Review: Pakistan’s Counterterrorism Strategy: Separating Friends from Enemies
AYESHA SIDDIQA "Pakistan’s Counterterrorism Strategy: Separating Friends from Enemies" concludes with this statement
"The subsequent sociopolitical anarchy in Pakistan adds to the problem, combining collectively to mean that the United States cannot expect Islamabad to fight the war on Washington’s terms, whatever they may be in the coming months and years."
This is a well written article (as expected) even though AYESHA SIDDIQA narrowly avoids bringing up the Taliban bogeyman that has been the bread and butter of other journalists like AHMED RASHEED. The basic thrust is still the same, Pakistan Army is preoccupied with India (true). It is unfortunate that the third harbingers of dread HUSSEIN HAQQANI has now joined the dark side and is now apologizing for Pak Army actions.
The article is written with a PENTAGON mindset, for example, " The future of U.S. military operations in South Asia depends on the convergence of policies between the United States and Pakistan, but since the war began in 2001, interpreting Islamabad’s counter-terrorism policy has been difficult." There is a feeble mention of the effect of drone attacks (one mention), and no mention of the Pakistan Army losses in morale and life (as much as 5500 have died in Waziristan operations). Hardly a mention of exit strategy and for someone who shows scathing criticism for Pakistan Army, Ms Siddiqa shows tolerance for the US Army 10 year occupation of AF-PAK region.
At the same time, I agree that the starting point for Pakistan is to "address the problem of changing the basic narrative and socioeconomic conditions that drive militancy in the first place." The militancy in Pakistan is a growing threat, a phenomenon that is not restricted to Taliban, but what I term the Biryani Mullahs, the TV evangelists like Amir Liaqat who spew hatred that ends up in targeting and persecution of minorities like Ahmedis, Sufi Shrines and Christians. However, this narrative can't be developed while a war of attrition is launched again Pakistanis population in Waziristan. It should however be launched by banning and arresting any public leaders who spew hatred. In addition, killing of noncombatants and civilians has to be disowned by Pakistani religious established as Ms Siddiqa cites, "A renowned Muslim scholar, Javed Ahmed Ghamdi, argues that unless Muslim ideological theoreticians are able to admit that the Qur’an prohibits killing all non-combatants be they in Israel, Palestine, Pakistan, India, or the United States it will be difficult to fight terrorism successfully."
This has continued to be a Pakistani and Muslim ideological challenge, and becomes increasingly murky because of the presence of US Armed forces in Afghanistan and factors like
a) Frequent Drone attacks in Pakistan
b) Consistent cross border raids by US and Afghan forces
c) Abuse of Pakistani roads, and supply systems by ISAF convoys
d) Loss of Pakistani civilians caught in this cross-fire of Pakistan Army indiscriminate shelling and militants use of civilians
e) Pakistan army's losses
A better assessment of the situation has been by Ann Wilkens, former Swedish ambassador to Pakistan & Afghanistan, in her report called "Smoke gets in your eyes"
(Photo is from Tariq Ali's book, The Duel)