Farrukh Khan Pitafi On August 23, 1973 a man walked into a bank in central Stockholm and took the people present there hostage. The hostage situation lasted for six days during which the captives instead of despising their captor started showing signs of loyalty towards him and his friend who joined him shortly. This process of indoctrination, that brought such an astounding shift in the captives' perception, was later dubbed as 'the Stockholm Syndrome' by scholars in the field. While the above robbery may not be too old the Stockholm Syndrome is perhaps as old as the history itself. In extreme situations, the mortally threatened victims impressed by some simple acts of kindness, ideational indoctrination or at times even a good work of oratory readily inhale the propaganda of their assailants. In Pakistan too, a news channel recently reported from the first IDP camp that a pair of twins born there were named after Mullah Sufi and Mullah Fazlullah. For those who think that the war there has been fought and won, this manifestation of the Stockholm Syndrome may come as a surprise; but in reality its prospects have always been too rational. The question then arises what was the point of waging the war against the terrorists if the result was further proliferation of militancy and extremism? And, through deduction, was this war necessary? As someone who has vociferously advocated against the benighted worldview of the brand Taliban, I have no doubt that this war was absolutely necessary. Human rights abuses are hardly new but if someone uses a perversion of faith to justify them in a religiously rooted society, it is akin to introducing a spark in a huge dump of explosives. Add to it the fact that the Taliban in Swat had shown every intention to extend their territorial control continuously and you realise what havoc could be wreaked in a country fighting for its soul. However there are umpteen aspects of this war that can be debated. A few days after the start of operation Rah-e-Rast, TV anchors were invited to the PM house for an interaction with the prime minister. The main focus of the prime minister's talk was the government's 3 R (Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction) strategy. The question that I asked the chief executive of my nation was regarding the 2 Cs namely Consistency and Contingency planning. Regarding the former there is absolutely no doubt that this federal government has a huge deficit of consistency as it keeps flip-flopping on very important national matters. Consider the issue of the restoration of judges, first the PPP leadership signed the Bhurban Declaration, then vowed never to restore the chief justice and finally under duress restored him. Likewise, first against all sane advice, it cut a deal with the extremists in Swat, then brought it into the Parliament, then all of a sudden the military operation was launched. It was two days after the commencement of the operation that the PM came on TV and announced it and an All Parties Conference was convened to build consensus even after that. A consistent policy would have witnessed slightly different sequence of events. As for contingency planning it takes no rocket scientist to understand that any military operation would cause considerable displacement. In fact since in the mountainous areas sounds of blasts generate echo, the number of displaced persons is usually expected to grow. Yet curiously enough both federal and provincial governments never saw it coming. No wonder then that the PM was not chuffed about my remarks. Yet the state of denial is bound to lift one day. In case it ever does perhaps then the government would lend its ears to reason. There indeed are numerous operational issues including the inexperience and lack of capacity in fighting low intensity insurgency on the part of our army and the administration's inability to view all Taliban affected areas, including FATA, in holistic terms. Yet let us focus here on the humanitarian aspects of the operation and the fact that it is absolutely imperative to win hearts and minds while securing territory from the terrorists. Here we need to appreciate one subtle fact of life. Darkness does not have any physical existence of its own; it is the name of mere absence of light. The easiest way to get rid of the dark hence is to switch on the light. Likewise while it is commonplace to claim that the Taliban's version is nothing more than a perversion of Islam, let us hope that we also believe in it. If we agree that it is nothing more than that, it naturally flows that there too exist a true set of Islamic principles that negate this retrogressive and reductionist worldview. May I ask how much government resources are being dedicated to find and perpetuate such disarming principles? It is imperative for the states the world over dedicate considerable amount of resources in such pursuits. If today we do not find our own administration taking any particular interest it is because we have not been able to get rid of political adhocism. Similarly the military has been in government for so long that the politicians seem content at having outsourced all critical defence matters to the army. Yet it will have to change for war is too serious a business to be left to the generals. The first need of the hour is to counter the propaganda with propaganda. If at a point in time it was realised that shutting down Fazlullah's radio station was proving impossible, the administration should have inundated the local populace with radio transmissions to counter Fazlullah's propaganda in same dialect. It was never done. Similarly thanks to the callousness of our successive governments the pulpits of the country's uncountable mosques are being used as the vehicle of the terrorists' propaganda. A counter-propaganda campaign focusing on the mosques and the religious class is in order and this cannot be done by challenging their worldview but discrediting the terrorists as a cultural other and if possible a cultural antithesis. Something deserves to be said about General (retd) Pervez Musharraf's anti-terror campaign. While many of his strategic decisions seem correct in retrospect it is worth noting that he lost the battle of hearts and minds. In fact the campaign to portray him as a westernised liberal meant to win the west's approval returned to these shores in quite a garbled form. Add to it the habit of shooting the mouth with characteristic apathy and you find how it helped in substantiating the countrywide negative perceptions. Consider this: when asked to reflect on the brutal way in which many young Pakistani were killed in containers immediately after the US invasion of Afghanistan, he shot back: "Did I ask them to go there?" Military operations cause a lot of pain and suffering which despite being inevitable can be healed through a sensitive healing touch of the leadership. The country's leadership however needs to appear at the top of things and not struggling against any US or foreign pressure. A well planned strategy to win over the hearts and minds with the help of the media, the religious elite and the intelligence community can work wonders in healing the Stockholm syndrome. The writer is a talk show host and columnist