Pakistani army again launched a big operation against terrorists operating in tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border, but there is still confusion among the rulers. This time again the government has launched the operation after feeling pressure from their masters sitting in the United States. They are still confused whether to root out this menace once for all or will it need to think of masters in the United States winning the next election. Now this is clear to all and sundry that US rulers led by President Bush have been using the menace of terrorism for keeping themselves alive.
The present operation in Pakistan has been launched on the instruction of the US and this is the reason that the government of Pakistan has made no preparation before the operation. It seems this one will also meet the same fate like the previous operations.
Daily Times has discussed the situation in its editorial comment. The paper is also confused. President Pervez Musharraf's meeting with COAS Gen Ashfaq Kayani on Friday hinted at how the government is positioning itself on the question of the threatened takeover of the NWFP by the Taliban. The presidential statement issued publicly said that "religious extremism and terrorist violence must be combated with full force and all resources available"-. However, to this obviously unexceptionable statement, a statement from the COAS explained that "I will act on the decision of the government"-. Gen Kayani did not admit that a go-ahead had been given to him by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, making him the "principal"- with powers to decide action in the areas threatened by Taliban violence.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesman keeps saying the army is ready for action against the mounting threat in the NWFP, but it seems that the army is only "ready"- for a specific order from the civilian government to proceed. But that doesn't seem to be coming. Even as the warlords from outside Peshawar gradually take over the city through their armed warriors, the ANP government continues to hug the peace deals that already lie in tatters in Swat. And the killing of two persons closely related to the PPP leaders of Swat is sending an ominous political message to the coalition in Peshawar.
The ANP insists it is making headway with the killers, but has asked the frontier constabulary to guard its police from being annihilated by the warlords who increasingly rule the administered districts of the province. If it doesn't take a clear line on what it is going to do about the killing of innocent people under its jurisdiction, it will start looking as ambiguous as the political parties in Balochistan, shunning violence but feeling soft towards Baloch separatism.
The federal government has turned its face away from the trouble in the Tribal Areas and the NWFP by approaching the United Nations for an inquiry into the death of the PPP leader Ms Benazir Bhutto "because another state is involved in the assassination."- Even the TV personality, the fiery Zaid Zaman, who lambastes the US and sees all kinds of American and Jewish conspiracies behind political events, was blunt in his assertion that Baitullah Mehsud had ordered her assassination.
The PPP must wake up to the Taliban threat to carve out a state with the help of Al Qaeda. The rudiments of such a state have already been put together in South Waziristan. The banned Pakistani jihadi organisations linked to Al Qaeda have already activated themselves. Sipah Sahaba, that was first revived mysteriously by the Musharraf establishment in Islamabad in the shape of a mammoth rally in May 2006, has now staged its second show of strength at a Karachi rally this week.
The Interior Ministry adviser Mr Rehman Malik has repeatedly put the nation on notice on the arrest of a large number of terrorists "" most of them members of Lashkar-e Jhangvi "" in Lahore and Rawalpindi with huge amounts of explosive material. But politicians clearly do not want to identify their interests in any anti-terrorism strategy. (The targeting of the PPP leaders in Rawalpindi and Swat weans the PPP and its rivals away from taking on the Taliban in the same measure.) They clutch at the wrong view that it is not "their war"- and that therefore they can't take part in the army's "killing of their own people"-.
Meanwhile, the all-Pakistan alliance of the Shia ulema went on record on Friday saying that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are killing nearly 30 Shias a day in the Kurram Agency. On the other hand, the Sipah Sahaba, mother organisation of Lashkar-e Jhangvi, is being allowed to revive itself in the country. At least one TV company doing a discussion programme on sectarianism in Pakistan has received threats from Sipah Sahaba to stop the airing of the discussion. Needless to say, the planned discussion has been dropped.
The most important first step in the direction of national security is the ownership of the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. This time the army has clearly decided not to be left holding the baby while its real political progenitors are reluctant to confess parentage. It is not going to go to war simply to lose further face among a people more emotionally attached to other "causes"- like the lawyers' movement, Dr AQ Khan's freedom, President's impeachment, etc. So we are lumped with politicians who are afraid to admit the truth and are instead repeating the convenient lie that Pakistan's gradual descent into anarchy is because of NATO-ISAF forces and President Karzai in Afghanistan.