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Disarming Tribesmen Must For Winning War on Terror

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The double standard of the US and Pakistani rulers have caused widespread destruction and killing in the tribal areas. It is due to their double standard that the people of tribal areas have still been living in the stone age.

Bringing of terrorists to tribal areas has badly affected the social fabric of the tribal belt. Most of the terrorists have bee brought to the tribal areas from other parts of the world. Some of the tribesmen have extended to support to terrorists, but actually they were asked by someone else to extend support  to them.

Terrorism has also been badly affecting the people mentally. According to a report carried out by a newspaper,tThe suicide attacks and terrorist acts across the country are causing fears and psychological diseases in society, psychiatrists stated.

Dr Abdul Shafiq, a trainee medical officer (TMO) at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH)’s Psychiatry Department, said that the recent consecutive suicide attacks had caused anxiety among people. Now everyone fears while walking in a bazaar, car parking lot or other public places. He said a businessman was recently hospitalised, for he was considering his life useless and was indifferent towards everything. “I examined the patient’s case history, and found that the patient had witnessed a bomb blast in Peshawar Saddar in the 90s and the incident made him feel sick,” he added.

Dr Shafiq said the terrorist acts created disturbance in society and that when people said, “One doesn’t know whether or not they would be able to return to their homes by the evening,” it was not mere talk but that this thought was running deep in society.

These days, most people outside their homes usually phone their families to tell them that they are safe, he said, adding that some witnesses to blasts fell victim to trauma.

Dr Shafiq also said most blast victims usually developed psychological illnesses at a later stage. He said economic and domestic problems, coupled with security fears, lead to nervous breakdown, which makes a person psychologically handicapped.

He said some media organisations were causing anxiety in society by publishing or telecasting horrible pictures or scenes, which adversely affect people’s brain. He added that the media should sensitise the public about an issue, and should avoid terrorising people.

Dr Idress at the Khyber Teaching Hospital informed that terrorism was causing fears and added that consecutive blasts might cause psychological and physical diseases. He said tension and anxiety were common disorders attached to fear that damage normal life.

Prof Dr Rahat Sajjad of the University of Peshawar (UoP)’s Psychology Department said that terrorist acts were causing fear in society and that the public was afraid of going out of their houses. People want to listen good news everyday, but the bad depresses them.

Asked about media’s role, he said it was playing both positive and negative roles, “Positive in the sense that media raise awareness and negative because some organisations exaggerate little crimes, “she added.

Today interesting editorial comment was published by a leading newspaper, in which an attempt has been made to justify the war in the tribal areas. On the one it opposed US action in the tribal areas, but on the other supported Pakistani action. "I personally favour the US action," a tribal elder stated.

The editortial stated that the Foreign Office spokesperson, Ms Tasneem Aslam, said at a press briefing Monday that Pakistan would “not tolerate any attacks within its territory by foreign forces”. Implying that Pakistan had its own strategy against terrorists, she added that “Pakistan did not want external elements to undermine its counter-terrorism efforts”. She dubbed any foreign intervention in the country’s Tribal Areas against international law and contrary to the popular emotion in Pakistan. Ms Aslam also referred to the US-Pakistan partnership against terrorism and feared that it would be marred if the US began to evolve its own plan of action at variance with the policies adopted by Pakistan. She said Pakistan relied on its own intelligence sources to inform its strategy, and if the US had any “actionable” information about the whereabouts of Al Qaeda elements in Pakistan, Islamabad should be so informed.

The White House, which has begun to speak with many tongues after Pakistan’s performance in its campaign against terrorism in FATA became patchy, immediately raised the white flag by “ruling out a unilateral military strike in the tribal territories in the US hunt for Al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries”. A White House spokesperson granted that Pakistan was a “sovereign state” whose frontiers could not be violated. He decried some comment made in the US about the possibility of strikes inside Pakistan and pointed to the many sacrifices made by President General Pervez Musharraf in the war against Al Qaeda. The matter of “intervention” had reached an unacceptable level when another voice from inside the White House — none other than Fran Townsend, the president’s homeland security adviser — stated earlier that the US would “use any instrument at our disposal to deal with the problem of Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri and Al Qaeda”. She had been asked if the US would use direct military force against Taliban or Al Qaeda elements inside Pakistan.

Until now, the notion of US “intervention” has been perceived in Pakistan as any action taken through US drones aimed at the elimination of “high value” terrorist targets inside the Tribal Areas. But there exists a grey area between drone strikes as unilateral action and strikes as a part of any “cooperative strategy”. Islamabad has always been in denial about these incidents and has always publicly opposed any “direct action” planned by NATO-ISAF forces in Afghanistan. As for the “intervention” from the Tribal Areas into Afghanistan, there is evidence that should worry Pakistan. Reliable Pakistani analysts have conceded that the Taliban “incursions” into Afghanistan continue to take place across the Durand Line.

There is another matter to consider within the “grey area” of international law. While the frontiers of a sovereign state are sacrosanct under international law, there are norms that guide the maintenance of “non-interference” regime when actions originate in areas not under state control. As far as the United States is concerned, it should also look back to its old policy of using Pakistan’s Tribal Areas for incursions into Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. There is thus a “para-legal precedent” of exploiting Pakistani territory as a launching pad for “deniable” Islamic warriors stationed inside Pakistan.

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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur District, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is (more...)

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