“An archer letting off an arrow may or may not kill a single man, but a wise man using his intellect can kill even reaching unto the very womb.”
–Chankya Vishnugupta Kautilya
When the national policy planners embarked on this dangerous, unknown and unchartered course in 2002, they never war gamed the plans through. Rather than wisdom, opportunism and fire fighting prevailed. This created too many loopholes for the enemy to exploit. To paraphrase Stephen Cohen, Pakistan was engaging moving targets from an unstable platform.
Politicians in Pakistan wanted the army to be engaged for an indefinite period till exhaustion for two reasons. First keep merry making and secondly appease NRO masters. However from 2014, the events took a positive course mainly because of two army chiefs in succession that refocused attention to address multi directional attritions in the psycho-social and socio-economic fabric. Therefore as the process of healing wounds becomes effective, new threats are being created.
Militancy had grown from the sprouts of the so called Afghan Jihad. These nomadic elements stood disowned and found sanctuaries in uncontrolled expanses of Afghanistan and FATA. Pakistan buying the dirty US linen meant that volunteering to fight foreign militants and their accomplices. In the prelude, these elements fighting the Afghan War had decimated the system and put everything at the mercy of armed groups. Once the entire social fabric of FATA and some parts of Pakistan was being re-engineered with violence and destruction of tribal structures, the state being a bystander was complicit.
The plans that unfolded in 2002 were military centric with no complementary policies to handle and overcome the negative spinoffs. The political government comprising turncoats lacked the intellect and knowledge to handle such a situation. This continuously led to defining new frontiers and dysfunctional sociology inflicting deep scars of instability.
Ever since the advent of NRO sponsored democracy, there has been no effort to neither identify nor address these issues causing insecurity in young minds thereby exposing them to destructive foreign dynamics. There has been no national counter terrorism policy.
In a seminar sponsored by Qaid E Azam University in 2002, Dr. Khalida Ghaus put it empathically and bravely. By entering the conflict in the manner it has, Pakistan has chosen a very dangerous course with disastrous consequences. The social dynamics of the conflict will come to haunt the federation.
Pakistan had unwisely fired the shots without due diligence of the societal effects of such conflicts. There was no Social Action Plan to win the hearts and minds of the people in a conflict perpetuated by US pressure. Back then, I termed Operations Enduring Freedom as a War of Hate that shall tear part Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In case of Pakistan, it was never militarily possible. Therefore, Pakistan was to be subjected to primarily non kinetic offensives. Political governments since 2008 have been callous in forestalling and handling these crises because their major preoccupation has been, one looting and plundering and secondly, playing to their masters.
Sixteen years hence, having passed through various gradations of instability, Pakistan is where it is. Of particular note is a Pashtun Movement sponsored by two main political parties ANP and PKMAP to whom ethic identity is more important than the national identity. Of late, the ever swinging Fazal Ur Rehman has also joined the group, stalling all efforts at FATA Reforms.
COAS General Qamar Bajwa has bravely admitted that Pakistan is fighting a Hybrid War, something I have repeatedly described as Operations by the enemy other than war (OOTW).
The period from 2002 to 2014 proves that Pakistan was only vaguely aware of this hybrid offensive when munitions of subversion embedded themselves in the national fabric. Unrestricted Visas, missing containers and creation of US sympathisers in form of rights activists, pseudo liberals, media and co-opting sub nationalists elements were all pincers of such an offensive. To compound matters, successive governments have avoided putting Pakistan’s economy on a firm footing. A point has reached that Pakistan is now societally vulnerable and economically dependent. In this sea of dysfunction and ever emerging instability the only elements that hold the country together are the armed forces and the judiciary, an explanation why these two are repeated targets of vested interests. Therefore it is time that parties of federation step forward aggressively and snatch away thunder from foreign sponsored movements on the pattern of Mukti Bahni, LTTE, TTP and MQM. Each one had Indian backing.
Cognisant of Dr Khalida Ghausia’s Thesis, in a series of studies culminating in Pakistan’s Future War, a hypothetical scenario framed by me suggested that the biggest threat to Pakistan would come from its exploitable internal vulnerabilities piling since 1947. The worst cut has come in Eighteenth Amendment bringing unregulated devolution. My argument is that when a state cedes too much space to non-state actors and misuse what it has, the consequence is logical. Successive regimes failed to act in time, rather traded exclusive spaces for opportunism. This is collective megalomaniacism. As an opinion maker, I have always been warning of such dangers.
An unrelenting flow of external and internal narratives/counter narratives have confused the Pakistani public. The ability and knowledge of the public and intelligentsia who frame opinions is limited. People lack the intuitive grasp to perceive situations that affect their collective lives. Consequently, there exists a wide disparity in what people are made to perceive and what facts are. The country at large is in a blind. Nation: Crises of cognition December 15, 2014.
There is a Chinese saying by Sun Tzu, “If you know yourself and your enemy, you need not dread the result of a thousand battles.” But what would one say about a political culture that neither knows itself nor its enemy? Does it merit the credentials to govern a country whose pressing problems evade it, where escapism is a political stratagem, where megalomaniacs with soft ears bask in the aura of courtiers while nincompoops spin yarns with splendid abandon? This is a political culture unwilling to learn, research or debate. Nation: Divided and disconnected January 03, 2015.
Not only wars but conflicts across the entire spectrum are competitive in nature. A modern nation state is a creation of this conflict and can only integrate when its diversities are bonded by complementary interests. This is called nation-building. Nation: Sociology of Conflict March 04, 2017.
The current decade of democracy has been the most destructive in Pakistan’s chequered history. It has brought a complete collapse of organs of the state that include parliament, executive as extension of the ruling legislature, governance, transparency, accountability, regulators and economy. The entire deconstruct is highlighted by lack of ethics, corruption, jobbery, nepotism and cult worship to perpetuate a corrupt rule. Nation: Saturation of political incompetence October 28, 2017.
Economic hitmen occupy every sinew of Pakistan. They are well placed in businesses, cartels, bureaucracy, political parties and NGOs. It requires a high suction vacuum cleaner to plug them out. It’s a task easier said than done. Nation: Old McDonald’s farm of hitmen, March 31 2018.
But the state has begun to reassert its writ. Following successful operations by law enforcement agencies, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had begun to assert itself. Panama provided the precursor. NAB had opened many corruption cases against corrupt elites. The caretaker government in offing has the opportunity to take this reclamation to the next step. SBP, SECP, Competition Commission, FBR, NEPRA, and OGRA ought to get depoliticised.
All works for reconstruction and rehabilitation in FATA should be released and executed through the armed forces.
Last but most important, education has to be reverted as a federal subject. HEC will then be able to regulate universities and ensure education institutions do not become hotbeds of subverting minds.
Defeating narratives is most important.
The writer is a political economist and a television anchor person.