Sunday, 11 January 2015
PESHAWAR MASSACRE ZARB E AZB FALLOUT OR PAKISTAN'S PERPETUAL SECURITY DILEMMA, By Adfar Shah
The recent horrible massacre of 132 school children and some staff members in Peshawar by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) reflects nothing else but Pakistan’s consistent failure of tackling terror. That said, the larger question that remains is whether South Asian giants like India, China or Pakistan are seriously thinking of uprooting terrorism together or just willing to keep witnessing one horror after another without any idea of working in cooperation. Such a horrible incident reflects the use of violence in its absolute form by small numbers (terrorists) against Pakistan’s most powerful institution — the Army, as the school hit was an Army-run school — and the act was clearly in retribution to the Army’s role in the Zarb-e-Azb operation that has killed hundreds of guerrillas in North Waziristan and the ongoing operation Khyber 1 that is haunting terrorists in he KPK belt.
The fact remains that after the Zarb-e-Azb siege, the Islamist TTP was in suffering an existential and identity crisis fearing that their pseudo-identity might vanish fast from the frontiers. Therefore, by committing such a massacre they were in a way justifying their socio-political space and reassuming for themselves the role as significant stakeholders in the power conflict game in the frontier regions. Reasons that can be for why TTP butchered innocent children is obviously found in their (TTP’s) own statement that says, “We want them (army and the establishment) to feel the pain” as Zarb-e-Azb has caused pain to TTP families. Secondly, such attacks are always a success for terrorists as Pakistan thus remains a country governed by two dichotomous institutions that is the, government and the army leading to a perpetual political and policy chaos. The Army and the government have hardly reached a consensus on the methodology of tackling terror and have failed in both negotiations and the siege.
Thirdly, now even massacres have turned a sick sort of fashion since ISIS started slaughtering humans in lined in queues in Iraq, and the killing of hundreds may have turned into yet another craze among the guerrillas in Pakistan who are taking inspiration from their Middle East terrorist friends.
The other fact is that Pakistan’s security apparatus is not learning anything from its violent past where it witnessed the brutal killings of people like former PM Benazir Bhutto, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, thousands of Shia Muslims and scores of other innocent human beings at the hands of terrorists.
Unless and until Pakistan does devise a practicable and massive counter terrorism apparatus (first by shunning its support in the process of exporting terror to neighbors) with maximum public support, operations like Zarb-e-Azb or Khyber 1 will yield bitter experiences such as the recent school massacre (including threats to the children of politicians). It would not be wrong to say that there are still some Pakistani sections of society that support extremist tendencies which is thereby gradually shaping an alarming geography of terror, radicalism and chaos.
The idea of domestic war on terror in Pakistan has gradually turned to the domesticpyaar (love) of terror — and the state, despite being the worst hit, has not stopped its vicious instrument of supporting terror toward her neighbors. The lessons that should be learned from such a heavy fallout of Zarb-e-Azb are firstly, that women and children of even the opposite fighters (militants) must be safeguarded and not harassed by Army. Also the State should not give up on talks, and briskly prefer direct attacking on guerrillas for such an ideology creates an unending atmosphere of revenge — and we should remember that such people don’t even care about their own lives. The third lesson that should be learned is that the major intelligence agencies around the world should cooperate in tackling terror for the sake of humanity.
The need of the hour in Pakistan is to prefer fruitful negotiations over visionless and abrupt army operations or hasty executions. The time is ripe to join hands with the other Asian powers to develop a workable policy on tackling terror in South Asia along with supporting the global war on terror (GWOT), but not without conditions.
From the Peshawar massacre it is obvious that Pakistan as a state has also brutally failed in perception management in her vulnerable frontiers and the issues of social injustice, human rights abuse, state apathy, lack of reach out to masses, poor delivery in services, poor security apparatus, poor intelligence, poor social security measures along with poor surveillance, etc, has escalated the problem thereby improving the terror industry. The continuous drone attacks resulting in the killings of innocents day in and day out have proved the last nail in the coffin and the state of Pakistan is responsible for that constant terror against her own citizens.
Moreover, religious radicalism has not been curbed and religious scholars have hardly played any role in peace building, rather the indoctrination and lessons of radicalization have started their deadly repercussions on the larger society. When Mumtaz Qadri — a bodyguard who murdered the then Punjab governor Salaman Taseer (killed in 2011 in Islamabad) in broad daylight — the erring soldier was showered with roses, hailed and praised by a larger section of the society, and proving nothing but the growth of religious fanatics. Such drastic thinking has engulfed a lot of minds and radicalism and extremism has gradually shaped into a full grown faith with serious impact on the overall stability of Pakistan.
Obviously the beginning of seriously tackling terror should start with Pakistan itself, by uprooting the wider terror base to decrease never ending socio-political instability. Such attacks prove that Pakistan besides manufacturing terror is the victim of the same — for it is said that you cannot contest terror on one side and keep nourishing and harboring the same on the other.
Pakistan’s flawed policy on tackling terror is responsible for the massacre of school children and the poor souls have paid the heavy price of the messes in Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber-1, and yet, Pakistani’s just know of one type of honour by showering on any victim every time, i.e. by immediately branding the killed as ‘Shaheed’ (martyrs). The painful question is, how many Shaheeds would they like to see every day instead of uniting against terror and sincerely eradicating it? Also, will hanging some of the incarcerated terrorists uproot the TTP or other extremists, or how long will Pakistan resort to a blame game accusing its neighbors for its internal chaos and would such a melodrama or comedy of errors make Pakistan secure for its people remains a question before its army and the government? The killing of 148 innocents by TTP clearly reflects their ideology, which is that they can go to any limit to make themselves exist — and this idealogy should be a last wake up call for the whole of Pakistan.
The Pakistan Army’s routine firing at borders and continuous “killing game” in the frontiers in revenge of the Peshawar tragedy can never be a solution, but instead will contribute to a never-ending era of killings. The Man of the Millennium Mahatma Gandhi rightly said, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary, the evil it does is permanent”.
Adfar Shah (Adfer Rashid Shah, PhD) is a New Delhi-based Kashmiri Sociologist and well-known social analyst and columnist at various reputed media groups. Adfar Shah has written sixty academic publications besides hundreds of conceptual articles. He has been writing on South Asia's socio-political realities at Eurasia Review since 2012, where he is Special Correspondent for South Asia Affairs.