Monday, September 23, 2013

The war in FATA - a tribesman's perspective

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Warrior Tribesmen but Peaceful Pakistanis
FATA tribesmen have a long history of resistance against oppression and invaders which tells us how they always reacted to aggression and use of force – from Babur’s massacre of Bajauris in 1500s to the fate of British military campaigns in 19th & 20th centuries. However, the same fiery tribesmen who kept the Mughals & the British on toes throughout their rule were tamed by a peace + humbleness gesture of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. At the Bannu Jirga with Jinnah in 1948, tribal elders from all FATA tribes voluntarily announced accession to Pakistan. Tribesmen did so inspite of opposition of Jamiat-e-Ulema and the propaganda of "Azad Pakhtunistan" and "Loy Afghanistan" by the erstwhile Congress-allies.
Jinnah trusted the tribesmen's loyalty; announced withdrawal of armed forces from FATA and designated the tribesmen as defenders of the 1000 km long border with Afghanistan.
The tribesmen and their homeland FATA (from Waziristan to Bajaur) remained peaceful from 1947 till 1979. Although the law used to rule FATA i.e. FCR was a draconian one and although the bureaucracy in charge of FATA was the most corrupt in the whole Pakistan, the tribesmen seldom caused any trouble.
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The American-Sponsored 'Jehad'
Then came the year 1979. Afghanistan was invaded by Soviet forces and millions of Afghans migrated to Pakistan, most settling in the tribal areas. An international campaign led by United States was launched to root out Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Funded by CIA (yes the good-old CIA) and Arab Sheikhs; the Afghan, Arab and other fighters were trained and dispatched to Afghanistan to fight the RED BEAR. Tribesmen were told that this 'Jehad' against the bad infidel invaders (Russians) was ‘Farz’ and that the Arab/Afghan fighters were Mujahideen and the tribesmen's Guests.
Tribesmen believed what they were told by the pious Sheikhs, the good infidels (Americans) and their Pakistani front-men. The tribesmen took part in the war against Soviets and finally dispatched the bad infidels across Amu.
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History comes Full-Circle with 9/11
From 1989 to 2001, the world forgot Afghanistan, Pakistan, FATA and the mess the world had jointly created. Then one fine morning (or may be evening) the tribesmen were told that their guests were actually international terrorists responsible for 9/11 and that they needed to be handed over to the good infidels (who ironically were now invaders of Afghanistan). 
The tribesmen were confused (rather shocked) as to how the invasion of Afghanistan by bad infidels was bad and that the same act by good infidels was now good. 
No serious effort was made to convince the tribesmen about the changed ground realities of the world and of the post-9/11 New World Order.
Confused, the tribesmen refused to hand over the 'guests' to Americans for dollars. However, they assured the authorities that tribesmen would ensure that the guests don't cause any trouble & remain peaceful. Pakistani authorities had other compulsions though; a supply of long-awaited dollars was on its way from western capitals, via IMF, Paris Club, London Club, World Bank etc. Nobody intended to kill the egg-laying chicken & be deprived of the eggs ($$$) in future. Therefore, military operations were started in the area to keep the flame burning.
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FATA on fire
It was South Waziristan's Wazir-dominated area of Wana / Shakai where the first military operations (post-9/11) were carried out by the military. It was again South Waziristan where the killer birds known as drones commenced their killing spree. In 2004, Commander Nek Muhammad Wazir who was in peace deal with Pakistan Army (remember that General Safdar embrace pic going viral?) was killed in the first known drone strike. This single act of breach of trust gave such a boost to militancy that the conflict, largely restricted to Wazir areas of South Waziristan, soon spread to the Mehsud areas and then to neighbouring North Waziristan.
Then came 30 October 2006; when a drone strike in Cheenagai (Damadola) area of Bajaur Agency killed 83 kids at a religious school.
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Oct 30 2006: Tribesmen gather around the charred pieces of flesh of 83 kids (wrapped in cloth sheets) killed in US drone strike in Cheenagai village of Bajaur Agency, Pakistan
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Though Pakistani military tried to claim responsibility for the attack, it was revealed soon that the strike was actually by a US drone.
Till this moment the militant attacks had been limited to resistance against army operations in FATA only. Army or police elsewhere were not brazenly attacked on a large scale. However, Cheenagai drone strike led to the biggest revenge attack against Pakistan Army in Dargai on 8 Nov 2006 when a tribal suicide bomber killed 40+ soldiers during their routine drill.
Thus Cheenagai drone strike caused a paradigm shift in militancy in FATA as militants started spreading their activities recklessly. Each military operation and drone strike served as a booster for the militants and by 2007 the whole FATA, from Waziristan to Bajaur, and also Malakand Division were raging with militancy.
In late 2007, after the Lal Masjid misadventure, the scattered militant groups sat together leading to foundation of the umbrella group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
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Thus started a chain reaction of killings and counter-killings; some justified, most collateral.
Drones / military operations killed thousands in FATA (not discriminating between militants and common tribesmen). In reaction, suicide bombers killed thousands in Pakistani cities (not discriminating between security forces and civilians).
Both sides engaged in a vicious cycle of violence, with non-combatants being ones losing the most.
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Back to Stone Age and Revenge
Drones, fighter jets, helicopter gunships, heavy artillery, tanks (and bulldozers too) did what they normally do; DESTROY life.
Entire villages were raised to ground, their inhabitants were made homeless; shops, schools, orchards, mosques were destroyed and FATA was literally sent to the Stone-Age
The indiscriminate use of force, both by Pakistani military and the Americans had exactly the effect that could be imagined by any sane mind; given the tribesmen's centuries old history of resistance to any oppression. Every collateral death gave rise to a dozen militants and the chain reaction started. Foreign agencies also started capitalizing on the popular tribal resentment against Pakistan's state. Fuel was added to fire by the notion that it is Americans who fund every bullet and artillery shell fired in FATA by the military (via Coalition Support Fund reimbursements).
Indoctrinated suicide bombers blinded by their revenge instinct started hitting every icon and symbol of Pakistan's authority, from pro-Pakistan tribal elders to police, FC, Army, Airforce, Navy (and later everything).
Stereotyped tribesmen; biggest victims of the War
While everyone in Pakistan sees the deaths in suicide bombings through the media's eye, the original sufferers i.e. the tribesmen remain away from the limelight. Their sufferings are taken for granted and their pains considered a fruit of their own sins. But is that all? Can an entire region of 4.5 million people be stereotyped like that?
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Though there are no confirmed statistics about the tribesmen killed, disabled, injured or displaced due to drone strikes and military operations; even mild local estimates put the death toll in the thousands. Similarly thousands of houses, shops, orchards, schools etc have been destroyed over the past decade or so. There are areas where kids have not gone to school for years now. There are no hospitals, no electricity, no telephones etc etc.
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Such a great number of extra-judicial killings / casualties and such a vast destruction in any other part of the world would have rocked the international media scene, however, poor tribesmen seldom get a sympathetic view in the Pakistani or international media.
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Shakira: A Pashtun girl who was burned beyond recognition by a U.S. drone (some reports say PAF jet) and left for dead in a trash can. Full report about Shakira here
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The dominant narrative in media is the one that portrays us, tribesmen, as blood-thirsty wild man-eaters who don't want a peaceful living, who do not need schools for their kids, who do not need hospitals for their diseased, who do not need jobs for a living and who kill for the sake of killing (which BTW is not true at all).
There are three major reasons for this flawed narrative on FATA.
  • A section of media (albeit a powerful one) is strongly biased in favour of the American narrative about the War Of Terror.
  • All news of killings of militants and the supposed effectiveness of drone campaign come from anonymous sources in the American or Pakistani establishment / intelligence. Such news are at best as much neutral as was German propaganda in WW-II.
  • Nobody has access to the affected areas and independent media has never been allowed to see or reflect real facts about the drone campaign and sufferings of tribesmen in true sense. The local journalists mostly toe the line given by their media houses or military or militants.

Neither the UN nor the Pakistan Govt nor the western-funded NGOs nor the so-called human rights activists nor the liberal twitter gurus ever tried to sympathize with us tribesmen, to hear our woes, to offer us a helping hand, a healing touch of sorts. Nothing, never.
BTW whenever we tribesmen hear the ‘liberals’ cry over excesses committed on Baloch people by ‘Deep State’ or their silence w.r.t Karachi's Mafia Qaatil Movement a.k.a MQM, we wonder if we are not humans too? Why nobody ever sees our sufferings? Is human rights a selective phenomenon? A Pashtun tribesmen being killed illegally by drones / operations is okay but a Baloch being killed is human rights abuse?
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Imran Khan: the lone voice
PTI Chairman Imran Khan is probably the only mainstream political leader who doesn't only condemn this senseless war but also proposes talks for a peaceful solution to the war. We are proud that its our leader Imran Khan who is doing what the civil society, the custodians of law and justice or the pseudo-liberals should have been doing. And guess what? Let alone do something themselves, the liberals & most Laptop-based ‘FATA affairs experts’ in the media & intelligentsia have the guts to challenge and bash Imran Khan over his views & efforts in this regard.
- BTW is Imran Khan 'Taliban Khan' as the liberal fascists love to call him or is he a 'Jewish Lobby agent' as the Mullahs call him? Well he is none. In fact Imran Khan is what an overwhelming majority of the 180 million Pakistanis are i.e. a peace-loving moderate Muslim who hates all shades of the War of Terror, be it militants or drones.
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What Next?
So the 10 year long War of Terror brought Pakistan some bitter fruits:
  • Nearly 40,000 Pakistanis killed and as many injured (including almost 6000-7000 Security Forces personnel)
  • Loss of nearly 70 Billion dollars to the already fragile economy
  • Nation split between hard liners; religious extremists on one side and liberal fascists on the other (both bent at destroying futures of 180 million moderate Pakistanis)
Keeping these facts in mind, the next logical question is "What next"? This is one question that none of the warmongers (religious or liberal extremes) seem to be bothered about.
Wars are ultimately decided on talks tables and if talks fail once, more talks must follow. This is the only solution to war.
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Pakistan's Dilemma and Next Generation Tribesmen
Is status-quo acceptable in this situation? Can Pakistan afford to lose another 40,000 citizens (may be more) and another 100 billion dollars over the next 10 years? If not, and surely not, then we have to act NOW.
This issue needs to be debated and talks need to be commenced as soon as possible (with a time frame off course). If talks fail or militants put forward unacceptable conditions, a carefully crafted but resolved operation needs to be carried out. However any debate / talks / operations must be aimed at ending the sufferings of Pakistanis especially the tribesmen (and not solely for American interests).
Do whatever you have to but do it NOW and do it SWIFTLY. Dilly-dallying this issue will only bring more misery to all sides (the common tribesmen & Pakistanis foremost).
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Caution: 10 years is too long a duration for a people to endure suffering & not become savages. Almost 3/4th of the 4.5 million tribesmen have suffered displacement at some point in last 10 years. Thousands of tribal families from Bara, Tirah, Bajaur, Mohmand and South Waziristan are living in IDP camps since many years.
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Have the fascist liberals or their beloved ANP / PPP politicians ever cared for them? No. Instead they ate all funds meant for them. How many of the 24/7 blood-seeking 'FATA affairs experts' visited these IDP camps even once or supported the tribesmen living in pathetic condition there?
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A whole generation of tribesmen is growing up in these below-human-standard IDP camps; with no homes in own country, no education, no health, no social status, no peace and perhaps with no love for Pakistan. The only feeling they are growing up with is REVENGE.
So the most pressing open-ended question for all (especially liberals & media warmongers) should be:
Is Pakistan ready for this next generation of suicide bombers?
I rest my case.
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The writer is a tribesman from Bajaur Agency (FATA)and tweets at @PTI_FATA (no official association with PTI)
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Disclaimer: This blog is not an official PTI webpage and is run by a group of volunteers having no official position in PTI. All posts are personal opinions of the bloggers and should, in no way, be taken as official PTI word.
With Regards,
"Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf FATA Volunteers" Team.


18 comments:

  1. Where do jihadis fit in all this? The local and foreign religious extremists that were strategic assets of the army. The various sectarian terrorist groups. And what about the tribals killed by Taliban? If its all a tribal revolt, why do militants kill tribals?

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  2. Excellent analysis ...

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  3. is this a justification to all suicide bombings in public??

    how many victims are there of the drones? 5000?10,000?? naah..
    what abt those 50,000 people died in suicide bombings,imagine if they start acting brutaly too,every victom taking weapons n starts killing,what our future will be..but they don't becz they have some sense of humanty ..

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    1. That's the thing. We try our hand at the killing game. Now, at the end if we lost more people, it doesn't make up right. It just means we were fighting a much motivated group than ourselves.

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    2. It is not the justification for suicide bombing, It is a reminder to the people of Pakistan that for financial and strategic gain you have used the tribals. and now that they are fighting and will fight till the end can you afford it. The better way would be through dialogue to find a solution to disarm the militants by addressing their grievances. And we must clearly distinguish the difference between sectarian terrorists and aggrieved tribals. Military operation must be part of the strategy but only for those who are reluctant to give peace a chance.

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  4. n why these drone victom rebels are here to kil quite few swlwcted sect and one big sect has full imunity?? no bombings even in their gathring of millions?? ... u still think its reaction to drones that instead of killing to army,high oficials, they target quite selectiv sects or reliogion ?

    wake up man..
    n who says tribal people like these TTP agents?

    admitt it man,you have that much infiltration of international militants in tribal areas,whom even those people don't like.. ask some person from tribes,they ll tell u the facts..

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    1. And the lashkars who are killing the few selected sects are based in South Punjab (jhang), why a military operation is not conducted in any part of Punjab. These chauvinists will break this country once again.

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  5. i was such a big suporter of PTI .. but u know with time now i have startd realising that u guys just can read n write things well (as u written this long story justifying someones bad inhuman acts)..

    seriously,u gonna fail soon if u continued this way..pitty u

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    1. you are not a supporter of anything but a big looser. we in PTI can write things but you cannot read things for sure.
      you are gonna fail with all your options for mil operations like US et al, and Russain did for 30 longs years.

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    2. Hahaha. New form of propaganda. "I was a pti supporter but now I think zardari or NS are better". Lol.

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  6. Am an urdu-speaking Karachiite & have since the beginning, when the destruction of my brothers & sisters in FATA started, worried about their welfare. I thank you for highlighting the unimaginable misery, which shamelessly isn't done in the mainstream, at least not with the intensity that it should! Shame on all the pseudo-liberals & those knowingly obfuscating!

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  7. Majority of Pushtuns do think that If Pak Army had wished they would have eliminated TTP long ago. Pak, Army acts on their percieved National Interests Pak Army is willing to scapegoat civilians jawans and Army officers for some National Interests. PTI policy is also wrong. PTI policy should be full fledged war again TTP without affecting local Innocent people. But before that strop drones and isolate those who are violent just because of Drones. separate groups which donot agree with TT P. its difficult to eliminate TTP until they are considered ''Assets", We need change in GHQ,

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    1. That is ptis policy. The policy is not to surrender.

      The policy is to weaken the enemy which has a very weak organisational structure which is riding on the common man's misery. Assure the locals of progress and resolve grievances. The tables need to be turned on the foreign elements, not by force but through politics.

      And ultimately, crush the remaining few who are against the state.

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  8. Peace is essential, but remember this TTP is being hijacked by foreign elements without the knowledge of its foot soldiers, and thats what makes this peace process dangerous even foolhardy ............ I would personally like the peace as the tribesmen are our biggest weapon of islamic ideology and jihaddi apparatus, which is essential against india who we cannot face or injure in conventional warfare tactics. And specifically peace is essential if we are ever going to kick india out of afghanistan, and use taliban to protect pak interests and our western borders. If we achieve internal peace we would be free for our interference in afghanistan with the help of taliban. Recent attacks by TTP, are by proxy of Indian Raw, who know the consequences of peace in pakistan for them in afghanistan. Remember guys for the greater good, control of afghanistan and its govt is essential now that american are leaving and only and only India is the ENEMY.

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  9. "The on-going insurgency in Afghanistan is Jihad", IK once said. If one start believeing in what IK said (which most PTIian do, without giving a second thought), then what is wrong with what taliban have been doing within Pakistan. Comeon!!! What is bad in killing over 81 christians in recent Peshawar blast. PTI should congratulate taliban for doing holy duty of jihad in Pakistan.

    I AM FROM FATA TOO AND THEREFORE I AM A MODERATE TRIBESMAN, BUT I AM NOT A TALIB...SO PLEASE DON'T GENERALISE FATA FOR TALIBAN.

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    1. Your sarcasm is painful.

      You quoted IK out of context. He said that the Afgh Taliban consider themselves as liberators and are fighting against US for their own freedom. Do you disagree?

      And you should also know that leader of TTP Afgh is Mullah Omar, a very close ally of pak army/gov.

      So what IK said is actually in line with public opinion and policy of the army.

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    2. Its jehad in afgh because they're fighting for freedom. Its terrorism in pak because they are killing due to religious differences rather than a national ideology.

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    3. Gentleman: Afghan Taliban never fought for their freedom. During Cold War they fought on behalf of USA with guld money and now they are fighting on behalf Pak establishment.

      Second, even, for the sake of argument, if I agree with fighting for freedom by afghan taliban , then the same argument can be used to validate the fighting .of Pak taliban too. an oppressor is oppressor, whether he is of USA or Pak. And calling back securities forecs from FATA means, you presumed the same security forces as oppressors too..SO?

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