Thursday, January 30, 2014

Terrorism Mess in Pakistan (Part-4) - Way Out of Terrorism Mess

By: Shah Zalmay Khan
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In part-1 of this article, I discussed the origin of FATA's terrorism war and why North Waziristan operation is not a good idea. In part-2, I discussed the various players in this militancy game (the militant groups). In part-3, I discussed the strengths of militants and the State's weaknesses. Now we can move towards the solution part i.e. the way out of the militancy mess.
Note:
Part-1 of this blog is HERE.
Part-2 can be read HERE.
Part-3 can be read HERE.
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Part-4: Way Out of the Terrorism Mess
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The mess in FATA / KPK (and Pakistan in general) has been created over a period of decades (accelerated exponentially since 9/11). So it is at best ignorantly naive (and at worst criminally insane) to expect the solution to be a simple or straight-forward one - like operation in one agency of FATA i.e North Waziristan.
Counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency are a science today; there are 'Best Practices', SOPs, DOs and DONTs. In our peculiar context, countering the ideological aspect of militancy (war of minds) is perhaps much more crucial than tackling the martial aspect (war of weapons). So any strategy to neutralize the militancy must focus on ideological neutralization most. In my opinion, the way out should consist of three essential steps:
1) Prepare ground for talks (to neutralize the ideological confusion).
2) Hold talks sincerely, without any external pressure (and in the meanwhile build capacity of the State's security apparatus).
3) If talks fail (with some or all groups), go for use of force (with consensus & full preparation).
However, even before these 3 steps are taken, the govt MUST (I repeat MUST) ensure that Afghan refugees are sent back to their country. Do NOT (repeat do NOT) expect any solution of this war (peace talks or operations) to be effective without going for this absolute pre-requisite.
Coming back: Now I discuss each of the 3 steps in detail.
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1) Prepare ground for Talks
This step requires extreme seriousness and sincerity from all sides (especially the govt). A step by step approach in this regard will be helpful.
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a) Deprive the militants of their ideological high-ground:
In order to this, the govt should ensure that US drone strikes are stopped (by actually pursuing the case - not playing double game like in the past). Also NATO 'military' supplies from Pakistan should be stopped. (Though their may be economic implications but that should be an acceptable price for PEACE)
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b) Appoint a 'Dialogue Jirga' (with reps of govt, militants and mediators)
An 8-10 member govt team, 8-10 member militant talks team and 8-10 mediators should be appointed to form a 'Dialogue Jirga' for conduct of peace talks.
The govt reps may include parliamentarians, military/police officers, bureaucrats.
The militant reps may include representatives of various militant groups (from Swat to Waziristan).
As for mediators; Pakistan is lucky to still have several personalities who are respected across the board - from govt to public to militant circles - and their services can be utilized as mediators. These may include national heroes like Dr. AQ Khan or Abdul Sattar Edhi; some personalities generally trusted by both sides e.g ex-CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry, General Hameed Gul etc; some revered Ulema like Justice Taqi Usmani, Mufti Rafi Usmani, Maulana Tayyab Panjpir Sheikh and Maulana Tariq Jameel etc; some Saudi Ulema like Imam-e-Kaaba and others; some religio-political leaders like Maulana Fazl, Maulana SamiulHaq etc; some respected Jehadi commanders like Maulana FazlurRehman Khalil and Maulana Masood Azhar etc.
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c) Establish an office for talks
Office for talks is necessary so that reps of the govt, the militant groups and the mediators may sit together and deliberate the issues in detail (when Imran Khan suggested this few months ago, everybody and their aunt raised hue & cry but this is an absolute must to go any further - thats VISION of a leader).
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d) Ceasefire be announced before commencing of talks
A comprehensive ceasefire announcement be made jointly signed by the 'Dialogue Jirga' (govt+militants+mediators) and authorized by govt, army and Taliban before commencing of talks process. The ceasefire announcement should include the following points:
Immediate cessation of hostilities by both sides in FATA/KPK and rest of Pakistan. Any violation be taken up the 'Dialogue Jirga'. 
All sides will hold their respective positions and no side will try to transgress each other's areas or carry out any offensive manoeuvres (during the course of talks). For example: Taliban will not try to enter any new areas, brandish weapons or threaten public anywhere (in any manner). Also army will not conduct any major movements in or near the area without prior info of the 'Dialogue Jirga'. 
Polio & other health immunization drives MUST be allowed in all areas and safety/security of polio teams will be responsibility of both sides in their respective areas.
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2) Hold peace talks sincerely
a) The 'Dialogue Jirga' should be given a clear mandate, authority, time-frame and the whole proceedings of talks should be recorded in writing and clearly spelled out.
b) Talks should encompass all issues of concern; from attacks on security forces and civilians to attacks on polio teams and school; from compensation for victims of operations in FATA to rehabilitation of IDPs.
c) Peace talks are a serious affair and can't afford sensationalism spread by rating-hungry breaking-news-oriented media. Therefore, the proceddings of talks should be kept strictly in-camera; all delegates be bound under oath not to divulge any info bits till talks reach some logical conclusion. Also media should be officially barred from speculating about the talks.
d) If agreement is reached, it should be made public only after full approval and ownership by an APC and the Parliament. If agreement is not reached (God forbid)  with all or some militant groups, the reasons should be clearly spelled out to prepare the nation for 'alternate options'.
e) At the end of negotiations, an unconditional amnesty should be announced for all fighters who want to join the mainstream. They should be rehabilitated properly (if possible, adjust them in special security forces in the area).
f) Special development packages should be given to areas where militants denounce weapons. Schools / hospitals / roads / playgrounds / industrial opportunities should be provided on accelerated basis.
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3) Use of Force
Even after conduct of peace talks, there will probably be some militant groups or local commanders of groups who won't agree over a peaceful resolution of the issues. In such cases use of force will be necessitated to weed out the irreconcilable groups. But even then large-scale 'operations' are NOT a solution, rather a bit by bit approach will be needed against them.
a) Remove the ideological confusion from your soldier's mind (give him clarity) and deprive the militants of their biggest weapon i.e. ideological clarity (Talks before use of force will do just that).
b) Deprive the militants of their next biggest weapon i.e. 'control over the night'. This can be done by training selected groups of soldiers as SOGs - 'Special Operations Groups' (not necessarily as thorough as SSG commandos but eith better counter-insurgency tactics). Make these SOGs more effective by equipping them with night vision equipment and capable of night operations.
c) Take the fight to the militants' doorsteps and use their weapons and tactics (IEDs, ambushes etc) to counter them. Use disgruntled anti-Taliban tribesmen (who have grievances against militants) to target-kill militant commanders especially through IEDs.
Understand the militant psyche: they may not fear death so much but the definitely fear 'Sudden Death' (one reason why they seem to fear drones more than jets). One commander killed in an IED attack in 'own stronghold' will be a greater morale-dipper for the militants than a dozen commanders killed in operations. Thats the tribal psyche and thats how things go about. This will restrict their virtual unhindered movement in their strongholds.
d) If security forces indeed have to advance on some militant stronghold with civilians around or nearby, they should evacuate the civilians safely and ensure that they get best possible facilities in IDP camps.
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Note: The above procedure may not be applicable to all violent groups (especially those outside FATA). So a comprehensive Peace & Security Policy needs to be implemented for the purpose. A draft proposal is as under:
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IN THE LONG-TERM:
Counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism are a long, mostly painful and slow process spread over years. Foreign policy, political reforms, de politicization of civil security forces (police etc), strengthening of intelligence network, control on socio-economic injustices and corruption etc should be part of the long-term strategy.
a) On the political front of FATA should be integrated into the mainstream by abolishing FCR and merging FATA into KPK (and dividing KPK itself into more manageable North and South KPK).
b) Rights of the people should be given. If we want the tribesmen to behave like normal Pakistani citizens, we should first declare them ones.
{ BTW with FATA being ruled via FCR since 65 years, how can some 'intellectual' call the tribesmen beasts who know nothing about civilization. Even before the 9/11 era, how many efforts were made to mainstream the tribesmen (when they were peaceful)? Anyhow thats another debate.}
c) Pakistan will have to ensure non-interference in affairs of Afghanistan. Let the Afghans decide what is good (or bad) for them.
d) For lasting peace, the border with Afghanistan will have to be fenced and the two countries will have to behave as TWO countries (the fluid borders of today are not sustainable).
e) The extremist breeding grounds are not in FATA. They are somewhere else; in Punjab, in Saudi and in Iran (different versions). Addressing that aspect is perhaps the only long-term chance Pakistan has. Madressas need to be main-streamed and Mullahs need to be reigned in. The 'Strategic Assets' era needs to end.
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CONCLUSION:
Pakistan has 2 choices today:
A) Keep doing what has been done since 9/11 (i.e. indiscriminate operations) and you will get in return what you have been getting all these years (bombings, deaths, destruction and failed economy).
B) Mend your ways and try something different for once (that IK suggests) and you have a chance of CHANGE.
Choice is yours: Take it or squander it but remember you (including me) will have only yourselves to blame.
And for God sake - don't let your govt (Nawaz Sharif) do nothing by hiding behind Imran Khan and using media to turn whole public attention towards him. PMLN is THE GOVT; PMLN is in the leading chair; PMLN is the authority controlling the tree biggest players of this game i.e. Army, FATA and Foreign policy (USA/NATO etc).
Make them answerable or you'll repent. Blaming Imran Khan won't help at all.
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.


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