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Challenges that Imran Khan’s Tsunami faces in Waziristan – by Imran Khan

Tsunamis are known for the height of their waves, and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI)’s tsunami would probably register its tallest wave yet if it hits the mountains of Waziristan next month. Organising a jalsa inside the Taliban stronghold of Waziristan would be no small achievement, given the Taliban disapproval of electoral politics and their habit of expressing disapproval through violence.

One would expect the Tehreek i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to have a soft corner for the PTI, given that the PTI has always opposed any military action against the TTP. The PTI believes Talibanisation in Pakistan to be a direct consequence of Pakistan’s support for the US-led war on terror (WoT). While it condemns Taliban attacks within Pakistan, it regards them as a response to the WoT. To quote party Chairman Imran Khan, terrorism as epitomised by the Taliban is “a reaction to drone strikes and military operations; suicide bombings are a tool of the weak used to attack oppressors”.

But surprisingly in this case, the “weak” consider Imran Khan to be part of the “oppressors” as well. Back in 2011 TTP’s spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan declared Imran Khan a “ghulam” (slave) of the West. More recently the TTP has upped the ante by declaring Khan, an “infidel” because of the latter’s audacity to call himself a “liberal”. Presently, the TTP is deliberating upon whether to allow the Khan tsunami into Waziristan, but, if one is to go by the TTP’s track record in dealing with infidels, then he could be as legitimate a target as were many others who were killed for the crimes of being liberal, infidel etc.

These recent events have highlighted some very interesting anomalies in the PTI’s stance vis a vis the TTP. To begin with, it lays bare the naiveté in PTI’s overly simplistic analysis of the Taliban threat. For almost a decade now Imran Khan has been citing Pakistan’s support for the WoT as the main reason behind the Taliban phenomenon. With his anti drone dharnas he represents that counterfactual policy position, which he thinks is the only solution to the Taliban problem. But despite his anti WoT rhetoric the Taliban have labelled him a “slave of the West” (ironically the same epitaph that Khan often bestows upon President Zardari). It should be obvious that there is much more on the Taliban’s agenda, than the mere departure of US troops from Afghanistan.

But even more interesting is Imran Khan’s response to the TTP, which is eerily similar to that of the ANP leadership when they are faced with such threats. While there is nothing wrong in invoking the name of Allah and putting on a fearless posture, for Imran Khan this is a contradiction of his belief to reject any notion of confrontation with the Taliban. He has always proposed negotiations with the TTP to avoid unnecessary deaths and had recently even offered his own services as a mediator between the government and the Taliban.

Surprisingly with the lives of his own party workers at stake, he seems in no mood to negotiate with the Taliban, who have declared his belief in democracy to be un-Islamic and thus the main source of contention. One would expect the PTI to explain its vision of an “Islamic Welfare State” to the TTP and address this grievance of theirs, but so far there has been no indication of that.

So instead of negotiating a safe entry, the PTI would be relying on its Waziristan chapter for the security of the tsunami. Imran Khan believes that “every man in the tribal area is a warrior, and carries a gun”, a belief that stands challenged by the thousands of IDPs from Waziristan who were reluctant to go back home because of threats from the TTP. But nevertheless, even if one believes this romanticised notion, then by galvanising this heavily armed “peace caravan” the PTI is in fact planning to raise an armed lashkar to counter potential threats from the TTP.

This might be the first time that the chairman of the PTI is differentiating between the Taliban and the people of Fata, but during the last ten years, several such lashkars of “infidels” have been formed to resist the Taliban. However, doing so has come at very high costs, as the massacre of more than 200 tribal elders across Fata stands testament to the fate of those who have dared to defy the TTP.

While Imran Khan has clearly stated that he has no desire to get himself or anyone else injured or killed, barging into the TTP controlled areas at the head of an armed procession is certainly not the way to ensure that. Interestingly, Imran Khan’s ex wife Jemima Khan has announced the cancellation of her plans through her Twitter account, she took this decision after the chairman of PTI told her that going to Waziristan would be “too dangerous”, a fear that he has certainly not shared with the rest of the 100,000 expected at the event.

With parties such as the ANP restricting their political activities under threat from the Taliban, the chairman of the PTI should also reconsider his decision as the cost of it could be measured in terms of human lives.

The time has come for the rank and file of the PTI to demand a clear party position on the Taliban. If Taliban violence will continue to be directed at the vote registering “infidels” of Pakistan even after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, then this present war against the Taliban is definitely our war. A war that would become increasingly difficult to fight once the TTP is free of US pressure and Pakistan is devoid of military aid. If it is our war then let’s fight it as we are supposed to, rather than shy away from it by clinging on to ridiculous theories.

The writer is a freelance contributor.Email: iopyne@gmail.com; Twitter@iopyne

Source: The News

Koi Dhamki Waziristan Janay se Nahin Rok Sakti — Imran Khan

About the author

Jehangir Hafsi

3 Comments

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  • IK always repented on his previous decisions in politics

    He would one day repent a lot for his unparalleled support to terrorists

  • writer; i suppose the policy is very clear; u just want the yes or no answer. taliban are not against pakistan or muslims, if u hit u some one he will hit you back. there is no military solution of the this problem.
    yes bombing innocent people is wrong, but once the root cause is fixed this will stop automatically

  • ‘Tsunami’ to Waziristan

    Ayaz Wazir
    Sunday, September 30, 2012
    From Print Edition

    New 0 0 0

    Pakistan is a strange country where politics is considered a prerogative only of the privileged class. Here all sorts of comments are made and objections raised on new entrants into this field, except regarding those who hold high civil/military positions or were born into filthy rich families.

    Imran Khan, though not a part of that class, is very often subjected to harsh criticism. It is said that he was an excellent cricketer and brought laurels to the country as captain of the team, that he is a good philanthropist and set up a matchless cancer hospital, but that he is not an “experienced” politician. His critics forget that those who took over politics by force, in uniform or without, had not spent even a day in that field. We raised no objection to their taking over politics in broad daylight nor kept our distance from them in lending support when required. Imran Khan on the other had contested election and won a seat. As a member of parliament he experienced politics from close quarters and played a role there.

    He is now all set to take his “Aman Mission” to Waziristan. His close association with the people, for obvious reasons, led him to visit that area even before 9/11. There already existed a soft corner for him but his fight against perpetration of atrocities against the people in Waziristan made him popular beyond expectations.

    His stance on the war on terror and military operations in the tribal areas is an open secret. He has vehemently opposed the government’s policy on war on terror, deployment of the military and subsequent operations in Fata. This correct, bold and courageous initiative won him the hearts and minds of even those who were not politically aligned with him. They admired and, on the quiet, supported him in his stance that military operation was not a solution to the problem.

    He is all set to give a message to the world from Waziristan that the tribal area of Pakistan is not as bad as projected in the media. All the people of that area are not militants nor have they extended support to the few that have made the area and people hostage to their wishes.

    His visit to Waziristan did not come out of the blue. He used to talk about visiting that area off and on. First, he mentioned visiting Esha in North Waziristan which was then changed to Wana, the summer capital of South Waziristan. Again that got changed to Spinkai Raghzai and then to Kotkai, the areas inhabited by the Mehsud tribe, who were forced out from there in preparation for a military operation in 2009. Since then the entire Mehsud tribe is living as IDPs in Tank and Dera Israil Khan or the neighbouring areas of Wazirs in both South and North Waziristan.

    Kotkai, where Imran Khan wants to go or is advised to go, is not a major town in the Mehsud area. Main towns of that area are Sarwakai, Kanigoram, Laddah and Makeen, which are deserted like Kotkai. The reason of Kotkai’s fame is militancy being the home town of Hakimullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

    Why has Imran Khan decided to hold a meeting in that deserted place is beyond comprehension as very few Mehsuds have returned to that area. If the purpose of his visit is to meet the Mehsud tribe then he should have decided to hold public meetings at Tank or Dera Ismail Khan where a vast majority of Mehsuds live as IDPs.

    If the purpose of his visit is to be in the close vicinity of the place where the founder of the TTP lived or have a lunch in the house where once Hakimullah Mehsud or Qari Hussain lived, then, yes, he should go there. And if he wanted publicity, to which he is not new, yes he will receive that as the world’s eyes are focused on Waziristan, a place which has not been visited by a high-profile visitor in recent history. But let us not forget that militants opposed to the visit will also have the chance to gain publicity, so it is a double-edged sword.

    Another important factor that he may not have considered is tribal sensitivities to important visits to their areas. Each tribe wants to be recognised and given its due share. No tribe would like to be summoned to the place of another. An exception could have been made for Imran Khan had security not been a serious concern for people coming from far-flung areas. Even the Mehsuds, the owners of that area are not allowed to go there without prior permission, in writing, from the law-enforcing agencies. Who would be there to receive him and listen to his speech in view of the ongoing operation, anything wrong can happen at any time. If the visit of the army chief to the same area sometime back was not free of problems, how come a gathering of the type that the PTI wants to have will remain out of danger?

    Yet another, and still more important, factor to mention is the local tribal dynamics which, irrespective of political inclination, play an important role in dealing with the people there or moulding their opinion. Giving preference to one tribe over the other is not advisable. That will send wrong signals and make it difficult for members of the PTI to persuade people in their respective areas to vote for them. Holding a public meeting in a place of less importance than its capital is not a wise thing to do.

    Wana is the most populous area, is the safest place in the two Waziristans and has excellent road links with the settled districts through Gomal Zam Dam, which takes just two-and-a-half hours to reach from Tank. It has an airport which was recently extended and can be used for a trip like this to save time.

    These are some of the stark realities, difficult to ignore when dealing with people expecting them to vote for you. The choice is yours to make, Mr Khan.

    The writer is a former ambassador. Email: waziruk@hotmail.com

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=134924&Cat=9