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Imran Khan’s stand on Taliban – War is not the Only Solution

This article was sent to Dawn in response to Cyril Almeida’s column Talibangate, but was not published, it has more recently been published in The News in a slightly edited version, but the actual rebuttal is reproduced here

Mr Cyril Almeida in his article in Dawn on 19th March, states that Imran Khan has cried hoarse opposing this war against the Taliban. We need to respond to the link being created by such assertions implying that being against this ‘War’ Khan and his party must be supporters of the Taliban. ‘You are either with us or against us’.

PTI is not a supporter of Taliban. Far from it. We condemn the violence perpetrated by Tehrik-e-Taliban or any other group against innocent people and those who murder and slaughter people. However, we also believe that the Taliban label encompasses a lot of others including those who are reacting to US presence in Afghanistan and their sympathizers in Pakistan; those who react also against the Pakistan army and on civilian population because of US presence in Pakistan; the fundamentalists who believe that Sharia should be imposed even against the wishes of the people; those who disillusioned with justice in Pakistan believe imposition of Sharia law will provide Insaf, little realizing that any law in the hands of the present unaccountable bureaucracy will not deliver; those who are affectees of collateral damage and want to take revenge (à la Iraq); those who are sponsored by ‘local’ and ‘outside’ agencies (including India) and finally the fundamentalist who has hijacked all this chaos and suffering. We can go on and on, different groups, even criminals, land and drug mafias which are taking ample advantage of this strife.

PTI and Imran Khan have talked about understanding the problem not supporting the Taliban. We are also opposed to this ‘War on Terror’ as not a primary solution. When the army calls the major shots prompted by foreign interests in a terrorist politico-religious-civil situation which is very grave indeed, it will always lead to heavy handed treatment of civilians and killing of innocents which increases hatred, ethnic polarization and frequently a worsening of the situation. The army has lost countless brave soldiers too and innocent civilians throughout Pakistan, so called Taliban areas included, have borne the brunt. We are going through a bout of senseless killings.

The civil government is not calling the shots because they are under US-Pentagon pressure, from people who live in remote lands and are running a ‘joy-stick’ war, the consequences of which are like earthquakes to us. Temporary gaps in this battle lulls us into thinking that things are getting better. By all indicators the situation is worse and it is still being justified as the terrorists’ last stand. We are afraid that this argument would burn out in a few years but by that time we would have caused enormous self inflicted damage to the Pakistan polity.

As human minds are different so are the reasons behind this ‘disease’ different. The semantic label of ‘War’ on terror allows for tremendous collateral damage and like war everything can be done circumventing every law which man has ever laid down in history almost debasing modern society. PTI and Imran Khan are not providing any excuse or justification for terror, they are just trying to communicate the multi-factorial origin of this terror. Looking for solutions, our US masters have started to identify these differences among the Taliban but we continue in a time warp of our own. Our policies and our elite opinion are just delayed echoes of Washington. PTI believes that as we understand the reasons, so shall we come up with different treatments for this malady, before it becomes terminal.

Somebody has to talk to somebody and find out their grievances. There are thousands of Taliban arrested in Pakistan. The media should access them and find for us their frustration. We have seamlessly adopted the ‘Bushism’ of yester years into our discourses that they are against our ‘freedoms and liberties’. The elite in Pakistan believe that Taliban have one extreme Sharia which they want to impose. This may be true of some groups but I am also sure that if the media is allowed to hear and then inform us of even the arrested criminal’s point of view, we will be closer to understanding the phenomenon. The whole country is confused as we see one extreme face which is very painful indeed, prompting one extreme solution.

A Rand Corporation study published in 2007, after studying all terrorist situations from 1968 to 2006 concluded that military force has rarely been the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups, the phenomenon can only be handled through a range of policy instruments including negotiations. Army action has glaringly failed in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Palestine the original ‘War of Terror’. Pakistan is in trouble on too many fronts to be able to bear this colossal cost in human, political and financial terms. Since 9/11 Musharraf, like all muslims while condemning terror wanted to focus world attention on the causes of terror. Tragically the same argument was promptly forgotten when we were hit, and we became the victims this senseless ordeal.

Let us not take dictates because we lose our own perspective. Of course it has become our problem, but with reasons beyond our borders too. We should use our own medicine, but we are being pre-empted into this vicious cycle of terror begetting terror. Today it is more stick and less carrot. PTI and Khan are only saying… do more carrot and less stick. Talking and understanding does not exclude army action. I predict we will talk sooner rather than later as our masters have already started changing course, and have committed the small ‘heresy’ of grading the Taliban into different groups, the ultimate shall be talking to them. Let us be open to possible solutions for which we may need a paradigm shift and some lateral thinking as nobody has a clear solution, us included. It would be a long path to peace.

Almeida also wrote that ‘Imran Khan offers a vision of pure Islamic Pakistan, Islam first and everything else second’. Where did he get this from except hearsay? Maybe it is wrong to hope that like many other opinion makers he would not be shooting from the hip and investigating afterwards. We believe in Pakistan as expressed by Jinnah frequently and in his speech of Aug 11, and Islam as understood by Iqbal in his well enunciated ‘Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’. Pakistan should be a non theocratic country, though seeped in its muslim tradition of humanity, emanicipation, equal opportunities, welfare and freedom for all to practice their faiths. Muslims should also fall back upon a historic Covenant signed and given by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to the Christians which is preserved in St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, the translation of which was published in your editorial page and can be accessed through http://www.dawn.com/2006/10/24/ed.htm.


44 Comments

  • Aamir Mughal |

    Yes PTI is not the supporter of Taliban.

    Mr Khan said this after visiting Punjab University’s Professor Iftikhar Baloch on Sunday, who was allegedly thrashed by Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) activists, last week.

    He said such violence was being done under the very nose of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif but they were unmoved. He alleged the IJT, a student wing of the Jamaat-i- Islami, was a terrorist group creating unrest in the otherwise peaceful atmosphere of the Punjab University. PU episode Imran holds PM, CM responsible By Our Staff Reporter Monday, 05 Apr, 2010 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-

    • Nazia |

      Khan knows the pain of such attack and reality behind such hooliganism better than other as he also faced same from JI group.

      I have told you that PU situation is very different as compare to lpw profile of JI in lahore.

      Imran faces same kinds of threat whenever he mobilizes his team for fund raising or hide collection .so he knows the politics of JI in all ways.

  • Rashid Saleem |

    War is not a solution but it is just a start to a more peaceful society. These militants needed to be eliminated. The country must be built on more non-theocratic lines.

  • Observer |

    PTI is spot on – on this issue. We need more carrot and less stick. After all we have to live together, and collateral damage will not help our cause towards a lasting peace. At the same time we need to take action against the extremist who will not talk and find peaceful soltions.

    Brw: Shame on Cyril Almeida and DAWN.

  • farhan |

    pti and jamat islami ( go amrika go ) never condemn any terrorist activity committed by Taliban and jihadi outfits,only in fact 99% of the time they brought the excuse that it was the black water , Indians or other elements who are involved in bombings etc.who can forget mr hyper khan was trying to be the mediator between Taliban and the government.even Taliban rehnuma said" we have full faith on imran khan as a mediator as he has the same mentality like of talibans"

    so shame on imran and jamati's.

    • Teeth Maestro |

      Farhan – read this entire article again – what more condmenation could you ask for by PTI, against the Taliban Menace – all they are asking for is not to clump everyone into one hell hole there must be some chance of dialog and peace with some saner elements – for now the US and Pak Army find it conveint to label everyone a terrorirst – and drone bomb everyone assuming that they are all Terrorists – that actually results in the killing of innocent Pakistanis – try to understand that main crux of the problem – its easier to run a war when there is one target – but if you / army has to start picking and choosing the Public relations scenarios go down the drain

    • tahir |

      Your reply makes me say 'keep condemning taliban and don't do anything to sort out terrorism'.Your opinion is primarily about your own vested interests.As far as Pakistan is concerned,it must see solution to terrorism and then peace be prevailed.

      Another American voice in Pakistan,shame on you,Farhan!!!!!!

    • Adnan Siddiqi |

      "Jihadi Outfits"?

      What do you want to say? Do you condemn the concept of Jihad? if yes then how do you even dare to advertise yourself as a Muslim?

      Too much sucking Up West just sending you away from your roots.

  • Zainab Ali |

    Perhaps, he is right that war is not the only solution and it should be supported by a series of other important steps. Terrorism is a problem and must be dealt with as soon as possible, and any delay would further damage the image of Pakistan. Efforts should be made to make Pakistan a land of opportunity to all its citizens, and thus all of them must be given equal rights.

  • Muhammad Bilal |

    I totally agree with PTI stance on WAR – as its insanity and hundreds and thousands have died so far in this search for terrorists. Terrorism is a mindset as told by Imran Khan many a times. Pakistanis supporting the war should open up eyes and see even many Americans are against the war for so much spendings, killing of innocent people, and false promises. Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan were a lot better than 9/11, and now if you look closely at any of these three countries, they are in total ciaos.

    So please work together, support Imran Khan, and stop this war of terror.

    http://join.pk/stop+the+war+of+terror

  • khalid humayun |

    Yes war is not the only solution, but negotiation is also not the only solution either. What I have been observig, this terrorism is NOT the Islamic/religious fanaticism. It is a well established and flourished industry that has deep roots in several regions in the world but the deepest of all in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Pakistan and Afghanistan in particular because the terrorism trainers don't have to do a lot of brain washing for teenage pakhtoons who are trodden under extreme poverty. Moreover, the presence of NATO and drone attacks have made easier availability of would-be-suicidebombers. Vested forces within the country and abroad as well hire their services. Millions of dollars change hands. Baitullah Mehsood had his own Army and he used to pay Rs.15,000 per month to each of his "soldier". The system continues by his successors.

    Who are funding them? From where the explosive material is pouring in? These are the burning questions that require explanation. Unless we cut the supply line, fighting on the fronts is futile. Last but not the least, our homeland security set up is still on the same pattern that we inherited from Britishers. Only changing from double barrels guns to AK 47 with no effective intelligence network backup, it won't make a considerable dent to terrorists nefarious designs.

    • Nazia |

      For our army war is perfect solution of their problems .it doesn't matter for them that this problem is resolved or not but war should be going on as such circumstances would never allow a political and civic set up to get its roots and state would be dependent on miltiary set up.

      We have no doubts that terrorists groups are Pakistani origin who are considered as soldiers of God so only God can protect us from their wrath.who would stop their supply lines,It was job of border forces to eradicate border bases of these outfits but they fed them and now monster of terrorism is knocking at our door step.

      Your all missile system, nuclear weapons modern war fare have been considered ineffective in this unending war games and you are just wasting your sons on no man land for creating more hatred to one of war loving people of our mountains.

      Imran 's stand has no value on national politics and in eyes of army where two mad elephants have been provided free ground to play friendly foot ball match.

      For our army it is just eradication operation but they are ignorant that it would be only possible over the fragmentation of Pakistan as no war can remove the concepts of faith from soil and you are in need of same kind of process which they had initiated 20 years before .

  • Bilal Hashim |

    A lot can be written about this as the problem is not that simple…as long as man continues to exploit man events and movements such as these will keep on popping up..we might call them terrorists/extremists and i dunno what not..but what we fail to understand are the problems these people have faced, the loved ones they have lost…this insensitivity of ours towards the pain around us, without any understanding of what true pain actually and use fire to fight fire will eventually burn the whole country down…this wont be an isolated event the fire will spread…with an ever increasing level of mistrust, exploitation, inequitable distribution of wealth, increasing social n economic disparity and insensitivity towards critical issues, it wont be surprising to see a similar violent reaction of the common man arriving on the streets of our metropolises…will you still call it terrorism then?? society always prepare the crime and the criminal commits it.

    • khalid humayun |

      Terrorism is terrorism and floral shop is floral shop and that is that. We can only kill this demon if we keep our sentiments aside and face the reality to get up to bottom of the problem. Those 14-16 years boys that are taken by Terrorists organizations for preparing them to wind up suicide belt or put on suicide jackets are also dear to their parents. Does only poverty compel them to part their own blood? I don't have the answer, I am ashamed.

  • dr jawwad khan |

    I sincerely believe that the suggestion of negociation is the most and only reasonable option. Terrorism can not be defeated with the use of force.Negociations on the other hand is also doesn't solve the primary issue which is American aggression and war against the pashto speaking taliban sympathizing population on both sides of the border. but through negociation and pulling ourselves out from so called war on terror, we can avoid being consumed by the war.

    • Nazia |

      Dr khan

      Situation has gone far above than negotiation.These people are daily burying their love ones and mostly are young people.Yesterday attack on temmer guh clearly opens our eyes that stupid celebration of changing name is not solution of our grave problems.

      First we distorted the Pukhtoon culture by introducing the concept of jihad in their heart and soul and as source of income too.Planners and executioners filled their pockets with dollar and have moved their next generation to west after making these people more handicapped and corrupt than before.

      Each year brought more aggressiveness in their nature and we are seeing more hostility on this side of country.

      War was started by our army instead of localized search operations we preferred full war so be ready for same kind of response as you have made then highly charged and reactive nation.

      US is their invisible army who is seeing them through drone'e eyes but we have intruded our troops in their land .If we follow the history then get ready to face the consequences which once super power faced it even their offers of development were much better than our crude miltiary minds.

  • Nazia |

    Mughal

    Col Imam did all on the basis of adopted policy of Pak army.He was not doing all this on his basis but following the chain of commands as per orders from his seniors.

    What he was doing in retired time nobody knows but we all are clear that such passions cant be controlled when their designed plan is destroyed liked that.So they were free to move, access to all alqeada local operatives and now after this interview in international news papar they are vanished.

    I think our army men never learn from their mistake or others but love to repeat it with more disastrous planning as part of adventure in their lives.

    Conisdering Osama as an angel shows us the another fanatical nature of these extremist wearing our uniform.

    If angels are like that whose name is used to mass murder of muslims then Hitler and osama are two angels of God sent to treat enemies of christian and Muslim people of the world.

    • Aamir Mughal |

      Conisdering Osama as an angel shows us the another fanatical nature of these extremist wearing our uniform. [Nazia]

      ================

      Why blame Imran alone who in my humble opinion wants to help those poor people who are stuck in the mess of Strategic Depths to be precise "Death" created by: Ronald Reagan, Afghan Mujahideen, Talibans & Royal Mess. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2010/03/ronald-r

    • Aamir Mughal |

      Nazia says: – April 6, 2010 at 4:35 pm – Mughal – Col Imam did all on the basis of adopted policy of Pak army.He was not doing all this on his basis but following the chain of commands as per orders from his seniors.

      =====================

      Correct: Army accused of extra-judicial killings Spokesman denies charge Tuesday, April 06, 2010
      http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id

  • Nazia |

    Mughal

    Imran has no say no official place in this extended war in terror.

    Nobody knows exactly how much more groups have been emerged due to prolong war situation in this area.You can fight for one or two but but not against charred generation.

    If Imran like vocal is need of such war and terror why zardari like NRO beneficiaries were called back to further humiliate the Pakistani status in local and international level.We are really strange lovers and haters of own kind.

    First we hate Indians and put all resources on stake for justifying our enmity to neighbors.Then we fallen in love with Afghans and gave them space and aide more than our capacity, now we are in extreme hatred with them.So in this love hate business we are actually loosing our stability nothing less than it we compromise.

  • Observer |

    @Teeth

    You need to highlight this issue. In a way it is related to our own drone attacks and "collateral" damage in general:





    • Nazia |

      MB

      Our players have more interests in troubled neighbor's daughter than our local breed.

      All glitters are more gold then silvery local girls for them.

      or he might be afraid of seeing the insult of Mohd asif through veena malik.

      He since the age of 18 years is trying hard to get Indian beauty.From ayesha to sania he surely has broken the record of moshin and Imran in this regards.Attempts to win the heart of two Indian beauties.

      Results of such mismatches are quite obvious same like the past but the day humans learn from past , they are presented as super human being.

      Shoib like weak characters never bother to think of past experiences.

  • Ammar |

    Humayan is spot on when he says terrorism is terrorism and floral shop is a floral shop. The case is quite simple you cannot sugar quote terrorism we cannot give a fancy name to it. That is why half-hearted condemnations won’t do any good!

  • JJ |

    Imran Khan is the leader Pakistan desperately needs !!

    Imran Khan is the leader Pakistan desperately needs !!

    Imran Khan is the leader Pakistan desperately needs !!

  • Natasha |

    It's totally unfair to be branded as a non-bearded Taliban for speaking against violence – something frequently done by those who do not understand the 'basic' point that Khan tries to make while talking against the war.Blame the extremist attitude of the Pakistanis.They're either on the extreme right or extreme left.

    There are parties whose politics revolves around their hatred for America and then there are those who just cant stop bootlicking.Khan is himself to be blamed for associating with Jamaat.No matter what he says it's taken as blabbering and his 'hatred for AMREECA'- his party taken as an extended form of jamaat.He needs to break away from the image to be heard and given importance to IMO.The so-called liberals need to look at his logic instead of branding him a taliban sympathiser.A moderate approach is the only way out.

    • Nazia |

      Natasha

      we own this beard culture.There is no shame in accepting it.

      We have extremist in our system long time ago and we cant deny it.

      Our "hate America term "is quite obsolete and in real life all political and miltiary characters have strong link with US but they use this slogan in local circles to threat amercains.

      US love can be seen in US consulates in Pakistan where long queues of applicants of all kind visas is self explanatory.

      Khan has no political background and has serious flaws in his personality and life styles.

      our Intelligence men never allowed honest political men like miraj khaild, raza rabbani,Junejo etc to get roots in political structure so Imran has very less chances to click unless army step down from bullying attitude against her people.

      but no doubt he has gifted excellent pieces of social work and we should be thankful to him for his honest dedication.

      This is anti Taliban or anti beard propaganda era.

      All mafias or strong people would use this propaganda to get rid of personal enemy and enmity.So it is not matter of logic or principle stand but corrupt and weak rulers are just following the wind directions They have no other option to survive other than pick and choose characters from locals as taliban to harass Americans.

  • tamaaz khan |

    Please Mr. Alvi,

    Despite your PTI credentials don't gloss over the fact that Imran and his JI friends were jubilating over the 'sharia' law imposed by Fazalullah in Swat.

    And then later on PTIJI were crying themselves hoarse over the operation in Swat to get rid of said militants.

    Just by writing a few words in the English press about not supporting TTP doesn't change facts.

    Imran and PTI don't mince words when denouncing military action taken against the terrorists bombing our schools and hospitals.

    However, when it comes to condemning the terrorism perpetrated against our civilians, IK and PTI comments always come with statements about pakhtun culture, blackwater, USA, War in Afghanistan.

    Imran Khan is documented saying in no uncertain terms that suicide bombings against the Pakistani military is justified!

    When IK is on his next visit to Pakistan ask him to spend some time with the families of those jawans who have been killed in terrorist attacks and explain to them how it is justified!

    • Shoaib-aka-SHOBI |

      tamaz khan,

      yeah and tell Altaf Hussain too, when he comes to Pakitan next time (if he comes alive), tell him to visit the jawans which MQM killed in Karachi in North Nazimabad Area and cafe piala spot.

      When MQM was in war against Pakistan Army, then it was justified?

      Or Army operations are only legit when they are not against MQM?

      Peer Munafiq and his followers are worse than Taliban. Atleast Talibans claim of the killings they do and are not liars but Peer Munafiq and his followers kill civilians in the night and join the janaza in the morning.

      Azeem Tariq ham sharmindaa hain

      teray Qatil abhee zindaa hain.

  • Bilal Hashim |

    unfortunately those who claim to be against feudalism in reality represent the feudal mindset in Karachi…a movement which was supposed to get people out of exploitation actually became a puppet of the master to further plunge the already suffering people into further exploitation and madness.

  • tamaaz khan |

    @shobi

    wow, where did MQM come into this?

    So please inform me:

    how many schools were bombed by MQM,

    how many hospitals?

    how many imambargahs?

    how many masjids?

    how many cultural events?

    In any case, the topic is that Imran Khan speaks out against terrorism.

    I maintain, that a few lines in the english press with carefully placed qualifying statements does not constitue protest.

    Plus, in the past, his support for "shariah" law in swat and vehement opposition to any military operation against fazlullah is well documented as is his view that suicide bombing against the Pakistani army is justified.

    @bilal

    Yes, we all saw the mayhem created in Karachi under the CDGK in the past four years. Scary. No one wants that. Right?

    • Nazia |

      tamazz

      Dont think deeply about talibans.It was down fall time for these fanatics just like mqm had in 1980s.

      So after this time is over you would see that all hidden characters would come out after few years if we are able to secure our piece of land in this war on terror.

      They would lead those locals just in the way MQM is ruling in Karachi under scene of terror and horror.

      This situation is normal after abnormal miltiary operation as in northern side it has more horrible scenes then Karachi so you would see more brutal force in coming days will be risen from the piles of destruction and dead bodies of innocent victims of war on terror.

  • Bilal Hashim |

    @tamaaz

    Our people have a very short attention span or they are inclined towards forgetting the past very easily or they have become truly insensitive….basically we are accustomed to celebrating every short lived happiness that we get and we never think that it'll all be over soon, its like a bubble that has its limits and sooner or later it will burst with a bug bang…the work you're referring to is indeed a good step but tell me has it made the the standard of living of the common man rise to a significant level where we can say that peace has returned in the life of the common man??? it is my belief that building roads and infrastructure is not the first step towards attaining SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, rather the prerequisite for REAL PROGRESS is that we provide an environment that fosters taaleem as well tarbiat of the society…if this would've happened with sincerity then i would've lauded it with all my heart but unfortunately nothing has been done in this reagrd and still you are celebrating as if we have achieved eternal bliss…i suggest you wait for a few more years or even less and then you'll again witness the real mayhem that you have either forgotten or consider it part n parcel of the package…the people are observing an ignorant silence…the imminent harsh times will wake this already downtrodden, sickened, ignorant masses and when this happens Machiavelli's prince wont find an inch of land to hide from the wrath of the Almighty…and with the prince the lil tyrants who support him will also perish in eternal humiliating torment. May Alla direct you to the right path and grant you the desire to walk on it as well.

  • tamaaz khan |

    @Bilal

    Thanks for wishes.

    Why are we dicussing Karachi here?

    The topic is PTI/IK's pseudo condemnation of the TTP, AFTER realizing that public opinion in Pakistan is firmly against the Taliban and realizing they cannot attract any cheap populist gains by supporting them as they did in Swat

    However, on the topic of "SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT":

    "it is my belief that building roads and infrastructure is not the first step towards attaining SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT"

    My friend, when was the last time you visted Karachi? The ciy is well past the point of Sustainable Development. Any notion of Sustainable Development in karachi unfortuntely is a moot point.

    Population growth has outstripped any development. This infrastructure development is being done way, waay after the fact.

    The city's infrastrure is meant for 500,000 inhabitants, currently there are 18 million people living in the city.

    The only way you can back track to Sustainable Development in Karachi is by relocating masses of the population elsewhere!

    • Bilal Hashim |

      my dear Tamaaz…i think the discussion isn't bringing the desired fruit here, so i kindly suggest that we let time unveil the truth..im sure everyone agrees that with time the ultimate truth will become apparent wish none of us will be able to deny…in the end i'd apologize if i offended you in any way since that was not my aim was to to point out the painful reality that prevails behind the layers of lies and deceptions that we have chosen to accept at face value…i hope n pray sincerely that may Allah enlighten our paths and guide us towards real success.

  • Javid bin Musallah |

    I'm Moslem first but heritage, Pashto do. I favor independence corrupt Pakistan yes, Punjbi elite are. Note

    about appeasement nor, unity just exploting us. If we become

    independent with on culture Allah shall bless us! Daarhi line

    was broken by Britain which enslaved Pakistan. Relish; racism

    comes from government time for change. We shall get are

    freedom from Pakistan. Hate comes from money elite whom steal

    are land. To enrich the pockets also selling to Arabs!

  • Zia |

    Imran Khan stance now vindicated.

    Govt makes conditional talks offer to Taliban.

    ''The core of leadership is being proactive rather than reactive. Leaders identify potential problems and solve them before they reach crisis proportions''