The government led by Mr Zardari’s party can be questioned for giving in to the establishment’s pressure by surrendering its authority and responsibility regarding foreign policy but to blame it for anything wrong with the foreign policy, including the war on terror, is misleading
Imran Khan claims that there were no suicide attacks in Pakistan before the US drone attacks and Pakistan Army operations in FATA. This is factually wrong. Suicide attacks have been happening before the US drone attacks and/or military operations in FATA. One of the deadliest suicide attacks was on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad in 1995. The other devastating suicide attack, also known as Karachigate, was on French engineers in Karachi. Both attacks have nothing to do with FATA, its people, culture and the US drone attacks or the Pakistan Army operations in the area. The attack on the Egyptian embassy was carried out by al Qaeda Arabs and the other attack is said to be revenge from the French authorities over a dispute about kickbacks in a French submarine sales contract with Pakistan. The French investigators have also been investigating al Qaeda linkages to the attack.
The suicide attacks rooted in FATA began to happen in Pakistan after the ISI implanted the jihadi infrastructure in the area through fake military operations that killed innocent civilians but left the Taliban unharmed, and peace deals that slipped the area into the hands of the Arab, Uzbek, Punjabi and Pakhtun militants. The last ethnic group of the militants, the local Pakhtun, were also strengthened through awards of development contracts, including those funded by western donors, to the relatives and friends of the Taliban.
In other words, the Pakistani state surrendered its internal sovereignty by design to the terrorists in FATA, some of whom are conducting ‘unauthorised’ attacks inside mainland Pakistan in response to their disputes with the their handlers in the intelligence agencies of Pakistan. But several of the attacks inside Pakistan, such as those on the ANP workers and leaders, should be seen as ‘authorised’ attacks to keep the Pakhtun nationalist party under pressure and above all to cut it off from reaching out to the people while at the same time keeping the field open to right-wingers like Imran Khan and the religious parties to reach out as much as they wish to spread the strategic depth propaganda. The ANP is an anomaly in the calculus of strategic depth. Imran Khan is clearly guilty of distorting the facts when he claims that the ANP wants negotiations with Taliban. As far as I understand, the ANP does not want negotiations with the Taliban but is forced by the establishment through acts or threats of terrorism to compromise such as on the occasion of the Swat peace deal.
Imran Khan is also playing fast and loose with the truth when he blames President Zardari for the way the war on terror is conducted by Pakistan. Everyone knows that the Pakistani generals are running the country’s foreign policy. The government led by Mr Zardari’s party can be questioned for giving in to the establishment’s pressure by surrendering its authority and responsibility regarding foreign policy but to blame it for anything wrong with the foreign policy, including the war on terror, is misleading.
Imran Khan’s claim that the Pakhtun tribes have successfully resisted world powers in the past is a misleading sweeping judgement. One really has to go into history to see that the real situation is not so black and white. For example, it is true that certain tribes or clans in FATA put forward an excellent resistance to the British, but is it not also a fact that many other tribes, clans and even people within the tribes resisting the British, cooperated with the colonial power? How were the British able to establish the FCR system in FATA if all tribes were united against the British? The tribesmen joined the British Imperial Army, the paramilitary forces established by the British, and became Khasadars (tribal police force) in the British administration in FATA. The tribes, clans and individuals who have been closely cooperating with the British were never eliminated through massacre by the other tribesmen who were resisting against the British even after the departure of the colonial power. This is unlike the Taliban who have massacred anti-Taliban tribesmen across FATA. In other words, what we see in tribal history is pragmatism in relation to foreign powers rather than an exclusively violence-driven resistance across the tribes.
Suicide attacks in Pakistan cannot be a tribal response to the US drone attacks. The US drone attacks on FATA intensified in 2008. Before that there have been only a few drone attacks on the area since 2004. Bu the suicide attacks inside Pakistan had intensified before 2008.
Imran Khan is running a propaganda for the so-called ‘civilian casualties’ in the drone attacks but has not uttered a word about hundreds of anti-Taliban tribal leaders target killed across FATA since 2003. The government of Pakistan never investigated those targeted killings and will never do it either as long as the generals dominate Pakistan. Do the families of these tribal leaders not deserve justice? But Imran Khan, I am afraid, will never raise his voice for justice for these families because any independent investigation into those assassinations will establish the establishment’s deep links with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Such an investigation will also elaborate the ISI tactics whereby it has been able to trigger an artificial insurgency in FATA and convincingly present it to the world as the popular tribal backlash to Pakistan’s alliance in the war on terror.
Imran Khan highlights the violation of Pakistan’s external sovereignty by the US drone attacks, but never points to the violation of the country’s internal sovereignty by foreign al Qaeda and Taliban militants based in FATA who are carrying out attacks inside Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan on the US, NATO and Afghan forces as well as Afghan civilians. Their attacks across the border are causing the drone attacks, most of which have actually targeted the foreign terrorists in the area rather than the Taliban. The internal violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty has to stop before one can demand a stop to the external violation.