How long the world will continue to buy the slanted truth.

The slanted truth —Dr Mohammad Taqi

Daily Times

Believers in the thesis that Afghanistan provides Pakistan with strategic depth are so scared of this shared bond that they had vetoed Afghania — represented by the letter ‘A’ in the word Pakistan — as the new name for the province previously known as NWFP

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant” — Emily Dickinson.

Three men had their right hands severed for petty theft last month by the Taliban in the Ghaljo village of Orakzai Agency. After initial treatment at a hospital in Kohat, they contacted a prominent civil and human rights activist to get prosthetic surgery done, followed by a rehabilitation programme. Funds were raised subsequently as charitable donations from individuals to assist them.

However, the unfortunate victims have now declined to get the surgery and rehabilitation done. They and their families reportedly did this under duress from the Taliban. Their sad decision is a stark reminder of the fascist hordes lurking in the shadows. The Taliban are neither down nor out. But the security establishment in Pakistan would have one believe otherwise.

On June 5, 2010, two articles appeared in the Pakistani press. The one in this paper titled ‘North Waziristan, the Punjabi Taliban and the Durand Line’, was authored by Mr Naeem Tahir and the second one ‘N Waziristan: the final frontier’, published in another daily, was written by Ms Sherry Rehman, an MNA. The resemblance between these two articles is striking. Had it been Urdu or Persian poetry, one would have been tempted to call this tawarud, i.e. two poets expressing — coincidentally — the same ideas in very similar words without prior knowledge of each other’s thought or work.

Upon a cursory read, both pieces might come across as opinions by liberal writers who are concerned about the curse of Talibanisation afflicting Pakistan and trying to float an indigenous plan to fight it. A slightly deeper look, however, would reveal that, clad in a liberal cloak, the authors may be peddling the Pakistani security establishment’s view, i.e. that despite the clear and present danger that the Taliban and al Qaeda portend, we are not able to do much about it, especially in North Waziristan (NW).

Ms Rehman, whose written or spoken word on military strategy and the Pak-Afghan geopolitical situation has hitherto remained hidden from the public eye, makes a foray into both spheres. She starts by dropping some geographical terms like ‘Loya Paktia’ and using quasi-military jargon. She writes: “The challenge in NW is that Islamabad does not have the military or civilian capacity to open all fronts at the same time. Despite impressive successes in other tribal agencies, the Pakistani army faces a 50,000-strong critical mass of armed guerrilla combatants in NW. They have learnt to avoid set-piece battles. After army operations in surrounding areas, a hardened assortment has sought sanctuary there.”

A similar formula is deployed by Mr Tahir, who mentions the Peochar stronghold of Maulvi Fazlullah, along with a narrative of the valley’s capture and the ‘successful operations’ in South Waziristan, etc. He concludes: “Action in NW must be undertaken, but the timing must be decided by the government of Pakistan and the armed forces, and it should follow the settlement of these issues.”

Mr Tahir then ventures into lecturing on the history of the Durand Line and how Fazlullah and other terrorists can sneak through it back into Pakistan. He calls ‘revisionist’ those who think that people on both sides of the Durand Line are one people.

Before being taken down by the Zia regime, the board at Torkham had the Quaid’s words inscribed on it saying that the people living on either side of the border are one nation (qaum) and no power will be able to keep them apart.

Most politicians in Pakistan are not afraid of acknowledging that the Pashtuns/Afghans living across the Durand Line are one people who share a common language, culture and customs, just like the Germans in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Perhaps this is what the Quaid meant in his speech, not the use of FATA for unleashing 30 years of death and destruction in Afghanistan by Pakistani, Saudi and US agencies.

Ironically, believers in the thesis that Afghanistan provides Pakistan with strategic depth are so scared of this shared bond that they had vetoed Afghania — represented by the letter ‘A’ in the word Pakistan — as the new name for the province previously known as NWFP.

The apologetics put forth by these two authors blend seamlessly with the collaboration between the Pakistani intelligence apparatus and the jihadist outfits, highlighted yet again by the recent London School of Economics (LSE) report. This partnership was never hidden and neither are the attempts by the security establishment to force even democratically elected leaders to toe their line.

Not too long ago, a senior Pashtun politician mentioned on the national media a press conference by the Taliban that was held at a security agency fortress. He and his party reportedly came under tremendous pressure to rescind his statement. He stood his ground but the party’s president eventually buckled.

Given the lengths to which the establishment goes to delay and defer the action against its Taliban assets, the LSE report is not surprising to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. They also know that not one Taliban leader — including the notorious Muslim Khan — has been brought to justice by the same authorities that are not willing to act against the 50,000 jihadists in NW. This is precisely why their victims decline treatment when they need it most.

The question remains how long the world will continue to buy the slanted truth.

The writer teaches and practices Medicine at the University of Florida and contributes to the think-tanks http://www.politact.com and Aryana Institute. He can be reached at mazdaki@me.com

Courtesy: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/print.asp?page=20106\17\story_17-6-2010_pg3_2

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