Posts Tagged ‘Taliban’

People who change their Shaheed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Time has changed in Pakistan; yesterday victims of suicide bombing were mentioned as “Jaan-ba-Haq” but today Pakistani media call them “Shaheed”.

Yesterday, a Pakistani soldier who died while fighting with Talibans was a “dead” to Pakistani media but today they mention him as “Shaheed”.

Yesterday, for Pakistani media and for so called leaders, Army was killing its own people in FATA but today they stand behind Army and praise its actions.

In 2003, same army launched a similar military operation in same Waziristan’s same capital city – Wana – against same Talibans to fight the same War on Terrorism, but then those who were killed (i.e. Talibans) by Pakistan Army were “Shaheed” for many. And our soldiers who lost their lives they were just “were killed” for us.

It’s funny to see that same so called political leaders and so called “vibrant” media is supporting Pakistani Army today who opposed similar military actions in past.

Who are these people who change “Shaheeds” with the time?  Would they ever admit if they were wrong yesterday or they are wrong today?

I wonder if we had saved any lives, if we have had prevented any suicide bomber, if we have had not seen any incidents like GHQ if – AND ONLY IF – all these people had supported “Wana operation” in 2003 and made it a success.

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War on Terror – Part 1: Public support in Pakistan

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

 Pakistan decided to align with US after 9/11 and became the frontline-state in War on Terror. We were (probably) aware of the fact the war in the neighboring country – Afghanistan – will affect Pakistan as well, however, we did not anticipate that this war will become our own war. A war where our own security forces will be fighting against militants in our own country, where our northern areas will go under control of Taliban; we did not anticipate the type of insurgency we are facing today, the type of terrorism where suicide bombing becomes a regular act. There might be million reasons today to criticize our U-Turn in foreign policy at that time but most of us agreed to the same in 2001 – though there was disagreement on how it was done and to what extent it was done.

“War on terror” never became popular within Pakistan and it never got any support from public. Even today, when our security forces are almost in the state of war in FATA and NWFP, there is significant opposition to military’s role, including political and religious parties, media and civil society.

War Against Islam (or Muslims):

One of the main reasons for people not supporting “war on terror” is the concept where people believe that this is America’s war against Muslims – or to be more precise, against Islam. This concept is strongly projected in Pakistan – and believed in northern side of Pakistan and among religious parties and groups. Many journalists and analysts also project the same idea though not as strongly as they used to in early days of war – in 2001.

Wars have a long history; wars have been fought in almost every generation in almost every country in the world. Reasons for wars could be from revolutionary to demographic, from behavioral to sociological, from rational to economic and from political to strategic – but none of these reasons is religion. No war in the history has been fought for religion or against a religion.

In the documented human history of over 4000 years, one of the first wars, “Battle of Kadesh” (1375 BC), was due to a conflict over city of Kadesh between Egyptians and Hittites. “Wars of Diadochi” (323 BC) were a series of wars fought for control over Macedon. Even in Muslim history, “Battle of Badr” (624 AD) was not a battle against a religion – Islam; it was due to Mecca’s strategic trading route to Syria that Muslims could interfere with and did interfere with at that time. “Battle of Uhud” (625 AD) and “Battle of Trench” (627 AD) were also not against Islam (or Muslims), these were against a force that was emerging, a force that could challenge – and was challenging – Meccans at that time. These wars would have been fought against any force that could have challenged Meccans authority at that time – it just happened that this force was Muslims. “Battle of Mu’tah” (629 AD) was against Byzantine Empire over killing of Muslim emissaries by tribes under protection of Byzantines.

After the death of prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Muslims fought a series of wars against apostasies –known as “Ridda Wars or Wars of Apostasy” (632-633 AD) – these wars were also political in nature rather religious. Muslims fought (632-750 AD) against Byzantines, Persians, Arabs, Indian and stretched their empire from Northwest India, Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Southern Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula, to the Pyrenees; none of these wars was against any religion or its followers and neither Muslims intended to conquer these empires to spread Islam. All motives behind Muslim conquests during that time were either political or strategic or conflicts over certain non-religious issues and Islam (or religion) was never a motivation.

Another series of wars that is often referred as religious wars is “Crusades” (1095 – 1272 AD). Crusades were mainly fought against Muslims and the fact they are called religious because these were launched by Pope Urban II with a goal to conquer “Jerusalem” and the “Holy Land” back from Muslims. This was after Muslims conquered “Jerusalem” (and Christian’s Holy Land) in 1071 AD and when Byzantine emperor called for help from Western Europe. Pope called upon all Christians to join the war, promising that dead would receive immediate remission of their sins – the same motivation that USA gave to mujahidin during soviet-afghan war and same motivation that today Al-Qaeda (or Taliban) gives to its fighters.

However, the reason European countries supported the crusades was not the religion or Islam or Christianity or the capture of “Jerusalem” by Muslims, it was these countries’ political and strategic interests. These counties feared Muslims knocking at their doors after conquering Romans (Byzantines); they went to help Byzantine Empire because after Byzantines’ defeat Europe would have been next Muslims conquest. European countries, for their own interests, sold a religious motivation to people making them join the war; this was very same what USA and Pakistan did during soviet war, when they called “mujahidin” from all over the world in the name of “jihad”. Religion was used in the very same way in crusades (precisely in First Crusade) and in soviet war in 1980s to attract warriors. If conquest of “Jerusalem” and the “Holy Land” was the reason then it was conquered in 1071 AD (not in 1095 AD when first crusade started) and it was first conquered by Muslims in 638 AD.

Cutting it short, in old times – even couple of centuries ago – there were no countries but only empires. There was no international boundary between these empires but only the power, control, authority or rule. For political, geographical or strategic interests, these empires used to wage war on each other and the weaker was defeated, surrendering its cities to victorious. No empire waged a war on any other just because they had a different religion unless there was a political, strategic or geographic interest.

 “War on terror” is also not against Muslims or Islam but it’s about strategic interests – of USA (mainly). It just happened that USA strategic interests, for now, are in those countries where Muslims are in majority.

We need to understand that not everything we hate is against “Islam” and neither everything we admire is “Islamic”. We need to understand that Nations are not based on religion today but a country identifies a nation – geographical boundaries separate different nations into different countries and not the religion.  If we were a Nation based on our religion – Islam – then Muslims countries would not have been fighting with each other – in Middle East for example; Pakistan did not have strained relations with Iran and Afghanistan; Bangladesh would not have been parted from Pakistan; Muslims in India would not have called themselves as “Indians”. Conflicts between Muslim countries are due to their political and strategic interests – and religion is placed behind.

Going of the topic, we cannot relate everything to “Islam” or project as “Islamic” – for example our Nuclear Bomb. We usually entitle it as “Islamic bomb”, can we confirm that we will not use it over Indian Muslims if – hypothetically speaking – a need arise against India? Can we confirm that we will not use it if Pakistan goes in war with another Muslim country (let’s say Bangladesh or Iran?) and needs to use its nuclear technology – again hypothetically speaking? The answer is No; we cannot confirm that it will not be used against Muslims (or Muslim countries) if a situation arises. The only territory where it cannot be used (or we can confirm not to use) is Pakistan; no matter what people live there and no matter what religion they have. That makes it “Pakistani nuclear technology” – that is irrespective of religion – and not an “Islamic Bomb”.

America’s War:

Another reason for not supporting “War on Terror” is that many of us see it as America’s war – though they may not believe that it’s a war against Islam (or Muslims). These people do not see Pakistani forces, fighting against militants, defending our own territory but they see it as a war that Pakistan is fighting on America’s behalf. An argument that is often given to support this view is that if Pakistan did not have aligned with USA, then we would not have been fighting militancy in our tribal areas and NWFP. It is also said with strong voices that abandoning support to USA would help to reduce the militancy and to stabilize our troubled areas.

Let’s say Pakistan would have decided to stay away from this “war on terror” in 2001 and would have continued to support Taliban – or would have decided to play neutral by abandoning the support to Taliban as well – then what would have been the situation. In that case – being very optimistic – Taliban still would have used our tribal areas as “safe heavens” after being pushed out from Afghanistan; USA – for not achieving its objectives in Afghanistan – would have used its own forces to remove these “safe heavens” and have considered Pakistan as Taliban ally – and the consequences are not hard to imagine; Taliban would still have been spreading in our settled areas. In a nutshell, US would have been doing all this to us that Taliban (or militants or Al-Qaeda or whatever) are doing to us now – may be worst. Pakistan would have been a battlefield between Taliban and USA as it is becoming now – the only difference would have been that we were seen as aligned with Taliban rather than rest of the world.

On the other hand, if we abandon support to this “war on terror” now, we will be inviting USA to come and get us while Taliban are already inside our territories and doing as much damage as they can. We need to understand that our security operation against these militants is not for USA but for Pakistan itself. If we don’t do it then a) we are letting Taliban to take over our territories b) we are inviting NATO and USA to come and invade our territories c) we are making Pakistan a battlefield for Taliban and USA.

Having said this all, today after 7 years in war on terror, many of us have started to realize that these militants (or Taliban) are not innocent people, they are not doing “jihad”, they do not want “sharia law”, they are not sincere to Pakistan. Today, military operations in troubled areas are not opposed as much as they did 4 years ago – like Wana operation. Today, we have realized that there are foreigners who actively participate in Taliban attacks in Pakistan. But there is still enough opposition to military operations that these operations cannot lead to a success in these troubled areas.

No matter if we have said “no” in 2001 or if we say “no” now to USA, the situation in Pakistan would have been similar – if not the same. That’s how wars in neighbours affect the countries – like soviet-afghan affected Pakistan in 1980s.

Conclusion:

Summing up all; we, Pakistani, need to:

          think that war on terror is not a war against Islam or Muslims – there never was – so it should not be opposed only because it is being fought against Muslims – and we are Muslims,

          understand that military operation – if and when its required against militants – should be supported by public as they are for our own interests – I wish we would have understood this when “wana” operation was launched and today we would not have lost our territories to Taliban,

          look (at least) at Pakistan’s firepower verses USA firepower and Pakistan economy verses USA economy, before asking for another U-turn in our foreign policy  – wars are not won by emotions and neither economies running on debts can pay for wars.

What Next:

Writing this all I do not mean that our official policy on this war on terror is on the right path – though I will write about it and our political forces in coming parts of this discussion. Pakistan need to align its foreign policy based on its own political, regional and strategic interests. This might get a bit tricky – I think it already has – to define a policy that serves our own interest but at the same time does not have any (major) conflicts with interests of USA in this region.