Those in Pakistan who believe that terrorism in Afghanistan will have no disastrous consequences for Pakistan are not only wrong but actually the enemies of the people of Pakistan
The last two speakers in the ANP-convened jirga in Peshawar were Mian Iftikhar Hussain, provincial minister, and Afrasiab Khattak, provincial leader. Referring to the exclusion of women from public life in FATA, Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that this is neither part of history nor the tradition of the area, which is full of examples and the practice of women’s participation in public socio-cultural life. The exclusion, he said, is a consequence of the engineered misogyny and socio-cultural backwardness systemically injected in the area for the sake of its use for strategic objectives. The women are and will be much more represented in the ANP political setup in FATA, declared the minister. Their wider participation in socio-political life of the area will be part of FATA incorporation in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which he said is a key objective of the ANP’s political agenda that the party will never give up.
Mr Hussain said that peace could be achieved by two means: negotiation and military operations. In FATA both have been tried but none succeeded because both have been conducted aimlessly. The operations have not been targeted and the negotiations with the terrorists (Taliban) have been secret and the tribes and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government never had any clue about what was happening in the negotiations. He said that besides Pakistan, the US and Afghanistan have also been separately entering into secret negotiations with the terrorists with no declared framework of negotiations and declared teams of negotiators. Such negotiations are bound to fail because they are a mere facade to camouflage the promotion of vested interests of one of the stakeholders to the total exclusion of all others. For negotiations with the terrorists to succeed, there are two pre-conditions: one, the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan must bridge their strategic differences in the region, and two, there must be an agreed framework for negotiations by the three countries, and publicly declared teams of negotiators from all sides — the three countries and the terrorists. Negotiations following these pre-conditions can succeed and the minister said as a mark of goodwill for such negotiations, he would forgive the blood of his only son to the terrorists, who brutally killed the young man.
Mr Hussain added that if the terrorists did not give up violence following such negotiations, there have to be targeted military operations against them. He also said that peace in Afghanistan is closely interwoven with peace in Pakistan. Those in Pakistan who believe that terrorism in Afghanistan will have no disastrous consequences for Pakistan are not only wrong but actually the enemies of the people of Pakistan.
Afrasiab Khattak said that historically all armed resistance in FATA against foreign aggressions have basically been nationalistic. People with a religious outlook, who were fighting against the British in FATA, had cordial relations with the movement of Ghaffar Khan, a Pashtun nationalist movement. The Taliban, whether in Pakistan or Afghanistan, exist nowhere in this context of belonging to the soil. The so-called Afghan jihad, Mr Khattak said, was basically an American jihad. He reminded the jirga audience that at the outset of this jihad the former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (1977-1981) travelled all the way to Kurram to address the so-called Afghan mujahideen on the edge of the Durand Line, where the US advisor urged the mujahideen to launch jihad against the former USSR.
An American Jihad
At that time Ghaffar Khan and Wali Khan had been urging the people of Pakistan to stay away from the US jihad, which was being promoted as a great Islamic cause by the then government of Pakistan. The Pakistanis who supported the US jihad should now go to the graves of Wali Khan and Ghaffar Khan to offer an unconditional apology for their support of the US jihad in Afghanistan.
Mr Khattak said that the root cause of terrorism in Afghanistan, FATA and Pakistan is the strategic depth policy of Pakistan. FATA is a bridge in this policy that ensures that Pakistanis enter into Afghanistan to engineer strategic depth in that country. The policy, implemented since military dictator General Zia’s time (1977-1988), is being followed to date and causing terrorism in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The people of FATA have nothing to do with the centre of terrorism in FATA except that they have been devastated by the terrorists based there. Nobody in FATA invited the foreign jihadis and the Punjabi terrorists now controlling the area. Instead, they have imposed death and destruction on the tribal people.
Mr Khattak paid tribute to the large number of ANP workers in FATA who have been killed by the terrorists for their association with the nationalist party. Most recent among them is Fazal Hamid, ANP leader from North Waziristan, who had been kidnapped and killed by the North Waziristan-based terrorists. Mr Khattak informed the jirga that the terrorists offered Fazal Hamid to spare his life provided he agreed to announce dissociation from the ANP in a press conference. Mr Hamid, according to Mr Khattak, said he would never abandon two things: Islam and the ANP. Consequently, the terrorists killed him.
Mr Khattak said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is incomplete without FATA as it is an integral part of the province. Traditionally, the people of FATA have two homes, one in the mountains (FATA) and the other in the plains (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). Those who demand a separate FATA province want to deprive the people of their homes in the plains. He declared 2012 as ‘FATA Year’ during which the ANP will do all it can to highlight the FATA issue on national and international public forums. He also said the ANP will arrange meetings of FATA delegations with President Asif Zardari.
This jirga in Peshawar is an important public display of the ANP’s policy on FATA. The Pakistani media, in line with its pro-strategic depth orientations, gave only nominal coverage to this event. Nevertheless, it seemed to have caused some panic among the backers of the strategic depth policy, which was evident in the pro-establishment political parties, such as the MQM demanding a separate province in FATA. From this jirga it seems that the fundamentals of the ANP’s Afghan policy, as well as the wishes of the people of FATA, are clashing with the strategic depth policy of the military establishment of Pakistan. Let’s see how the two sides deal with each other. One thing seems clear though: the ANP would be facing more attacks from the ‘strategic assets’, the Taliban, as well as the pro-establishment political forces in Pakistan.
The writer is the author of Taliban and Anti-Taliban