Ever since Musharraf launched the first incursions into Waziristan in 2002, the military offensives have been controversial, heavy-handed, and extralegal. The recent operations in Bajaur and Swat raise new concerns. Instead of risking loss of ground troops, the top military brass has shifted focus to aerial bombing. Entire villages have been uprooted, creating the largest IDP crisis in our history. As our State bombs Pukhtunwa to a pulp, it relies on our unwillingness to object–to stay silent as our leaders exploit our fear of “Talibanization” to legitimize an illegal and cruel war.
While we recognize the danger and threat of these militants, we do not believe this war will bring peace. The War on Terror has become a war of terror–a war of destruction, and loss of blood of the rural poor of the Northwest. We must remember that militant insurgencies arise in specific historical and social context. During and after the Afghan-Soviet War in the 1980s, money, arms, and training were thrown at the region by the United States. Violence became normalized. A pattern that was instituted then – intelligence agencies’ funded proxies jostling for regional control remains in effect today.
Presently, Central Asia is geo-strategically invaluable. American and NATO planners have been publicly casting their eyes over these areas with the intention of checking China and India’s impending rise, as well as Russia’s reassertiveness. Internally, we must analyse the poverty and desperation in FATA and the state’s repressive and colonial legal control of the region. This dialectic—the importance of understanding local militancy as a consequence of both internal devastation and external interference—should expose the inanity of expecting a War on Terror to expunge the “forces of reaction”, the Taliban, from FATA and NWFP.
Sunday, December 28th, 2 pm
PMA House, Karachi