TTP chooses Fazlullah, makes intentions towards Pakistan clear

TTPBy Awais Saleem

It’s official. Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has elected a new chief. In doing so, it has displayed such uncanny clarity regarding its path ahead that it is difficult not to envy it. By choosing a leader who is known for his extremely hardline stance and a personal history of hostility towards the State of Pakistan, they have made their violent intentions quite clear.

If there was any confusion as to what kind of conclusions can possibly be drawn from Mullah Fazlullah’s elevation, the new TTP chief himself has minced no words in rejecting the idea of holding peace talks and making it evident that the battle-lines are drawn. The hopes for a negotiated peace settlement, as some have argued, are thus nothing but daydreaming.

The TTP has given this message loud and clear at a time when Pakistan, despite being torn by terrorism for over a decade now, continues to search for the right kind of narrative – let alone strategy – to combat it. Much of the debate in the aftermath of the killing of Hakemullah Mehsud (Fazlullah’s predecessor) in an American drone strike last week betrays logic. It has only highlighted the disarray with the ranks of ruling elite when it comes to a counter-terrorism strategy while also compounding the existing confusion within the society.

While the soft stance of politicians like Imran Khan, Syed Munawar Hasan, Molana Fazal-ur-Rehman and the likes towards militants is already known, the way they have gone berserk in portraying Hakeemullah and TTP, at war with the State of Pakistan, as heroes, certainly raises alarm bells. These leaders do owe a clarification or two for equating the killing of a most-wanted criminal with the sacrifices given by thousands of innocent Pakistanis and soldiers in this valiant fight.

However, it is the abject manner in which the central government, represented by interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, has chosen to align with these TTP sympathizers that raises the red flag. When a State starts falling prey to populist jingoistic narrative, this can’t be taken as anything else but meek surrender. Half the battle is in the intent, which this government has looked like losing from the word go.

Whichever way one tries to analyze possible reasons for this official posture, it appears mind-boggling. If the Nawaz government is doing it out of the fear of losing the right wing’s support to more radical parties, it is risking the country’s very existence. In case the government believes that burying its head in the sand will save it from TTP, they are again mistaken. Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, holding fort in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has tried it and lost three of its legislators (including a sitting law minister) so far in just four months. Just how they refuse to learn their lessons, despite the TTP giving an emphatic snub to their ‘lovey dovey’ overtures, is a debate for some other time.

Lastly, if the regime thinks that the killing of a terrorist can be used for gaining leverage in diplomatic relations with the U. S., in a replay of hyped reactions after Osama bin Laden’s killing in May 2011, this is as bad a strategy as one can think of. The ethical and legal considerations surrounding drone strikes as well as the violation of national sovereignty are indeed genuine concerns, but how can that be allowed to give credence of anti-state elements is quite perplexing. These are two entirely separate issues and must be dealt as such.

The policy of appeasement has been counterproductive previously, and it is highly unlikely to work in future. Mullah Fazlullah himself played the role of the wrecker-in-chief when a peace agreement was negotiated in 2008 between his father in law, Molana Sufi Muhammad (head of the Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Muhammadi) and the provincial government (Awami National Party) of the time for imposition of Shariah law in Malakand. It didn’t take TTP long in violating the terms of agreement that eventually led to the military offensive in order to cleanse the valley of militant elements.

More recently, Pakistani security apparatus has been raising concerns over Mullah Fazlullah’s activities in Afghanistan, allegedly in sync with Afghan intelligence, to wage terrorist activities in Pakistan. Just days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made his intention to hold talks with TTP, Fazlullah orchestrated the attack in which Maj. Gen. Sanaullah Niazi (G.O.C Swat) was martyred. Prior to that, he masterminded the attempt to kill teenage prodigy, Malala Yusufzai last year.

Thankfully, Malala survived, but the militant ideology that has been so pervasive in today’s Pakistan, owing to these jumbled priorities by the politicians and sections of the media, has continued to thrive. With Fazlullah’s elevation to the TTP throne, this ideological battle has become official. There is no clear answer as to what the result will be, but the initial signs are dangerous and don’t inspire much confidence.

Desperate times, it is believed, call for desperate measures. Present times are indeed desperate for Pakistan but the measures to confront such an arduous challenge are nowhere in sight. Shallow sloganeering and point scoring will serve nobody’s purpose. This war requires immense clarity of thought and impeccable courage to take action. It will not be won by any half measures. But the way things are going, merely calling for a rational approach, sadly, sounds like asking for too much.


4 thoughts on “TTP chooses Fazlullah, makes intentions towards Pakistan clear

  1. good one, but i think Malala is a conspiracy since the day she was attacked, international community showers all on her. there r 100s of Malalas but no one raise voice for them.


  2. You should not write “Soft Stand of Syed Munawar Hasan, Molana Fazal-ur-Rehman”. They are PRO Taliban and they didnt have a soft stand but a very hard stand towards TTP.


  3. Let’s put some facts on the table, just to ensure that they are considered while one is making an argument:
    Fact: Pakistan has been trying root out terrorism with a strategy of confrontation since last 11 years; though few exceptions were made during this course and failed attempts for negotiations were made (We will not go in to debate of causes for the failure of talks at this moment)
    Fact: Terrorists are succeeding because they have public support with them in the battle field (Both in Afghanistan and FATA, but we will specifically stick to FATA only)
    Fact: It is not known that exactly how many terrorists were out there when the war started and if their number has been increased or decreased, but it is well known that they are much powerful, protected and difficult to eliminate then the time when they started
    Fact: Terrorists recruit from ordinary public and they have not run short of raw supplies as of yet
    Assumption: We are debating Pakistan’s interest here

    Now, I would like to comment on each paragraph separately.

    “It’s official. Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has elected a new chief……..”

    We don’t know it yet, as there are reports coming in international media that there is a divide between TTP’s higher ranks on Fazalullah’s appointment as leader; may be because he is non-Mehsud or maybe he is not the most popular leader at all. In any case we cannot deduce that there will be no dialogue until we do it with patience, consistency and sincerity. If I had been TTP, I would have taken a real long time before start trusting the bad guy who betrayed with help of US to martyr my beloved, true soldier of God and brave leader in a drone strike, while we were sincerely thinking of ending the war.

    “The TTP has given this message loud and clear……..”

    Shouldn’t we call it a difference of opinion between the war-mongering, pro US-interests elite and pro-Pakistani, non-enemy of US general public?

    “While the soft stance of politicians like Imran Khan, Syed Munawar Hasan, Molana Fazal-ur-Rehman…….”

    Take out Imran Khan’s name and I agree with you. If you don’t want to take his name out then I would suggest you read his statements. He has never been praising the terrorists. He has been talking about a negotiation strategy that could possibly turn those terrorists and then crush those with full force who are not interested in peace. But before we could possibly do that, we need to isolate terrorists from local population of FATA, otherwise we will keep on loosing soldiers and resources.

    “However, it is the abject manner in which the central government, represented by interior minister……..”

    Did I hear it right – you just said Jingoistic narrative. Yeah, Ch. Nisar shouldn’t, in fact he hasn’t. He is perusing a non-jingoistic strategy, which may not be very popular among some circles, but since he believes that it would work, or at least it is worth trying, then it is good that he has not been distracted.

    “Whichever way one tries to analyze possible reasons for this official posture…….”

    Don’t you think we are narrating many conspiracy theories here; just because we do not agree with government’s strategy to combat with terrorism?

    “Lastly, if the regime thinks that the killing of a terrorist can be used for gaining leverage …..”

    I agree, if they are making hue and cry just to use it as a leverage, they won’t get any results out of this.

    “The policy of appeasement has been counterproductive previously, and it is highly unlikely……….”
    “More recently, Pakistani security apparatus has been raising….”
    “Thankfully, Malala survived, but the militant ideology that has….”

    Fazalullah, being dispensable, can be killed for you. But we are on our way to bring peace, so let him be part of it or he may happily get isolated and later on killed too. Let me narrate a conspiracy theory here: what if Hakimullah was killed deliberately by US and Fazlullah, despite being an alien to Mehsuds, was forced leader by the people who don’t want peace in Pakistan. Don’t you think they will succeed in changing public opinion by creating fear of the MONSTER FAZLULLAH. It is a fact that I forgot to mention earlier that this was the first time in this war’s history that all political parties unanimously agreed to deal the terrorism with negotiations and entire general public, except few “Liberals”, was supporting the decision. So according to my conspiracy theory this could be a deliberate and well calculated move by enemies of peace.

    “Desperate times, it is believed, call for desperate measures. Present times…………”

    What if clarity of thought and courage is already there, but strategy is totally opposite to a popular western narrative which is I believe not even popular in west anymore except the government. Afterall, a strategy, well debated and then unanimously agreed upon by the representatives of 180 million people is worth trying when all other strategies have failed to yield any substantial results.


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