New Age Islam Edit Bureau
15 January 2016
Breaking Free Of the Primitive
Mindset That Continues To Oppress Women and Justify Terrorism
By Sabina Khan
Who Wants Peace In Pakistan?
By Munir Akram
Lamentation of an American Muslim
By Saira Wasif
A Black Cloud Looms Over Nangarhar
By S Mubashir Noor
The Pakistani Diaspora in the US
By Dr Zamurrad Awan
The Afghan Connection
By Cyril Almeida
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Breaking Free Of the Primitive Mindset
That Continues To Oppress Women and Justify Terrorism
January 24, 2016
Pakistan’s path to becoming a developed
country relies upon breaking free of the primitive mindset that continues to
oppress women and justify terrorism. So far 2016, declared to be the year when
terrorism shall end, is off to a torrid start with the Council of Islamic
Ideology (CII) opposing the anti-child marriage bill as ‘blasphemous’ and a
terrorist attack on a university in Charsadda. The CII is an advisory body and
thus it only chimes in on select bills. When it does provide recommendations, many
are not followed by the government. However, when it comes to issues like
rights of women, child marriages and rape, guidance from the Council is adhered
to without question. And then, as happens too often in our culture, men in our
society end up using religion to keep women subservient. The National Assembly
gets a free pass as women and children continue to suffer. Paedophilia is a
crime in the rest of the world and should be looked upon with disgust in
Pakistan as well instead of being ignored under the guise of religious/cultural
Furthermore, as long as the likes of Abdul
Aziz of Lal Masjid fame are allowed to roam around free, there is clearly a
problem with the government’s mindset. The girls’ madrasa of the Lal Masjid
released a video pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and its leader. Just
about any other nation in the world would have arrested these students, who
openly voiced support for those who engage in rape and sex slavery. No military
operation can eradicate this primitive mindset. It is fuelled by an obsession with
a regressive ideology and an antiquated belief that women are sub-humans. Any
organisation or madrasa holding such views should ideally be disbanded. But
that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.
It is important to remember that the CII
was established in 1962 as an advisory body. Since then, each subsequent
amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan dealt a significant blow to any
visions of the country blossoming into a liberal, democratic state. From Zulfiqar
Ali Bhutto imposing prohibition in the 1970s to General Ziaul Haq’s fanaticism,
Pakistan has regressed. Each amendment further intertwined a certain
interpretation of religion deep into the state’s laws and wreaked havoc on the
rights of minorities and women.
As is the common practice, following the
Charsadda attack, a day of mourning was declared for the victims and vows were
made to wipe out terrorism. People will be hanged and prayers will be offered.
But none of these actions have any permanence. They don’t do anything
significant to tackle the extremist mindset. At the heart of the problem is the
financial and ideological influence of nations that promote child marriage,
trample upon women’s rights and even prohibit them from driving. A far cry
indeed from the Quaid-e-Azam’s words: “I have always maintained that no nation
can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with men.
No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men.
There are two powers in the world. One is the sword and the other, the pen.
However, there is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.”
IN his final State of the Union address, US
President Obama predicted a decade of instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Af-Pak was always a bad construct for policy formulation. There are obvious
security linkages between Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the circumstances and
prospects of the two countries are significantly different.
Predicting continued instability in
Afghanistan is an easy call. The Kabul government is beset by internal division
and an insurgency that has momentum. Given the preconditions posed by Kabul,
the recently created quadrilateral forum will find it difficult to get the
Afghan Taliban to the table let alone secure an agreement for peace. A
turbulent and fractured Afghanistan is the most likely prospect for the
Pakistan is a different story. It has
undertaken a massive and comprehensive counterterrorism campaign targeting the
TTP, sectarian groups and political gangs. Action has now been taken also
against a rogue pro-Kashmiri organisation. Terrorist and criminal violence has
been dramatically reduced.
There are several external drivers of
violence that need to be neutralised.
Unfortunately, as illustrated by the
assault on the Charsadda university, it is premature to celebrate. To break the
back of terrorism in Pakistan, the kinetic campaign will need to be continued
for a considerable period and the social, economic and other components of the
National Action Plan fully implemented.
However, national actions will not be
sufficient to defeat terrorism. There are several external drivers of violence
that need to be neutralised.
The TTP is the self-confessed culprit in
the Charsadda terrorist attack. With 180,000 troops deployed on its western
borders, Pakistan has crushed or chased out most of the TTP militants from most
of its territory. Small groups hide ‘in the open’, in inaccessible valleys or
in Afghan refugee camps. However, the major threat arises from the infiltration
of TTP terrorists from their safe havens in Afghanistan.
While Pakistan has offered to help in
promoting reconciliation between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban, there is little
evidence of reciprocal action by Kabul to eliminate the TTP safe havens or to
control cross-border infiltration. Kabul has refused to even revive the
coordination mechanisms for border monitoring that were created with the
Certain circles in Kabul, such as the
National Directorate of Intelligence, are known to have collaborated with the
TTP and sponsored Baloch insurgents to destabilise Pakistan. They were also
responsible for scuttling the Murree talks and then blaming Pakistan for
escalated insurgent attacks from Kabul to Kunduz. Now, they are asking Pakistan
to attack the Afghan Taliban unless they agree to come to the negotiating
table. This would bring Afghanistan’s war to Pakistan.
Islamabad must reassert its demand for
action against the TTP by Kabul and its international patrons. If such
cooperation is not forthcoming, Pakistan will need to consider unilateral
actions to eliminate the TTP safe havens in Afghanistan. Peace and security within
Pakistan is also influenced by the policies and actions of several other
Historically, the US has contributed,
wittingly or unwittingly, to Pakistan’s destabilisation since the anti-Soviet
Afghan war. The rump US-Nato force in Afghanistan is essential to prop up the
tottering Kabul government. Obama is wisely averse to resuming a larger
military role in Afghanistan. A Republican president, however, may be more
adventurist, especially if driven by the misplaced desire to counter China’s
growing influence and interests in the region. In this context, it is relevant
to evaluate whether the US shares China’s vision that peace and prosperity can
be promoted in Pakistan and the region through the implementation of the
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
India’s policies are more predictable. It
has openly opposed the CPEC enterprise and is chary of China’s growing role in
the region. Notwithstanding the Lahore embrace and the likely resumption of the
Comprehensive Dialogue, India remains the godfather of anti-Pakistan elements
in Afghanistan and can be expected to continue to encourage and support them in
their use of the TTP and Baloch dissidents to spread mischief and turmoil in
Pakistan. Since Pakistan is now constrained from playing the ‘Kashmir card’, it
cannot hope to neutralise India’s subversive activities on the negotiating
table; they will have to be defeated through direct action against the
militants and muscular diplomacy with Kabul and its patrons.
Given Pakistan’s denominational composition,
Iran’s policies will have an impact on Pakistan’s internal stability. Following
its nuclear agreement with the major powers and the removal of international
sanctions, Iran can be expected to remain on good behaviour on issues which do
not affect its core interests. Tehran’s priorities are to retain its dominant
influence in Syria, Iraq and the Levant; neutralise Saudi-led Sunni strategies,
and maximise the economic benefits flowing from the lifting of sanctions. Iran
can benefit from CPEC connectivity and closer linkages with China. However,
Iran has a strategic relationship with India. A US-India-Iran axis is
improbable, but not inconceivable. Pakistan needs to engage Iran and ensure
that it does not try to play the sectarian card in Pakistan or attempt to
forestall Pakistan’s emergence as China’s strategic link to the Arabian Sea and
the Persian Gulf.
The GCC states have been Pakistan’s closest
friends and benefactors. Relations were unfortunately frayed by the clumsy
manner in which Pakistan spurned the Arab coalition that has intervened in
Yemen. Since then, Pakistan has mended fences with Saudi Arabia. Similar
conciliation with the UAE is outstanding. Some have conjectured that the UAE
would consider Gwadar’s role in CPEC as a threat to Dubai’s commercial
pre-eminence. In further exchanges with the GCC states, Pakistan should
reassure them that CPEC will add, not detract, from their prosperity. But
Islamabad’s first priority should be to secure an effective end to the flow of
funds to sectarian and extremist groups from certain Gulf States.
It is only through such full-spectrum
diplomacy, defence and deterrence that Pakistan can prove Obama wrong and
achieve the peace and stability which is indispensable to implement the CPEC
realise rapid growth and emerge as Asia’s newest economic ‘Tiger’.
Munir Akram is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.
January 25, 2016
I live in a world where my existence, my
way of life and above all my religious practices are monitored and questioned
on a daily basis. I am ridiculed for wearing a Hijab. I get curious looks for
having a long beard. I am constantly under scrutiny if my name starts with
Mohammed. My roots instantly draw verbal fire from people to and fro because I
am considered a terrorist by default or sympathetic to the cause. I am a taboo
to hang out with because I am a Muslim.
Who do I blame for creating a nemesis like
al Qaeda, Islamic State (IS), the emerging lone wolves who are going postal or
the vast number of disgruntled youth turning to violent resorts to appease
their fragmented and misguided ideologies? It takes them down a path of
destruction but for Pakistani expatriates and Muslim residents classification
starts at colour, moves on to race and ends dramatically but definitely on
The Islamic teachings I was brought up with
differ greatly from the ones seen in social reflections today. Jihad/holy war was
intended for the perseverance of faith and personal safety, not for the
mindless killing spree by these psychos who claim to spread the word of God by
forcing their agenda on young girls lured into their stronghold via popular
social and volunteer networks. The projection of Islam by those possessing a
violent mindset is a tragedy of errors philosophically, theologically and
Back then and even now Islamic teachings
were the guiding beacon that helped to keep spirituality confined between the
Almighty and ourselves thereby not conforming to a boastful display of
religiosity that creates an imbalance between daily lifestyle and ritualism.
Muslim faith is about respecting and upholding the rights of parents, siblings,
blood relations, neighbours, teachers, the orphaned, widows, the needy or even
a by-stander who deserves a smile and a touch of kindness. I grew up knowing
Islam as the ultimate guide to living in harmony with myself and those around
me. Now, at the turn of the tide, I see a contorted rendition of Islamic
ideology and its principal doctrine. Using the sacred words of the Quran to
voice propaganda is what Islam has been reduced to by the modern day terrorist.
Chanting Allah hu Akbar before taking a life has done irreparable damage to the
fabric of Muslim communities worldwide. I see hatred pouring out for my faith
on forums and blogs, and I repeatedly question my decision of leaving behind a
culture to settle in a place where I had hoped for a better life. What these
fanatics fail to realise is that the brunt of their selfish acts is felt by
peaceful Islamic communities far and wide. The struggle for a peaceful
integration in multicultural societies goes down the drain and we are thrown
back to the very point from hence we started.
We are the numero uno priority for 2016
presidential candidates as well. Everyone wants to ride the censure train and
folks like us who have given years of our lives working and establishing roots
are thrown in the blame pit to get bullied in our work places or threatened in
the middle of the day. The promises this political system wants to deliver will
only make it worse for white-collar people like us. We may not be active
participants in the murderous rampage but we surely will be treated and
reprimanded as one.
I am not bullied because I am fat. I am not
even harassed by the brown of my skin or the accent that distinguishes me from
the rest; I am bullied because I am a Muslim. I am called a terrorist because I
choose to remain a Muslim. I am handcuffed because I conform to a specific
stereotype. I am constantly under scrutiny as I could be the next potential
suicide bomber in the making. My religion and I are the latest things to show
up on your television set. There may be training grounds and sleeper cells for
all sorts of doctrines but the supposed biggest problem in the US that needs to
be dealt with turns out to be Muslims and unless we are deported or leave the
country of our own free will like that lanky kid Ahmed, the US can never get
rid of all the violence that mars its streets, especially all the racial
killings and police brutality (all puns intended). We are given the highest
coverage available to mankind if there is one slip and there will only be
fleeting mention if a young Muslim couple is gunned down over a parking spot
issue. What is missing is the chant “Let us light a pyre and hang all the
Muslims like the ill-famed Salem witches of ol’”.
I see no end to this debacle. We are trying
our best to make a life for our children, to make them a working cog of this
machine. Whatever insecurities and grievances the world has against the US,
there should be a better way to solve them. Are we the collateral damage to be
sacrificed for the good of many? Life will never be the same in the land of opportunities;
life will never be plain sailing from here onwards. Let us just hope the
rolling tide does not choke the humanity out of these fine folks.
Saira Wasif is a freelance columnist
More Afghan peace talks without a ceasefire
is like putting the cart before the horse. How can the Quadrilateral
Coordination Group (QCG), comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US,
expect a different outcome from previous tries without the Taliban halting
attacks? Could it be that this multilateral confab exists for a multinational
threat, meaning Islamic State (IS), and peace in Afghanistan would be a
The QCG probably realised three things
after its second meeting in Kabul on January 18. One, that the word Taliban as
a collective noun no longer represents the monolithic, militant entity of
Mullah Omar’s heyday. Two, Pakistan only has a few Taliban factions under its
thumb to nudge towards detente or use as proxies against IS. Three, the
self-styled Khorasan province of IS (IS-K) is becoming a real headache in
Nangarhar. Consequently, the quartet’s first order of business may be to form
another “coalition of the willing”, terrorists and peaceniks alike, to strangle
IS-K before it turns into a transnational threat for Asia.
For a long time, international actors took
the ostrich approach towards IS-K because it suited the status quo to keep
their heads firmly buried in the sand. It was only after the group released a
gory propaganda clip titled ‘Khorasan: the graveyard of the apostates’ in
December that alarm bells started ringing. The US State Department now
classifies IS-K as a bonafide menace but, until August last year, Washington
dismissed the militants as “operationally emergent” but largely
inconsequential. Moreover, an unnamed US counter-terrorism official gloated to
ABC News in September that IS-K and the Taliban “fighting each other makes our
Such hopes of mutually assured destruction
waned quickly. As IS-K continues to wrest territory in Nangarhar, Washington
warns the group is past its “initial exploratory phase” and poised to wreak
substantial havoc. To prove this, IS-K struck both Pakistan’s consulate and an
Afghan tribal elders meeting in Jalalabad within the space of a few days in
mid-January, leaving over 20 soldiers and civilians dead.
The Taliban, for their part, fret that IS-K
could eclipse them as the primary antagonists in Afghanistan, thereby eroding
hard-earned leverage to gain self-rule in the southern provinces. This fear
propelled last year’s vicious spring offensive that continues through winter
without pause. Tellingly, Russian media reported that the new Taliban chief,
Mullah Akhtar Mansour, met President Vladimir Putin in Tajikistan last
September to solicit Moscow’s aid in defeating IS-K. The former’s vanishing act
after an internecine gun-battle in Quetta last month, however, dents the
Taliban’s attempts to appear united.
Though suspicion clouds Pakistan’s motives
every time new Afghan peace talks surface, Islamabad now has real interest in
shoring up Kabul. On December 29, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah revealed
the arrest of six IS-K militants from Daska and the discovery of a jihadist
training camp nearby. Up to that point, Islamabad had outright denied reports
that last year’s Safoora Goth massacre was IS-K’s doing, emphasising “no
footprint” of the Middle Eastern group existed in Pakistan.
After Sanaullah’s sobering announcement,
the state can dither no more on proactively culling these home-grown mutants.
The last thing Pakistan needs, then, is a new jihadist nursery in Nangarhar, a
stone’s throw away from its perpetually restive tribal areas, and especially as
the Torkham crossing point is vital for trade. Also, with ground officially
broken on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline,
energy-starved Islamabad may need to nuance its ‘strategic depth’ doctrine to
stay in lockstep with QCG partners.
Other quartet members have their own
reasons for desiring a stable Afghanistan. US President Barack Obama, for
example, needs IS-K liquidated to protect the sacrifices of over 2,300 US
soldiers killed during Operation Enduring Freedom and to ensure that Afghan
militancy does not snowball on his watch in an election year. Russia,
meanwhile, admits that its interests “objectively coincide” with the Taliban on
IS-K and that channels for intelligence sharing are operational. Though they
make strange bedfellows, Moscow’s primary concern right now is to prevent a
militancy spill over into its “near abroad”.
China, similarly, fears for Xinjiang’s
stability if the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) fighters in IS-K ranks
return home and escalate the ongoing insurgency. Beijing, of course, also has
significant economic interests tied to the region. Other than high-stakes
investments in Afghan minerals and fossil fuels, a stable Afghanistan is
critical for China’s new Silk Road ambitions.
The QCG will huddle anew on February 6 in
Islamabad, again without Taliban representation. Curiously, if the group was
worthy of invitation last July, what has changed? The only plausible
explanation is that IS-K has leapfrogged the Taliban as a regional security nightmare.
That said, the spate of suicide bombings timed around QCG talks suggests the
Taliban will not take this demotion lying down. Sadly, yet another bloody year
S Mubashir Noor is a freelance columnist and audio engineer based in
The recent outbursts by Donald Trump, a
Republican front-runner presidential candidate, have created a stir amongst the
Muslim expatriate community, including Pakistanis. Trump has called for “a
total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US”. Before this, he had
suggested the registration of Muslim Americans and strict surveillance of their
mosques. In the prevailing atmosphere of Islamophobia, Pakistani Americans feel
not only left out from the mainstream but also have the impression that they have
been singled out as a religious/ethnic minority. Trump and those who are
like-minded in the Republican Party (GOP) keep tagging terrorism to Muslims and
can hardly differentiate between an individual act and the entire Muslim
community as such. Such a mind-set has pushed the Muslim community towards the
defensive as they feel insecure, suspected and, at times discriminated against
based on religion and nationality. Under the given circumstances, which
ultimately will determine the comfort level of Pakistani expatriates, the
complexities of their assimilation within American society need to be
evaluated. According to the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service, till
late 1960, there were around 2,500 Pakistanis, a number that today has
increased to almost 500,000 making them one of the largest growing ethnic
minorities in the country.
The majority of Pakistani immigrants in the
US are from the urban-based middle-class, especially from Punjab (particularly
Lahore) and Sindh (mainly Karachi). In the US, the majority of the Pakistani
diaspora resides in metropolitan cities like New York, New Jersey, Houston,
California, Washington D C and Dallas (Texas). Depending on how effectively a
family is able to transform its values, most of the Pakistani diaspora not only
shows the trend to attain higher education but is also ambitious to achieve
professional excellence in their chosen fields.
Although the Pakistani diaspora is strongly
linked to the cultural traditions and religious values of its native land,
simultaneously, they struggle to assimilate in western culture, creating a
hybrid between the host and home country. Nevertheless, the assimilation
pattern of the first, second and third generation is diversified in terms of
cultural adaptation and religious flexibility. The integration process of the
second and third generation of this community has been comparatively smooth and
quick, as compared to the first because of various reasons. Nevertheless, one
fact needs to be reckoned and that is that, across generations, the Pakistani
diaspora has maintained its cultural identity and has tried to operate in the
middle stream, through which they are capable of integrating. For example, in
family related matters, particularly regarding marriage, unlike the first and
second generation, third generation Pakistani Americans prefer unarranged
marriages (where the potential couple finalise the decision to marry after
meeting and talking, irrespective of the family pressure) over arranged
marriages. However, the acceptance of love marriage with other religious and
ethnic groups is still not fully recognised.
Despite cultural assimilation, Pakistanis,
through various means, strongly preserve their religious identity, which is
Islam, especially when it comes to religious festivals and matrimonial matters.
The religious practices of the Pakistani Muslim population had never been
perceived as a threat for the security of the host country before September 11,
2001. Although not a single hijacker was a Pakistani national but the common
American citizen, because of lack of information, irrespective of making a
distinction between a militant and real Islam, has become suspicious about the
activities of Muslim immigrants, including Pakistanis. According to the FBI’s
data, the hate crimes against Muslims and their mosques have increased
significantly in 2015; there have been 63 recorded attacks on mosques. After
November 2015’s Paris attack and December 2015’s San Bernardino shooting in
California, within one week of December, 19 hate crimes against Muslims were
recorded. This is the reinforcement of Islamphobia in American society to its
greatest height, which has not only posed serious threats for the Pakistani
Muslim community in the US but also presents a serious challenge for the American
The American leadership also needs to
distinguish between an individual act of terrorism and community conduct as
they perceived the shooting by a 23-year-old South Korean citizen on April 16,
2007, in Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, resulting in the
loss of 32 lives, as an individual act. An encouraging aspect in this context
is that the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, commented, “It
is important that we do not listen to the voices, including those coming from
Republican candidates for president, who would paint with such a broad brush,
who would want us to somehow isolate, register Muslims, go after Islam. Our
enemies are these criminal killers, who misuse a religion in order to recruit
people, and give them the training to go out and kill more people.” Similar
views have been expressed by other Democratic leaders. The most articulate
response came from internationally known American former professional boxer
Muhammad Ali as he stated, “I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about
killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino or anywhere else in the world.
True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic jihadists
goes against the very tenets of our religion. Stand up to those who use Islam
to advance their own personal agenda.”
Assessing the growing hatred against
Muslims in the US, the American leadership has a serious responsibility to
uphold American values, which vow for it to be a liberal society safeguarding
the freedom of religion. It cannot be overlooked that Muslim Americans are a
constructive part of American society as successful engineers, doctors,
businessmen and philanthropists. It is generally believed that better sense
will prevail amongst common Americans as there is a strong likelihood that in
the coming presidential primaries, the hard liners and the Muslim haters will
be rejected by the electorate.
Dr Zamurrad Awan is an assistant professor at the Forman Christian
SO, now what? Let’s be realistic about the
terribleness. Realistic, admittedly, as only non-victims can be.
It was Charsadda. It was a fraction of APS.
And it wasn’t little kids. It’s a troubling assumption, but we can only assume
they’d rather have hit something else.
Another APS. A proper military school.
Maybe a mall. Probably a big city. But revenge was wrought on a place most of
us can’t locate on a map.
Who in this world really believes that
Afghanistan will ever be stable? Now or possibly ever?
Yet, it’s an old pattern. When they can’t
get to the hits they really want, they go after something else. When hard
targets become difficult, they go for soft ones.
When schools become better protected,
they’ll hit a mall. When airbases become impossible, they’ll go back to bus
But Charsadda is important. Because not all
terrorist attacks are the same. Know what happened in Khyber a day before? Or
was it Peshawar? Quetta wasn’t even a blip.
All lives may be equal, but terrorism knows
the difference. A small hit on a hard target in Karachi equals a big hit on a
soft target in Charsadda.
An attack that takes out a large number of
soldiers equals an attack that takes out a few kids. And there’s nothing —
nothing — like a Fidayeen attack on children.
It is the purest form of terror. For
obvious reasons. They aren’t dying in a second. Not like in an explosion. They
see the terror. They know what’s coming. They watch their friends die.
Here’s the question, though: the Taliban
seem to have figured us out, but have we figured them out?
The most frightening part of Charsadda
wasn’t the attack — it was the response. Not the QRFs and the ISPR pressers.
But where instantly it was decided the attack came from: Afghanistan. And
because who was blamed: Umar Mansour.
The heart sinks when you hear Afghanistan.
Not because of NDS or RAW or whatever else is fashionable to blame. For a more
straightforward reason: who in this world really believes that Afghanistan will
ever be stable? Now or possibly ever?
And even if Afghanistan is ever stable,
just look at the border in the east. It is a border like no other. Barbed,
fenced, mined, locked-down; soldiers and patrols ready to shoot anyone, no
questions asked. And yet Pathankot happened.
If Pathankot can happen 68 years in, what
in the hell is the possibility of thwarting a serious attack from Afghanistan —
now or ever?
And then there’s the guy who’s been blamed:
Umar Mansour. Umar who?
Not all threats from Afghanistan can’t be
dismantled. Back in the day, there was a Riaz Basra and an Akram Lahori.
They terrorised Punjab before decamping to
Afghanistan. Khost, as legend has it. That’s where our pals, the Haqqanis, were
hanging out. Back when the Taliban were in charge.
(We’ll come back to that.)
But they were eventually taken out and
difficult to replace. A Riaz Basra is not born every day.
Umar Mansour is scary because he’s a
nobody. Not in a terrorist sense. He sounds like a terrible man. Scary in a
Before Umar Mansour there was Maulana
Fill-in-the-blanks X. After Umar Mansour, there’ll be a Mullah
Fill-in-the-blanks Y. Umar Mansour is like your eternal Al Qaeda No 3s.
There’ll always be another Umar Mansour.
When wickedness is dreamt up in Afghanistan
and executed by an eminently replaceable sort, what hope, really, is there for
stability in Pakistan?
And here’s where the unpleasant question
needs to be asked. What in the hell kind of Afghanistan are we trying to
Sure, the Americans decided they wanted no
part of it any longer and are willing to cut whatever deal possible. Sure, the
Afghan government knows it’s mired in the impossible and wants any deal it can
get before state collapse.
Sure, Pakistan has been earnest and helpful
in the quest for a deal. But what in God’s name are we really doing? Just work
Right now, the Afghan government is unable
or unwilling to sort out the anti-Pakistan militants who’ve found sanctuary in
its eastern provinces. Fine.
They — the Afghan government — want
something from us just now, so that gives us leverage. That’s why Raheel can
ring up Kabul to demand and the Americans to complain.
They have to listen, we have to deal; it’s
a win-win scenario — right now. But let’s imagine a deal gets made.
Afghanistan is either effectively carved up
or the Taliban are given a bunch of seats in Kabul. Then what, re our enemies
The incentive for the Afghan government —
the non-Taliban elements — to help us out would disappear. They’ll have what
they want and they’ll probably tell us to go talk to the Taliban.
It would even make some kind of sense —
after all, the terror threat to Pakistan from Afghan soil would mostly emanate
from areas our friends, the Taliban, are either controlling or influential in.
So, over to the Taliban we’ll go. Guys,
help us out.
At that point, what’s their incentive to
help us out? They’d have outlasted two superpowers, won power a
decade-and-a-half apart and need us less than ever.
And, let’s not forget, we’d be asking them
to crush their ideological companions. The very folk who, most recently, would
have helped them fight against IS and the like.
Why would they do it? And what would be our
leverage if they don’t want to?
Yes, but what’s the alternative, the boys
here will ask. Well, have a look at Charsadda and ask yourself this:
Is faux-stability in Afghanistan worth
horror in Pakistan?
Cyril Almeida is a member of staff.