Editorial: March 2013
Give Peace a (belated) Chance
Dr.Rasheed Hasan Khan.
With elections around the corner and the US poised to commence its ‘withdrawal’ from Afghanistan in 2014, the political parties in Pakistan convened an All Parties Conference on 28 February 2013, in Islamabad in a belated bid to restore peace to the war torn FATA and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Pakistan’s ‘man for all seasons’ Maulana Fazal ur Rahman and his party, the JUI are the prime movers of the APC this time. Except for Imran Khan’s TIP, thirty organizations i.e. all the parties in the political spectrum and various other groups attended this conference. This was the third exercise in the series that commenced in 2008, the second APC was held in 2011. As expected, the Communiqué embodies pious resolve and good wishes, similar to the communiqués issued in the past, which were lost in the morass of inertia that afflicts the political scene. The people of Pakistan can only hope that this APC is able to break with the past and achieve something concrete.
Surfeit of propaganda and disinformation over more than a decade past make it necessary to reiterate certain facts related to the question of War and Peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
(1) The Violence, Terrorism and War in Pakistan generally and FATA and Khyber Pukhtunkwa in particular is the direct spillover effect of the US agression and occupation of Afghanistan( 2001-13).
(2) The disastrous, blind pursuit of US Agenda by the Musharraf regime aggravated the violence and terrorism in Pakistan, leaving no options for redress.
(3) The US strategy was aimed at a greater involvement of Pakistan and other countries neighboring Afghanistan in the war. Hence the familiar ‘Do More’ and exhortations to expand the war fronts within Pakistan.
(4) The US was implacable in its opposition to any attempt at engaging the religious extremists and blatantly sabotaged any and every attempted dialogue.
(5) The US’s insistence on the continued use of Drone Warfare in Pakistan lead to very negative results despite the targeting of a few notorious extremists.
(6) The ‘Taliban’, as a monolithic political and military force representing religious extremism, is a myth largely created by the US. A recent study revealed that there are more than 1000 groups fighting the US in Afghanistan and Pakistan, they occupy the whole range of the political spectrum and some are not even political elements.
(7) The US military strategists used up all the available strategies in the book with nothing to show for it. This goes to show that it is man and not technology or weapons that determine the course of history.
(8) The much hyped about ‘withdrawal in 2014’ must be seen with a critical eye. The construction of new facilities and revamping of old ones shows that the US is perhaps clearing the clutter and removing redundant personnel. It is definitely not abandoning its occupation of Afghanistan or policy goals in the region.
(9) The Pakistani establishment’s predilection for patronage of religious extremism has pushed Pakistani society into the dark ages. Bigotry, intolerance and genocide have become the norm today. For today and the future this is an important factor that merits attention.
(10) More than six decades after the creation of Pakistan, the ruling classes’ insistence on continuing the colonial legacy in the shape of FATA and PATA (Federally and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas) with its attendant economic, political and social backwardness is an important factor in the present situation. In the absence of Rule of Law, the most backward elements in the social formation will gain ascendency through brute force.
(11) Without exception, people on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border and the country in general are weary of the decade long bloodshed and destruction. Thousands have been killed; hundreds of thousands have abandoned their hearths and homes and become strangers in their own land. Their material losses are beyond computation.
The time has come when the Establishment, the government and those who claim to represent the people, the present Parliamentarians and future hopefuls, shake off the yoke of indifference and strive to find a way out of this impasse. But this can only be possible if there is a single minded dedication to the cause of Peace and Progress of Pakistan and the courage to resist foreign dictation.