorism together to its end. Well done. Better still would have been a National Government of Unity to show that they are fighting the war together. Without it I wouldn’t bet on this forced unity lasting long as each party jockeys for advantage. We are already hearing voices of dissent from pro-Taliban and pseudo democratic politicians quibbling about military courts, fearing not quite incorrectly, that they might bypass due process and be used to harass or eliminate opponents. They should recognize that it is utter judicial failure that has led to military courts. If the normal constitutional courts cannot dispense justice, someone else has to and that someone is always the most powerful institution standing.


We will support our government in this war as long as it stays the course and remains steadfast. If our leaders don’t break with their false notions of the past and waver one bit the war will be lost. Then we will oppose them tooth and nail as we do criminal governance. Revolt and military intervention will then stare politicians in the face. Else, Balkanization could be our harvest. For the record, Altaf Hussain of the MQM was the only politician persistently warning about growing ‘Talibanisation’ for years, but no one took heed. Today we reap the harvest.


Fighting a war, especially in your own country, is psyche-damaging but not fighting it and leaving enemies the run of the place damages the national psyche even more. It desensitizes you, brutalizes you and dehumanizes you until you become an animal yourself. Having exhausted all others, we were left with no option but to fight. What we need now is God’s pleasure with our endeavors. But God will only be pleased if we realize our own past mistakes that have led us to this sorry pass and repent – Taubah – never to be stupid and repeat them again.


Now that our politicians and generals have finally seen the Correct Path that humankind prays to God to show them in the first chapter of the Quran, ‘Fateha’, they must start treading on it tirelessly and doggedly and defeat the multi-headed hydra of terrorism breathing fire on us. We must also defeat the multi-sectoral implosion that we are faced with if Pakistan is to survive. Selfish ‘allies’, misguided clerics and pseudo intellectuals local and foreign will divert us along the way Satan-like, but we must learn to clearly differentiate between what is good for us and what is bad. I am concerned that our leaders’ native stupidity doesn’t get the better of them – all of them, army, politicians and judges. The best way to keep native stupidity in check is to follow the universal process and principle of decision making: know who to take good advice from, do relevant research and analysis without getting paralyzed, set up counter syndicates and before taking each step ask yourself whether it is good or bad, right or wrong and ensure that it will please God by not violating his humane injunctions.


Last week I wrote that seeing a photograph of our politicians discussing terrorism the day after the Peshawar carnage made one’s heart sink. Are these the people, I asked, who are going to lead our destiny? Seeing another photograph of them in their second conclave would have made our hearts sink lower, beholding the unbelievable sight of what a parliament of monkeys looks like, bearded, bewigged and botoxed wearing half a pound of makeup. Thus far, all we have heard from them are pious declarations of intent and hollow words and more words. Our rulers have confused words with bullets. No longer, hopefully.


Conspicuous by their presence in the conclave of political geniuses were the army and ISI chiefs, signifying that real power had quietly passed to the army. General Raheel Sharif was wearing four hats: the army chief’s, the foreign minister’s, the defence minister’s and the interior minister’s with the chief executive’s hat in his holster. No wonder there was consensus. A silent coup if ever there was one. Better this than a takeover upfront, but if our politicians continue in their usual vein of bickering, nitpicking and bellyaching busy splitting hairs, I’m afraid they will cause a direct coup yet again.Coups too are part of political evolution – unhealthy political evolution – and are certainly not good for the country or the military. They are backward evolution, not forward. They have no system of succession. Only a genuine people’s revolution that upturns an iniquitous status quo and replaces it one better is forward evolution.


Those who were gleefully awaiting a coup should think again. It is no long-term solution. Instead, it ends up leaving a mess by prolonging the life of a decrepit political system flourishing in the name of democracy and retards healthy political evolution. The system should be allowed to self-correct or die its natural death, not be made a martyr again and given longer life by putting it on life support. It is fast reaching an ignominious end anyway, so why stop it?


By murdering our children the Taliban killed our future. Terrorist students murdering genuine students exposes our decline beyond the pale, beyond Islam or any secular or spiritual creed. Instead of exterminating terrorists we have been soft on terrorism for years because we confused it with Jihad and forced our entry into the realm of national infidelity with God, humanity and all civilized norms. That other countries wearing the garb of civilization are also in the realm of national infidelity is no excuse for us to be there too. We should have realized that terrorists don’t fight any Jihad but spread discord and disharmony through wanton murder and destruction. That they would be another front in conventional war is a pipedream.


Hopefully, we have reached our tipping point and our exit from national infidelity has started. We are determined that we will not go silent into the night. We will fight them to the last man and woman. We will no longer tolerate any laxity, sympathy, apology or confusion by our authorities. If our rulers don’t shape up we will ship them out. Terrorist enablers, sympathizers and apologists should be treated as terrorists and get the same treatment, no matter how high their office. That goes for mosques, madrassas and misled mullahs too, like Lal Masjid has been turned from a House of God into a House of Satan, another Masjid al-Zirar (‘Dirar’ in Arabic) meaning Mosque of Opposition, Dissent and Harm spreading ‘Fitna’ and ‘Fasad’, discord and disharmony, to the extent that it is mentioned in the Quran. Masjid Zirar was burnt down on the orders of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).


I likened terrorism to a tree. We have to destroy it root and branch. Military operations will just cut the leaves, branches and trees. In tandem, government has to destroy its roots, which means destroying the soil of injustice in which terrorism flourishes, arming our young with the best contemporary education, bringing semi-literate mullahs of mosques and madrassas to heel and all media within proper regulation, fighting cyber terrorism on the social media and cell phones and above all, ending State Terrorism on which non-State terrorism feeds. We rightly grieve for the 132 children brutally massacred in Peshawar but we don’t have tears for the 250 children killed by state terrorism neglect in Tharparker and over 54 percent undernourished children in Balochistan and everywhere in Pakistan. We don’t give a thought for our 55 percent living under the poverty line – 110 million. State terrorism my friends is not only armed terrorism as in the Model Town massacre; more sinister is economic terrorism of loot, plunder and corruption, absence of basic needs and fundamental rights, and the lies, crass hypocrisy and insensitivity of our rulers…


More suggestions to add to the government’s 20 points:

  1. Extreme vigilance at all entry and exit points.
  2. Maximum scrutiny and security checks before issuing visas to anyone and I mean anyone and everyone just as the US has done. No more wholesale visas without check to American ‘contractors’ and assassins like Raymond Davis as happened in the ‘democratic’ Zardari era.
  3. Extreme vigilance in letting in overseas Pakistanis hiding behind our passports. Many of them have joined terrorists or are their sympathizers and funders.  
  4. Upgrade and strengthen the selection, training, emoluments and equipment of police. Weed out criminals recruited by political governments into the force. Fighting criminality and internal terrorism is police, not army, work.
  5. Afghanistan should be told to  forthwith remove India’s terrorism proliferating offices along our border – or else.
  6. Many hospitals and jails have become terrorist hubs with computers and mobile phones. End it.
  7. Repatriate all Afghans under the guise of ‘refugees’ even those carrying Pakistani passports and identify cards or born here. Afghanistan’s occupation is ending and there is no more justification for Afghans staying here like leeches.
  8. Make new provinces in tribal areas and bring them under Pakistani laws. Don’t pander to the myth of the Pukhtoon code. If they are as brave as advertised, they should prove it by fighting terrorists who are destroying them most.
  9. If we genuinely believe that we are good Muslims, let us publicly and loudly proclaim the terrorist creed as unIslamic heresy, infidelity and Kufr.
  10.    While making laws more effective, one cannot stress enough not to plan in anger because if we drop due process we will become an uncivilized police state and the terrorists would have won.
  1. What about Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed assassin of Salman Taseer Shaheed? Qadri is a hero to many, including lawyers and judges. When is he going to be brought to justice? I would rather that they first extracted the full story of who really was behind his assassination. Salman had become a pain for the Sharifs while Mumtaz Qadri was an employee of the Punjab Police under Shahbaz Sharif and had no business being in Governor Taseer’s security detail.

 It won’t take two years but one generation to end terrorism root and branch. So get on with it. There will certainly be more blowbacks so don’t lose your nerve and remain steadfast. Problem is, this army and political leadership won’t last that long. What guarantee that their successors will be as steadfast? If the terrorists hold out long enough for weak leadership to succeed, then what? So think long-term.

 I am still not done.

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