Today, Pakistan is in the grip of such a band of idealists called apologists, who defend militancy, favouring appeasement to a just retribution towards those who don’t cower or hesitate while targeting the innocent.

Comprising of people from all walks of life, including prominent political and media figures, these apologists consider the presence of foreign forces on Afghan soil as root of all evil, declaring militancy as a religious struggle, while condoning the killing of forty thousand Pakistanis at the hands of militants and their terrorist cohorts.

Militancy poses an existential threat to our national integrity and to combat it, we need to put these apologists on defensive by challenging their false ideals, and cleansing our collective thought of all doubts and misconceptions, about militants, their cause and objectives. After getting rid of this misplaced sense of apology and guilt, we would be able to undertake concrete counter militancy measures.

The first argument, on the basis of which, many apologists defend militancy, is that TTP and it’s leadership are engaged in a holy war, fighting for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate. This misperception became evident with many declaring Hakimullah Mehsud, a martyr. Truth is TTP and other such militant groups are terrorists, who are waging an unjust war against our state, and financing their struggle through extortion, kidnappings and banditry.

Their adherence to Islamic principles are clear from their tactics. In Islam, end does not justify means. Even in a war, there are high ethical standards that have to be maintained. In the light of teachings of Prophet (PBUH), first Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (RA) pronounced rules of engagement declaring, “ In the battlefield, do not commit treachery, or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees... You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.” If this has been the way of Islam, than how can Taliban justify their war by indiscriminately targeting muslims, non-muslims, women, children, and places of worship.

The second misconception, apologists are selling to the masses is, once US withdraws from Afghanistan, insurgency will taper off. According to this thinking, militancy in Pakistan is somehow linearly related to US presence in Afghanistan. The fact is outside forces can trigger a major change in a society, but its cause always lie within the system. A fact explained by system dynamics, according to which all behaviours and changes within a system are endogenous in nature, can at best be triggered externally, but their cause and nature will be determined by the system structure.

In other words, American invasion might have triggered militancy in tribal area, but it’s real cause is the system failure, something which is apparent in deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi and Baluchistan, where terrorism has nothing to do with American presence in Afghanistan. Therefore, US withdrawal from Afghanistan might not put an end to insurgency, and any Taliban victory in Afghanistan might embolden their affiliates on this side of the border.

According to the third notion, Taliban are worthy partners in a peace dialogue. For any meaningful peace effort to succeed, participants must demonstrate seriousness by undertaking confidence building measures. The keenness and seriousness of Taliban is explicit from the election of a ruthless militant commander, as their new chief, who took over, vowing to take fight to Punjab, attacking security forces and government installations.

Lastly, the fourth wrong belief is that peace talks between government and militants is a bivariate function. In reality, the tribal area is a hodgepodge of numerous elements domestic and foreign, with conflicting interests. In presence of so many actors, it is extremely difficult for any meaningful peace effort to succeed. Failure of previous peace agreement in FATA, and recent American drone strike resulting in killing in of Hakimullah Mehsud, demonstrate that there are forces beyond control of Pakistani government and TTP, making a peaceful settlement highly improbable.

It is time for us to stop defending an unjust war waged by militants, and must accept that the struggle in FATA is a manifestation of power politics and has nothing to do with Islam or sharia. Peace is inimical to TTP’s ambitions and US withdrawal might not put an end to insurgency. Peace cannot be achieved through apologies and entreaties and we will have to confront this blight sooner or later. Appeasement emboldens the evil, as servile beggary may get a momentary respite, but at the price of resilience, which is essential for a nation’s survival. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “ Nations which go down fighting rise again, but those who surrender tamely are finished.”

The writer is a freelance columnist and has worked as a broadcast journalist.