The scenario and the timings are a case study. Our Prime Minister has just concluded one on one talks with the American President and his spokespersons in the foreign office have gone blue in the face telling us how fruitful the talks were. While the American President tacitly signaled a go ahead for the peace talks, the drone strike that targeted and killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the TTP, is another story in a game that has no visible end and over which we seem to have no control. A family from NWA is in the US to talk about how there are civilian casualties too in the drone attacks which have come under severe criticism from human rights groups in both Pakistan and the US. But just at that time a drone is used with exact precision to kill Hakimullah, his number two and 4 others about which most Pakistanis react positively.

It also happens just one day ahead of the day the political team is to go to NWA to initiate the peace process. The need for dialogue too gets blown to smithereens with this attack. Has this attack happened with the silent approval of the Pakistani authorities? Are there two different postures for private and public consumption? It is not quite clear whether all the parties are on the same page on this because the dust has not fully settled. Moreover, what is the Army thinking and planning? Can it now, while there is some disarray in the rank and file of TTP, go for an all out attack and clear the land of this blighted menace once and for all? Or will peace remain a distant dream for us? I fear for the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who voted for peace with the most passion and who are being denied it with such terrible vengeance.

Danday Darpa Khel, the small village with a musical name, which has become the well-known stronghold of the militants in NWA is now known internationally. Small places like that and the quiet, sleepy city of Abbotabad where Osama hid have had their calm and tranquility destroyed for ever along with the targeted attacks on them. Their names are now stuff of stories.

We just get to hear over the media, ever so suddenly, about a major development that has taken place on our soil which also, consequently, has implications for us. Be it Raymond Davis or the Osama drama and now the killing of the TTP leader. As citizens who had reconciled to an attempt for peace through dialogue this is a set-back and we now have to be fully cognizant of the fall-out of this action. While there is no doubt or disagreement over the fact that the swashbuckling Hakimullah was no friend of Pakistan’s and had owned up to many dastardly acts of killing innocent people, it is worrying as to what exactly the revenge capabilities of TTP are.

The death of a terrorist, the killings of civilians, the waging of a violent war, are all consequences and not answers to a problem. The entire recent history of our land and its strategic planning needs to be viewed and introspected honestly. The idea of Pakistan was the correct one but its face has been mangled and destroyed beyond recognition. It has become clearer over time that TTP is not a unified entity but a loose coalition of different militant groups who have different strategies and aims – but with an overall objective of getting hold of power to implement its version of the sharia law in Pakistan. One outcome that is possible after Hakimullah’s death is that there will be a leadership battle which will weaken the coalition from within. Time will tell whether this will become a turning point in our history.

 It is also a time when the month of Muharram is upon us reminding us that we have to be strong and unflinching in the face of imminent danger for the sake of all that we believe in. And today is also when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returns from London where he held talks with the British officials and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. I am sure he is finding it difficult to keep pace with events as they are unfolding with developments every day that make the previous day so irrelevant!

Post Script! The acquittal of ex President Musharraf by the courts in the Lal Masjid case is a positive development in my opinion. The fact remains that the great majority of us, including those who were in the forefront of the restoration of the judiciary movement in 2007, fighting for the supremacy of the rule of law and such like (in our innocence), generally supported the idea of an operation on Lal Masjid. It was a horrific thought then, that a place in the centre of Islamabad could be a sanctuary for arms and militancy and that a burqa clad posse of vigilante women wielding sticks could choose to take the law in to their own hands wherever they fancied.  (The will to transform the whole world to their medieval way of thinking seems irrepressible among the militants, apparently). So, while there may be so many other things that Musharraf did that one may not agree with, the action that he and his colleagues did take to purge the Lal Masjid of extremists was supported by the majority of Islamabad’s citizens and his acquittal in this case is just.

The writer is a public relations and event management professional  based in Islamabad.