Full text of General Kayani’s speech last month (Independence Day) on war on extremism and terrorism; “our own war, and a just war too”. Perhaps it’s time to practice what we preach!
Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s speech
Azadi Parade – 14 August 2012
In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful
Ladies and Gentlemen!
1. Please accept my heartfelt felicitations on the 65th anniversary of the independence day of Pakistan. The annual ‘Azadi Parade’ at Pakistan Military Academy has become an important event of our independence day celebration. Personally, I am honoured to witness today’s parade. This special ceremony reminds us of 14th August 1947, the most important day of our history. It is also an occasion to pay tribute to those who rendered unparalleled sacrifices for winning, and later preserving, our freedom.
2. The 14th day of August will always remind us how Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam, took on tremendous odds to win their right to a separate national and religious identity. Perhaps, no other nation in modern history has paid a higher price for its independence.
3. We should always remember that Pakistan was not created only as a geographical entity. Rather, Pakistan was to become an ideal Islamic welfare state that would showcase how Islam’s golden principles can form the basis for a modern and tolerant society. A society wherein not only Muslims, but the minorities would also be guaranteed security of life, property and religious freedom. It is this later part, which is the unfinished agenda of 1947. We will only be able to truly honour the sacrifices of our elders when our society becomes a true reflection of the very spirit of Islam.
4. Today, we are living through the decisive moments of our history. Disillusionment, desperation, religious bigotry, political disharmony and discord seem to permeate our lives. Naturally, the forces hostile to our motherland are benefitting from internal weaknesses and resulting uncertainty in the country. Blaming such anti-Pakistan elements aside, our efforts must be directed towards stabilizing the internal front.
5. Today, extremism and terrorism present a grave challenge. We can claim that this menace is not of our making. This approach, however, will not solve the problem. It is important for us to clearly understand, what is extremism and terrorism. Misconceptions about these two terminologies, can prove catastrophically divisive for the nation.
6. We are faithful Muslims, without any reservations. It is an important article of our faith that only Allah can, and will decide who is a lesser or better Muslim. We must also remember, without doubt, that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam. No one can separate Islam from Pakistan.
7. Any person who believes his opinion to be the final verdict, is an extremist. The perfect or universal intellect, is only attributable to Allah. Man, a temporal being, is born with an imperfect intellect, beset with limitations. A human claim to be the final word in judging right from wrong, is tantamount to a claim to divine attributes, or shirk.
8. As a human being, It would be wrong for me to give the verdict that today’s parade was the best in the world. I have not witnessed all the parades in the world. More importantly, can my criterion for this judgment be considered final? if I cannot give the final verdict in such a small issue, then how is it possible to do so in the intricate issues dealing with religion and life. It becomes blatant extremism when one not only insists upon finality of personal opinion, but tries imposing it on others. More so, if one tries to enforce his opinion through use of gun, it becomes terrorism. That is why Islam does not allow anyone to claim to be a know all, and flirt with divinity.
9. If this is the correct definition of extremism and terrorism, then the war against it is our own war, and a just war too. Any misgivings in this regards can divide us internally, leading to a civil war situation. It is therefore, vital that our minds must be clear of cobwebs on this crucial issue.
10. The war against extremism and terrorism is not only the Army’s war, but that of the whole nation. We as a nation must stand united against this threat. Army’s success is dependent on the will and support of the people. So far, Army and the people have rendered great sacrifices in this cause, for which I pay homage to the Shaheeds, Ghazis and their families. However, these sacrifices will be meaningful, if the civil administration is able to administer the affected areas without the Army’s assistance. This may take some time, but it must remain our ultimate objective. It is also crucial that appropriate laws are passed to deal with terrorism. Since 2001, many countries in the world have formulated special anti terrorism laws. Unfortunately, our progress towards such legislation, remained very slow.
11. It is also vital to improve the condition of people living in affected areas. Pakistan Army, in collaboration with the Government, has already completed social and welfare projects worth 25 Billion rupees and is set to complete a similar quantum of work in the next two years.
12. We are fully aware that it is the most difficult task for any Army to fight its own people. This is always done as a last resort. Our ultimate aim is to bring peace to these areas so that the people can live a normal life. But for that to happen, it is critical that people abide by the constitution and law of the land. No state can afford a parallel system of governance and militias. Peace can only be sought in accordance with the principles of Islam, within the national constitution. Peace must be given a chance. No sane person can deny this. Therefore, any pragmatic solution which is within the bounds of constitution and owned by the society at large is possible.
13. You are well aware of the major concerns of common man in Pakistan regarding fragile economic situation, corruption and near breakdown of civic services. These concerns are sapping our will to see beyond the difficulties of daily life. However, the challenge that threatens us the most is preservation of National integrity and unity. We will succeed only when we are ready, united and demonstrate the will to face the challenge.
14. We are proud of our religion and our history. We know that Islam preaches humanity, not terrorism, and that it is the moral authority of Islam, and its truth, that made it a universal religion. We believe in the philosophy and struggle that made Pakistan possible. We must not be doubtful, or apologetic about it. Pakistan is a gift of our forefathers. Our generation has the obligation to leave a strong and prosperous Pakistan for posterity. We will discharge this duty for our children, regardless of the cost. It is necessary for us to understand our responsibilities and have faith that we can do it. I have no doubt that the nation has potential to deliver. We have to resolve our own issues. This is how proud nations do it. No outsider can, or will do it for us. If we want to see Pakistan as a respectable member of the comity of nations, there is only one way to do it and that is to have faith in ourselves, and the resolve that we can.
15. All of us have a share of the blame of our past, some more than others. But no nation has progressed by lamenting the past. We must look ahead if we are to progress. We must learn from the past, build our present and keep an eye on the future. It is time that we stand as one, and prove to the world that we are a vibrant and strong nation with a high sense of ethics and morality. This alone, is worthy of honour. The path is difficult and demands sacrifice, yet it remains the only true path available.
16. Let us, on this the 65th day of our Independence, pledge that we will understand and discharge our responsibilities and also, to pledge that we will sacrifice everything, for the security and prosperity of our beloved homeland. Ladies and gentlemen, the real question is not what Pakistan can do for us, but what can we do for Pakistan. Whatever we are, is because of Pakistan. Without it, we will be nothing.
Let us, on this historic and memorable day, promise that we the people of Pakistan and all national institutions will work to make Pakistan an ideal Islamic welfare state. Insha Allah.
I will end my speech with the prayer that may Allah forever remain the benefactor and protector of Pakistan.
Video: General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani Full Speech at PMA Kakul 13th August 2012
Comments and Analyses
The scope and tapestry of religious extremism
Source: The News, August 24, 2012
Gen Kayani’s speech at PMA Kakul on August 14 repays a close study. The war against religious extremism was our war, he said. This was the kernel of his remarks. It would have helped if this clarity had come much earlier…but better late than never.
Extremism gone wild and threatening to become virulent is our most serious problem, dwarfing all others, including our economic woes. Indeed it is no exaggeration to say that this derangement of the Pakistani mind, expressed in extremism, threatens the foundations of the state.
We survived the loss of East Pakistan. Germany has survived the loss of territory. Russia is still Russia despite the breakup of the Soviet Union. But Pakistan will not remain Pakistan if the havoc being wrought in the name of religion and by religious extremism is allowed to go unchecked. Pakistan was created in the name of religion. Is it to be undone in the name of religion?
And we are still caught up in the debate whether this is our war or not. If this is not our war there never will be a war we can call our own. Imran Khan wouldn’t be able to survive a day in Hakimullah Mehsud’s Islamic Emirate. So what is he talking about?
North Waziristan today, for all practical purposes, is an independent emirate where the Pakistan flag does not fly, where the authority of the Pakistan state, such as it is, is not recognised. And politicians of all hues, from left to right, beat their breasts and shed copious tears regarding drone strikes in this territory whose control has passed out of our hands. The comic sentimentality on which they feed, and whose flag-bearers they are ever ready to be, is equalled only by their tunnel vision.
But mediocre men mouthing meaningless clichés can be forgiven their petty sins. The larger sin rests with the mighty institution now revising its doctrine and entering the realm of second thoughts.
Extremism in Pakistan did not spread through the medium of the stars or the application of cosmic rays. The engine of this growth – and my heart sinks as I write this – was the Pakistan Army, from General Zia to General Beg, with ISI chiefs leading the charge. To our lasting ill luck, jihad was promoted as an instrument of national policy and extremist organisations, whose names we have come to know and dread, were encouraged to set up camp and recruit followers, and spread the message of hate and bigotry.
This policy, if it can be distinguished by that name, was meant as an external instrument – jihad as an extension of foreign policy. But as happens with such things the fallout it created fell back on us, the fallout or blowback proving hotter than the original flames. But this is history and let it pass. Even if late in the day, the ideological re-emphasis – I almost said ideological turnaround – mirrored in Gen Kayani’s remarks on extremism needs to be welcomed.
It should have been the task of the political leadership to voice such thoughts. Gen Kayani’s speech should have come from the president (let’s leave the prime minister alone, he is caught up in other things) or from national leaders-in-waiting. If they choose to remain silent, emphasising the intellectual vacuum that exists in Pakistan today, the army command is not to be blamed if it seeks to fill the void.
And there is no use blaming American visitors for making a bee-line for General Headquarters when they come visiting Pakistan. Taking decisions is one thing. But even if the churning of ideas – or what pass for ideas in this country – is to take place there, then it is obvious that quality time they will choose to spend in Rawalpindi rather than in the vacuous corridors of Islamabad.
Anyway, let’s hope the PMA speech is not just rhetoric but marks a turning point, a change of direction. Even so, we should be clear what extremism has come to mean in Pakistan. It is not just the waves of violence emanating from the independent emirate of North Waziristan. That would be no great matter. The cancer could be isolated and treated (lanced is the better word) when circumstances permitted. But the problem is more complicated than that.
North Waziristan extremism has ideological sympathisers, sleeper cells and a support network, a mosque support network, running from one end of Pakistan to the other. And it is thriving in an atmosphere of radicalisation marked by such incidents as the killing of Shias in Quetta, the murder of Shias in Kohistan.
When the misuse of mosque loudspeakers becomes a national pastime, and the spewing of hatred against different sects an everyday occurrence; when a poor Christian girl such as Aasia Bibi in Sheikhupura is held on a blasphemy charge, setting off a train of events leading ultimately to the murder of governor Salmaan Taseer at the hands of one of his guards, and the guard is hailed as a hero of the faith, and lawyers shower him with rose petals when he appears before a magistrate; when someone in Bahawalpur is held on a blasphemy charge and after being sprung from police lockup is set on fire by an enraged mob; when another poor Christian girl is held on a blasphemy charge near Islamabad; and the Muslim community, which should be moved to outrage at such outrages, chooses to remain silent and do nothing; and when, in a comic interlude, the highest security agencies use clerical windbags to whip up the froth of a false nationalism; then be not surprised if religious radicalisation keeps receiving shots in the arm, and extremism as an ideological force turns into a more poisonous brew.
When the next bunch of Shias is murdered we read it as a newspaper item and shrug our shoulders and carry on as usual. And the call to prayers is sounded and it makes not the slightest difference to our collective conduct.
The kingdom of dread which religious extremism has created is much wider than the geographic confines of North Waziristan. Has America done this to us? Is America the sole agent of our misfortunes? Or, painful thought, did we sow the dragon’s teeth ourselves? And if that was the past, are we not watering the spreading plant even now?
The task at hand, it should be clear at this stage, is much larger than the necessity of any single military operation. Pakistan’s face has been distorted and it is that which must be set right if we are serious about rescuing what we like to call Iqbal and Jinnah’s Pakistan. Our minds have become twisted and a part of them are numb, incapable of feeling and thought, and that is why we choose to keep silent when our hearts should be brimming with outrage.
If we want to emerge from the shadows, into the dustbin of history must be cast the shibboleths and attitudes of our eminently forgettable past. This war now upon us can be won only if the first order of business is the liberation and emancipation of the Pakistani mind.
Practice what you preach
Pakistan Army chief Gen Kayani’s I-Day speech has left some important questions unanswered.
The Army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, has raised some core national issues in an Independence Day address to cadets. Since the military still determines the national security policy, it is important to comprehend his message and, where necessary, to deconstruct it for everyone’s benefit.
General Kayani says “the war against terrorism and extremism is the entire nation’s war” and can only be won if the nation stands united behind the army to win it, failing which it will be faced with civil war. An important preamble of what constitutes a terrorist and what amounts to religious extremism in Islam underlines his conclusion.
All this is true. But the problem is that polls show the “nation” doesn’t think the war against extremism and terrorism is Pakistan’s war at all or that it is a core issue for them or the country. Indeed, as opposed to General Kayani’s definitions, the “nation” unfortunately thinks that notions and expressions of Islamic rage, Muslim honour and religious certainty (intolerance) should be the prime motivating forces of Pakistani nationalism. Consequently, it cannot imagine, let alone believe, that Muslims can kill Muslims, despite the overwhelming daily evidence of Taliban terrorism and sectarian bloodshed.
How and why the “nation” thinks what it thinks is due, in no small measure, to the ideological brainwashing it has received at the behest of the civil-military establishment, via the “ideological” education system and media, in the last six decades in general and from the 1980s in particular when “Islamisation”, “jehad” and “religious nationalism” became the core drivers of the state and the society. Therefore, when General Kayani reminds them that the “purpose behind creating Pakistan was not only to carve out a piece of land but also to establish a welfare Islamic state where the foundation of a tolerant and modern society could be laid… where the life and the property of minorities were safe and they could freely practise their faith”, he should not be surprised why “this agenda could not materialise after 1947” in view of the substitution of the spirit of the Constituent Assembly speech of the Quaidi Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, with the revisions in the constitution of Pakistan by General Zia-ul-Haq.
General Kayani believes the “country is passing through a critical phase in which the biggest threats are religious intolerance, political turmoil and anarchy… In this situation, all our efforts should be directed at improving and correcting our internal situation”. This statement is most welcome not only because it is true at face-value but also because it explicitly identifies and focuses, for the first time, on internal existential threats to Pakistan rather than rely on explanations of external enemies and conspiracy theories of the ubiquitous “foreign hand” in primarily undermining Pakistan’s integrity and sovereignty. But it also raises a couple of more fundamental questions. Are we then to believe that this formulation signals a paradigm shift in the military’s doctrinaire position in which external “Hindu India” is projected as the eternal enemy and Pakistan’s internal (Islamic jehad and Muslim nationalism) and foreign policies (strategic alliances with America, Afghanistan policy) all revolve around this policy? And if General Kayani’s Pakistani state cannot “tolerate a parallel system and military force”, which is a reference to the Taliban who espouse a brand of militant Islam totally alien and opposed to the constitutional political system in Pakistan, why is he ready to put up with militant “sectarian” or “jehadi’ forces or Afghan Taliban in FATA who are equally inimical to the law and constitution and the sovereignty of Pakistan and are rampaging all over the country under the banner of one “banned” organisation or another National Defence Council?
Clearly, there are many contradictions in the package of problems and solutions offered by General Kayani. But this is not his fault. His civil-military predecessors have spent six decades battering at the social, political and moral edifice of the new Pakistan imagined by Mr Jinnah and one statement by him is hardly likely to galvanise his own institution behind him for a paradigm shift in national security policy let alone harness the people of Pakistan to put the pieces together again. But the least he can do by way of practising what he is now preaching is to lend his institutional shoulder to the efforts of those who wish to bury the hatchet with India; those who want to refrain from pushing favourites in Afghanistan; those who seek to make Pakistan a champion of regional peace; those who want to paint Pakistan in the colours of Muslim moderation and tolerance; and those who aspire for international legitimacy and economic comfort in relations with the international community.
Admittedly, this is a tall order. But time is running out and some dramatic initiatives have to be taken by the civil-military leadership to stop the downslide. First, we must fast track our “normalisation” process with India so that a modicum of trust can be built up to lay the framework for an end to the “war of the Intel agencies” that has necessitated a soft policy towards our “radical Islamist” assets at home and Taliban in Afghanistan. Second, we must rebuild the national economy by cobbling a new “budgetary paradigm” in which development expenditures and military expenditures are prioritised according to revised notions of “national power” and international financial assistance is geared to restructuring the fundamentals of the economy to increase revenues, plug leakages, reduce subsidies, emphasise poverty alleviation, mass education, social welfare and self-sufficiency. Last but not least, we must revise our education system and curriculum to reflect the needs of modernity and moderation in all dimensions of social and cultural life.
– The writer is the editor of The Friday Times.
This is not our war? Still?
By Kamran Shafi
August 16, 2012
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto email@example.com
So then, our ‘assets’ have attacked the extremely high security installation, the Kamra Airbase and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex killing one soldier and damaging an aircraft or two. Whilst earlier reports said that one terrorist had been captured alive, we are now being told that all eight, some say nine, have been killed.
If I had anything to do with the investigations, I would certainly look into the matter of the death of the terrorist caught alive, because you see, just like Mehran, I suspect that this was an inside job too.
There is a report also that says all the attackers were foreigners while others say only one was. Be which as it may this only proves the point that there is a collection of terrorists from across the Muslim world congregated in Fata and comfortably embedded with said ‘assets’.
Now then, after all of the attacks this country has suffered at the Taliban’s hands: Kamra; POFs; Sakesar; GHQ; Hamza Camp; ISI buses; Parade Lane; ISI HQs in Lahore and Faisalabad; Moon Market; Marriott; Lahore Cantonment; Mehran airbase; Lt Gen Mushtaq’s brutal murder in Rawalpindi; Peshawar Meena Bazaar and many others, this is still not our fight; not OUR war? Till when will we live in denial, friends, till when will we call these murdering brutes our ‘assets’?
Are things changing though? Is there a fresh breeze blowing? There might well be, considering General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s speech at the PMA, in Kakul. First, kudos to him for clearly stating that Pakistan needed to crush the terrorists without exception. And more for saying all of us are at fault for bringing the country to its present pass. He particularly named the armed forces, read army. He also said, to his credit, that no single institution had all the answers.
Whilst one would have hoped that he had also said that the major blame lay on the faulty strategic thinking of our army brass, e.g., strategic depth in Afghanistan and mollycoddling terrorists of all stripes in the hope that they would help this country face its perceived enemies, I would like to build upon what he did say.
Well, general, this is good and well as our regimental mate Brigadier Ashraf Afridi used to say, now let’s all of us put our shoulders to the wheel and try and get our country out of the morass it is in. For starters, please order the immediate closing down of the media cell in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — ISPR is more than equal to the task — and then open a civilised dialogue with lay Pakistanis on the way forward.
And please, please become less India-centric. I can assure you that if it dares to attack our country every Pakistani will stand by you.
And now for contempt. The majesty of the Supreme Court that comes to the fore every time a prime minister is ordered to appear before it is truly awe-inspiring. Indeed, the alacrity with which PMs have presented themselves (under notice of contempt) before the Court: Nawaz Sharif twice; Yousaf Raza Gilani thrice; Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (the Lord only how many times he will appear), convinces one like nothing else that the superior judiciary in our country is truly superior.
Indeed, this judiciary hanged an elected PM, committing judicial murder, no less. Indeed, whilst Nawaz Sharif escaped punishment while he was PM, he was given a life sentence after the Commando’s coup. And Yousaf Raza Gilani was kicked out of his elected office even though he was chief executive of the country. If this isn’t majesty and superiority all rolled into one, what is?
Which is why, it grates upon one’s sensibilities when uniformed servants of the state either refuse to appear at all, or if they condescend to (as in the one appearance of the DG Frontier Corps, Balochistan), appear in civvies. Perish the thought that any general will be summoned like ordinary PMs.
What brought the subject to mind was the re-appearance of the case of the Adiala Eleven, now reduced to Seven, four of them being tortured/starved to death and their bodies strewn hither and thither. If I recall, the last time we heard about these unfortunates was some months ago when the Mother of All Agencies was forced to produce them in the Supreme Court, and the Court handed them over to the K-P government for safe custody.
This is part of the latest report of the matter in a section of our press: “The Supreme Court sought the record from the intelligence agency’s counsel regarding the seven prisoners of Adiala Jail, allegedly abducted by the intelligence agencies. Appearing on notice, Raja Muhammad Irshad, counsel for the intelligence agencies, told the court that the seven prisoners had been arrested for attacking Hamza Camp of the ISI. He said the cases could not be lodged under the Army Act against former prisoners in the Adiala Jail due to the lack (sic) of evidence.
“The chief justice reminded the learned counsel that the report prepared by the Punjab chief secretary was with the court according to which 11 missing persons were picked up by intelligence agencies from outside the Adiala Jail.
“Raja Muhammad Irshad told the court that they had presented their written reply on the issue. The chief justice commented that it was a serious matter and had progressed beyond just statements.”
Now then, according to the lawyer of the ‘Agencies’, the ISI and the MI, there were only seven people who were ‘arrested’. He has conveniently forgotten that there is every evidence, including a report from the Punjab government (as stated by the CJ himself) that 11 prisoners were taken away by the ISI and the MI from Adiala Jail after they were released by the Lahore High Court, both agencies admitting that they had joint custody of them.
Is this not contempt of the worst kind, to lie before the court in the face of the court? Why does the Court not summon a general or two so that this cruel charade is ended?
I have to end with this link and request the Chief Justice to watch the clip himself from 4:04 to 4:20, just 16 seconds. In it Shiekh Rashid ‘Tulli’ is calling on the CJ to commit murder. Suo motu, any of you, My Lords?
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.
Owning it: Time for the military to step up in Pakistan
By Daud Khattak
August 31, 2012
As Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was declaring the “fight against extremism and terrorism” as his own war at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Kakul (located less than a mile away from the now demolished bin Laden villa in Abbottabad) on August 13, militants were planning two audacious attacks: One against a key security installation in the country’s heartland, and another on innocent civilians in the remote northern areas.
Less than 72 hours after Kayani’s address, which many observers termed a landmark speech because of its tone, wording and timing, nine armed men in uniforms belonging to security forces mounted a daring attack on Minhas Airbase Kamra, located less than 70 kilometers west of the country’s capital Islamabad, on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road leading to Peshawar.
The second attack, more barbarous in nature, was carried out in the Bubusar area of Mansehra district, located around 100 miles north of Islamabad, where armed men wearing military uniforms forced 20 Shia Muslims off a passenger bus and shot them at point blank range.
Responsibility for both the attacks was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the group considered by the Pakistani government to be the ‘bad Taliban.’ Both the attacks were not the first of their kind. The Minhas Airbase in Kamra was the third major attack on a military base since 2009, while the killing of Shias in Mansehra was the third incident of its nature in the past six months.
Over the years, Pakistan’s army and intelligence agencies have been under severe criticism over their failure — and, many believe, their willful negligence — in dealing with the various Taliban and sectarian groups that continue to keep their bases and training facilities in the tribal areas, and spread their tentacles to cities as far away as Karachi and Lahore.
Better late than never
In this context, General Kayani’s statement, given the day before Pakistan’s Independence Day, is of utmost importance. The country’s most powerful man touched the right chord by warning of a “civil war” and calling the fight against terrorism “our own war.”
Aside from falling right before Independence Day, the timing of General Kayani’s statement is significant for a number of reasons: Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington Sherry Rehman and the country’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar have recently openly stated that the days of strategic depth — Pakistan’s pursuit of its interests in Afghanistan by working to install a Pakistan-friendly government, as well as keeping India away from establishing a foothold in the country — are over. Pakistan’s spymaster Zaheerul Islam also held “productive” talks with his CIA counterpart David Petraeus during his recent visit to Washington. And U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, after months of frustrating efforts to convince Pakistan to take action against the militant groups operating on its soil, expressed some degree of optimism by telling Reuters that Pakistan will be launching an operation against militants in North Waziristan.
Is there room for suspicion?
Judging by its wording and tone, General Kayani’s Independence Day statement leaves no room for suspicions about the intention of the Pakistani security establishment with regards to extremism and terrorism. Yet, Sec. Panetta’s latest revelation, despite its optimism, leaves some question marks when he states that the main target of the possible operation in North Waziristan will be the Pakistani Taliban rather than the Haqqani network.
The point in question is: has Pakistan really done away with the ‘strategic depth’ approach towards Afghanistan? If so, what keeps the country’s armed forces from going after individuals such as the Haqqanis, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, (a leader of Taliban fighters in North Waziristan who is believed to have good ties with the Pakistani establishment as well as in close contacts with the Arab fighters), and Maulvi Nazeer (a militant commander based in the Wana area of South Waziristan, Wazir is an anti-U.S. but pro-Pakistan leader, and liked by the Pakistani establishment), instead of chasing the already shattered TTP?
After all, individuals forming the TTP umbrella, such as Hakimullah Mehsud, (leader of the TTP in South Waziristan), Faqir Muhammad, (the Taliban leader in Bajaur tribal agency) Fazlullah (a Taliban leader from Swat who is believed to have escaped into Afghanistan and to be involved in carrying out attacks on Pakistani civilians and security forces from there) and the warlord Mangal Bagh (head of the banned Lashkar-e-Islam) were once overlooked for being the ‘good guys,’ but are now turning their guns on innocent civilians as well as the country’s strategic installations.
Another duplicity that still provides room for suspicion is the freedom of propaganda and movement allowed to people such as Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. The banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief, who is wanted in India for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and is the subject of a bounty put out by the United States calling for information leading to his arrest, is still leading pro-jihad rallies in major Pakistani cities, including the capital, without being stopped or even warned by the authorities.
This kind of willful negligence with regards to people such as Hafiz Saeed, Gul Bahadar and Maulvi Nazeer, as well as groups like the Haqqani Network, is calling the writ of the state into question for ordinary Pakistanis, who have already lost trust in their political and military leadership for a number of other reasons.
For years, Pakistan has been accused of having a double standard regarding its actions against the militants by its allies and neighbors. This is the first time since Musharraf’s era that the world is hearing Pakistan’s top cop owning the anti-terror war in the strongest words, which is refreshing.
However, Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis alike want General Kayani to adopt an evenhanded approach towards all militants. People across the country welcomed the army when they ousted the Taliban from Swat in May 2009, and helped return the displaced people to their houses within a few months.
All of this goodwill was washed away when the army went after the TTP in South Waziristan the same year, though. Nothing resulted from that operation, except the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are still living in refugee camps. The people of the Bajaur tribal agency, where the army launched an operation in mid-2008, have yet to return to their houses. Similarly, the people of Bara district in the Khyber tribal agency have been living under a curfew for the past three years, while thousands of former residents are living in refugee camps with no sign of calm returning to their homes. And the militants are still targeting leaders who challenged the Taliban and raised Lashkars (peace committees) in their respective areas.
Those are the factors that shatter the people’s trust in the state and its security agencies. To win their support like General Kayani wants to do, the political and military leadership need to conduct meaningful operations against all the militant groups in Pakistan, and block the escape routes of their leaders to prevent the repetition of what happened in the cases of Mullah Fazlullah, Faqir Muhammad, Mangal Bagh and Hakimullah Mehsud, all of whom escaped previous military campaigns. Only then will the public come forward and own the war alongside the Pakistani government and security forces.
Daud Khattak is a Pakistani journalist who writes about FATA, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Khattak worked for several Pakistani newspapers in Peshawar and Islamabad as well as for several years in Kabul, Afghanistan.
28th August, 2012
IT was nauseating to listen to some TV commentators ranting about a foreign hand behind the Kamra airbase attack. Some even found vindication of their insane conspiracy theories in a report in an American newspaper that claimed the base may be involved in Pakistan’s nuclear programme. They conveniently ignored the statement of a TTP spokesman claiming responsibility for the daring raid.
It is not just conspiratorial paranoia dominating this narrative; some of these analysts, mainly retired military officials who are now often seen on TV screens, sounded like outright apologists for militants. One retired general declared that after Pakistan’s decision to reopen Nato supply lines, militants might have felt justified under the Sharia in attacking military installations. Instead of condemning militancy, many political leaders joined the chorus of ‘this is not our war’.
What is most troubling is that we are still caught up in this inane discussion about whether it is our war while rising militancy and violent religious extremism are threatening the very existence of this country. These are militants who have declared a war against the state and its people. The only choice before us is to fight or to surrender to the armed marauders who seek to push Pakistan into the dark ages.
Gen Kayani in his Independence Day speech at Kakul was absolutely correct in declaring that the fight against extremism and terrorism is our own war and we are right in fighting it. One cannot agree with him more that no state can afford a parallel system or militant force. But the division among the people on the issue will push the country into civil war.
No state can maintain its sovereignty if it allows armed militias to impose their will on the people through brute force. The policy of appeasement has already cost the country hugely, both in terms of human casualties and its overall impact on society and the economy. Gen Kayani’s speech marked a fundamental change in the strategy for fighting militancy and extremism in the country.
Although security forces have been fighting the Taliban in the tribal territories and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the past several years, the army leadership had maintained a deliberate ambiguity about who the enemy was. Soldiers were motivated by the cant that they were fighting Indian and foreign agents. As Gen Kayani explained, it is the most difficult task for any army to fight against its own people.
Nevertheless, it is also imperative that the people, particularly soldiers, should know who they are fighting and for what. The enemy is from within our own society and not from outside. The fight against militancy and extremism is also an ideological battle, so it is important to shed this ambiguity about who the enemy is.
It is about time we came out of this dangerous delusion of being victims of some foreign conspiracy. These are our own people who are blowing up our schools, homes and religious places. Thousands of Pakistani soldiers have been killed battling the groups which were once developed as security assets. These groups have now turned to jihad inside. Defying the bans on them, they are not only still active, but have also expanded. They are certainly not outsiders but home-grown militants trying to impose their retrogressive worldview through force.
The attack on the base at Kamra showed that militants have regenerated and reorganised despite some setbacks after the military operations in Swat and South Waziristan, and their attacks have become more sophisticated. It is not only military installations that are under attack. Even mosques, shrines and other places of worship are not spared.
The country has virtually been turned into a killing field with thousands of people becoming victims of terrorism and sectarian and religion-based violence. More than two dozen members of the Shia community were pulled out from buses and gunned down in cold blood on the day the Kamra base came under attack.
Although no direct link between the two incidents could be established, the perpetrators seemed to be driven by the same ideological worldview. The sectarian massacre in Pakistan is not an isolated phenomenon. It is intertwined with the rise of the Taliban movement in the country.
More worrisome, however, is the abdication by the government of its responsibility to provide protection to its citizens. Some of the mainstream, moderate political parties have also joined the radical bandwagon, whipping up zealotry for their narrow political interests. Their refusal to support the battle against militancy has helped strengthen extremist forces. What the government and the opposition political parties do not realise is that by giving in to extremists they are digging their own graves. Militancy and extremism present the biggest threat to democracy.
Meanwhile, militants have succeeded in creating a sense of fear. With a weak administration giving in to their rhetoric, they seem to have gained far greater space than their actual public support would imply. They have also been helped by a section of the media to project their extremist narrative.
The continuing selective patronage by the security agencies of some militant factions has also been a major reason for the failure of the state to stem the tide. Gen Kayani has acknowledged that mistakes had been made by all state institutions, including the army, in realising the gravity of the threat to the country’s integrity that militancy poses. One hopes that those mistakes will not be repeated.
It is now a battle to save Pakistan that demands greater unity among the forces who want to revive the vision of Pakistan as a liberal democratic state. And this battle cannot be won through military means alone. It is imperative to defeat the forces of extremism politically and ideologically as well.
The writer is an author and journalist.
General Kayani’s troubled journey
By Khaled Ahmed
The army chief has presided over the most crucial period of Pakistan’s international isolation and is clearly responsible for it
Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani made a surprisingly frank assessment of what was wrong with Pakistan in his Independence Day address at Kakul. He described the state of extremism in Pakistan as a thinking norm, tracing it to religion. Unfortunately his Urdu definition of extremism was not carried in the English language press but it hardly had any effect among those who belong to the Urdu ‘episteme’ or consciousness.
He said that violence sprang from the absolutism (hatmi) of religious exegesis which is intolerant of other Muslims’ interpretation of the same faith. He said no Muslim had the right of absolutist interpretation of Islam which was a creed of universal application. He said: ‘The fight against extremism and terrorism is our own war and we are right in fighting it. Let there be no doubt about it, otherwise we’ll be divided and taken towards civil war. Our minds should be clear on this’.
The army has to fight this war because no one else is willing or has the capacity to fight it after a period of promptings to the contrary from the Army itself
Kayani against extremism and terror:He clarified his stance further: ‘We realise that the most difficult task for any army is to fight against its own people. But this happens as a last resort. Our real objective is to restore peace in these [affected] areas so that people can lead normal lives. No state can afford a parallel system or a militant force’.
Was this a clear commitment on behalf of the Army to fight Al Qaeda and its Taliban and Punjabi affiliates? It is clear that he is the most powerful man in Pakistan leading an institution that dominates the political system as well. It is a myth to say that Pakistan’s democracy enjoys a normal division of powers. The three pillars of the state obey the invisible single pillar, the Army, either openly or furtively, and pitch their politics on the premise of the dominance of the Army.
Deviations from Musharraf’s policy:General Kayani has presided over the most crucial period of Pakistan’s international isolation and is clearly responsible for it. He was General Musharraf’s lieutenant in power when Pakistan became an ally of the international reaction against Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack of 2001. Because of his background he probably had reservations about some non-populist aspects of Musharraf’s anti-terrorism policy dependent on close cooperation with the US. He changed them and catapulted Pakistan into many-sided confrontation.
He allowed his ISI chief General Pasha to sow the seeds of paranoia, creating a national brainwash that is now resisting his changed stance of taking on the terrorists who have not responded to his indirectly pro-Taliban strategy – its sole reliance being on anti-Americanism. His implied intent of taking the war against terrorism into North Waziristan instead of allowing it to unfold in Karachi is no longer acceptable among political parties who once took extremely ‘unrealistic’ orders of another sort in the unanimous resolutions in parliament. His post-Salala posture was populist but unrealistic.
Too late on strategic depth:He is said to have revised his strategic depth doctrine to get Pakistan out of a regional and global bind, with its economy hurtling to an endgame of its own before the American endgame in Afghanistan. He took the wrong decision of presenting the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad as an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty and allowed the ISI to inculcate a misplaced rage against America for having eliminated the greatest scourge of Pakistan. He quietly accepted gallup polls saying Al Qaeda was not a threat to Pakistan.
He took the decision of going to an ‘activist’ Supreme Court to depose against the PPP-led government in the ‘Memogate’ case based on charges of treason entailing possible death to the guilty persons including President Zardari himself. He did not worry too much that the PMLN had joined him in the case to get rid of the PPP government through a conviction for treason. He was insensitive to the implications of such decisions as the arrest and prosecution of CIA contractor Raymond Davis in Lahore, the angry closure of the NATO supply route, and the sentencing of the doctor who had helped trace Osama bin Laden to Abbottabad.
Kayani’s ill-advised populism:His populist strategy was restricted to cultivating Urdu columnists and ignoring the opinion of writers in the English language press. Now that he has changed tack, these Urdu columnists are lining up behind the PMLN in rejecting his possible decision to take on the Taliban in North Waziristan. When he says the Army alone can’t fight the terrorists, it sounds out of place. Most of the fighting will take place against the ‘proxy warriors’ created by the Army during its asymmetrical war with India. The army has to fight this war because no one else is willing or has the capacity to fight it after a period of promptings to the contrary from the Army itself.
The Army has not yet announced to the nation that it has decided to attack North Waziristan. (US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta says Pakistan has committed to go into North Waziristan but not against the Haqqanis.) But the various stakeholders are already opposed to the idea. One retired military analyst said on TV that before going into NW the government should be made to go to the people and get their support. How that should be done is anybody’s guess. One way is to go to the parliament. There, the opposition is already against the operation, based on the past parliamentary resolutions attacking the US and challenging the government to face up to the US with the entire world is lined up behind the superpower.
Fallout from thinking in a groove:No other Army Chief has been praised for keeping out of politics more than General Kayani. It has become a shibboleth for those who want the Army to be supreme in Pakistan. Yet there is talk of the Army orchestrating a ‘pro-Taliban’ electoral alliance behind the scenes to upstage the old bipartisan system. Seeing this, the main opposition party the PMLN has pushed the envelope and clearly opposed any planned attack on North Waziristan. If the hate-America vote is going to be decisive in the next elections the politicians will plump for it, no matter what happens to the people suffering suicide attacks.
No one can know the mind of the most powerful man in Pakistan. The analyst is puzzled by the volte face hidden in his Kakul address. The general himself seems unmindful of the inevitable fallout from his earlier policies which he thought were right for Pakistan. Perhaps he is not to blame. Having an Army that is all powerful despite some appurtenances of democracy, with officers trained to think in a groove, is not a good bet for the survival of a state defying the world while helpless to prevent its internal bleeding.
Will history indict Kayani?With his extensions in service, General Kayani qualifies as the de facto ruler of Pakistan from behind the scenes – or not too much from behind the scenes if you look at the activism of ISI under him. All military rulers have been indicted by history: General Ayub, General Yahya, General Zia, General Beg and General Musharraf. The charge against General Kayani would be based on the practice of populism that hurt Pakistan as an internally troubled state; he repeatedly turned blindly aggressive in foreign policy, only to retreat later.
The charges could be as follows: 1) Trial and release of Raymond Davis; 2) Participation in the Memogate trial; 3) Harassment of American diplomats in Pakistan; 3) Reacting with rage to the killing of Osama bin Laden; 4) Sheltering the Haqqani network; 5) Pursuing strategic depth in Afghanistan; 6) After the Salala incident, blocking the NATO supply route; 7) Not leashing the proxy warriors nurtured by the Army after their alliance with Al Qaeda; 8) Not leashing ISI chief General Pasha; 9) Unleashing Defence of Pakistan’s nonstate actors on a much weakened political system.
15th August, 2012
THERE was much that should be acknowledged, and much that was left unexplained, in Gen Kayani’s Independence Day speech at Kakul on Monday. The army chief made it clear that the fight against militancy and terrorism is Pakistan’s war and recognised that it involved fighting one’s own people. These are important messages; there are still many in Pakistan who think the country is only fighting other people’s battles or that ‘foreign hands’ are responsible for violence in the country. By accepting that this is a Pakistani problem with a Pakistani solution, Gen Kayani’s speech marked a welcome change from the persecution complex and denial of responsibility that so often colours both the state’s and citizens’ discourse on militancy.
What the security establishment has yet to explain, though, is who the enemy is. And that has been unclear since 2001 and the ostensible reversal in Pakistan’s security policy, when it appeared to join the global alliance in what was then known as the war on terror. Is there a reason Hafiz Saeed is able to hold public rallies while Baitullah Mehsud was considered an enemy, as is his successor, Hakeemullah Mehsud? Why are Baloch separatists picked up while the outlawed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi is able to get away with trying to eliminate the Shia Hazara community there? What makes Mangal Bagh a target for the Pakistan military while members of the Haqqani network seek shelter this side of the border? If the different approaches to these groups break down along the lines of militants who act inside Pakistan versus those who could be useful for protecting Pakistani interests in the region or whose targets lie outside the country, the security establishment should by now know better. For one, the activities of potentially ‘useful’ groups have created a host of foreign-policy issues for the country and provided a reason for many outside the counry to turn us into an international pariah. But elements in some of these groups have also turned inward.
It remains true, as Gen Kayani said, that law-enforcement is made more difficult by the weakness of the civilian administration in parts of the country and by the lack of legislation designed to address a new age of militancy. Without modifying the laws that govern admissible evidence and defining clearer rules of trial and detention, it will continue to be difficult to put militants behind bars. But that is only part of the story. The other part is the continuing lack of a clear position against armed militancy in all its forms, and of an outright rejection of the notion of ‘good’ or ‘useful’ militants.