Counter Terrorism: Confusing the Nation’s Conscience


Military is clear about their role, “counter the militants of TTP in battle field”. What about civil society? Are they ready to counter them in their homes, streets and markets?

Counter terrorism, TTP, Pakistan Army,

Narratives, both in favor and against the talks and its speculative outcomes have been put forward by intelligentsia, strategic and security experts.

Later, apparently a belligerent message was given to the premier of Pakistan by the COAS:“time for the peace talks is over”. Why is the Army concerned about the operation? And what is its strategic implication, is another topic to be discussed under a different heading. The purpose of this piece is to highlight the clash of narratives that our society and nation is facing today.

Fact of the day is that there is a time line, which illustrates that TTP has never ceased its activities against the Armed Forces of and the general public of Pakistan. Mohmand Faction’s statements and the activities of Ahrar ul Hind, a shadowy group of TTP have made headlines during the peace talks. And at the same time, Fazlulah, the so called TTP Amir, never made a clear statement about the peace talks.

It seems Peace was never on their agenda!

However, recent developments nailed the coffin of these peace talks shut, when attacks from across the border were carried out on Pakistani check posts by TTP factions. The TTP has also claimed responsibility for several attacks on security personals inside Pakistan. The recent attack in Fateh Jang is one such example.

The dichotomy in the narrative however, still persists. Dominant factor in the national politics is not only advocating but also going to an extent in negotiating terms with the TTP. The TTP on the other hand is sending messages to the masses about dishonest approach of government and intelligence agencies. The nation under influence of such narratives of appeasement towards the TTP is divided in classical pro and anti blocks.

Two extremes have been created by these narratives of different quarters.

– Factions in favor of talks and complete immunity.

– Factions in favor of operation and complete elimination of TTP, along with its sympathizers in the society.

Let us accept it, loud and clear, pro and anti blocks are still in confusion about the ideological background of the TTP and like factions.

The Anti-bloc is further divided into two confused and opposing sub blocks. One sub block consists of people who are against the religious elements altogether, thus advocating for secularism. The other sub block consists of people claiming to be from the right wing patriots, advocating an Islamic state and opposing TTP mainly because of sectarian issues, thus narrowing down the counter-terrorism activities scope and allowing a completely lose focus on its ideological and strategic implications internally and externally.

The Pro-talks block is also divided into different sub blocks; few completely in favor of TTP and its activities, thereby favoring and advocating it openly on all forums and others who sympathize with TTP and its activities in the name of Tribes or due to alleged atrocities carried out either by Pakistan Army in the FATA region or due to the unclear and confused policies of the government towards the conflict resolution process. This is the most dangerous drift in our society, partially falling prey to the TTP and advocating for them because of the claims TTP has made for themselves and ignoring the alarming facts regarding them, presented by scholars of different schools of thoughts about them, be the scholars are either from a strategic or defense area or from a religious background.

Pro or anti, both narratives lack in their approach and are unable to present a solution oriented methodology because of their inaccessibility to firsthand knowledge, either about the operational issues or about the ideological issues of such outfits. A solution, be it political or military should be considered short term if all the stake holders are not on the same page.

Before going for a solution that can end this clash within our society over this unconventional yet traditional threat, one needs to understand the enemy one is facing.

Military is all out for an operation, a large “anti- TTP” block within the nation is favoring its actions, but what about the post operation scenario? Will TTP not emerge again? How can the fruits of a military operation be reaped if the political, social and civil mindset is not in complete sync, together with a strategic mindset? Is it only about curbing the operational activities of TTP, supported and nurtured by external elements or is there is something more lethal, more deadly, which unfortunately a large chunk of “Pro-TTP” along with a large “Anti-TTP” faction of our nation has yet not understood.

The “ideological” factor has yet not become the agenda of our policy narrative.

TTP, Al-Qaida or any other terrorist outfit share the limelight due to their operational activities; thereby, diverting and attracting the focus of all policy and opinion makers towards countering it on operational/military front. Therefore, use of hard power overshadows other areas which require equal or more attention. A need for debate is essential-debate to understand the ideology-leading-to-methodology of terrorists we are dealing with.

Without understanding the basis wherefrom the “will to kill” of a terrorist takes birth; the misconstrued narrative of religion, upon which they play with the psychology of the masses; and misrepresentation of facts through their psyops about atrocities of Pakistan’s government – a comprehensive anti-terrorist policy or plan-of-action cannot be transformed into a result oriented solution.

Talha Ibrahim - is a certified conflict analyst of United States Institute of Peace.

Discussion6 Comments

  1. A better alternative for the army would have been to go all out for the implementation of Sharia than to go all out for operation. That would have eliminated TTP without even firing a bullet. But is the ‘Islamic’ army really ‘Islamic’?
    The TTP will always emerge out more stronger in strength and ideology because no one else wants to offer what they proclaim to offer!

  2. The main battle should be ideological not military. This is b/c as Thinker said, the ttp offers something which the so called “Islamic” republic of pakistan (I don’t see how an state that partakes in riba can be considered islamic) doesn’t: an Islamic form of government. The ttp also uses our subservience to the US as a justification. What ppl fail to realize is that to defeat those motivated by ideology you have to fight with ideology.

    TTP says pakistan’s subservience to the US is partly the reason why they’re doing this? Fine, end the alliance with the US. It’s ironic b/c you won’t even hear many complaints over this. In fact most Pakistanis will ask why it took so long.

    TTP says that they want to form an Islamic form of government? Fine this is also easily rectified. Once again except for the liberal minority, most won’t complain. Most of pakistan is still religious.

    These are TTP’s 2 major reasons. Take away these and what other major reason will they have left to exist? Take away their base and the rest will fall.

    • All 321 does is advocate surrendering to the Taliban?…Pakistan is a democracy and the Taliban want their version of sharia to take control of the government…sharia will not help Pakistan in the 21 st century and anyone who thinks this is out of touch with reality…Taliban are Islamic militants no different than Boko Haram…if you want life in Pakistan to get worse than it is now…introduce sharia law and reject everything western…you will become Nigeria in no time!…

      • You don’t get it mate…. let them get exactly that. Six months under shariah – and they’ll be begging to get out of it.

        Beware what you wish for – you just might get it.

        I’m a strong advocate that Pakistan must get exactly that. Break ties with the USA and form a regressive govt that will take it back to the stone age.

  3. Pakistan was created in the name of Islam but when someone wants to implement sharia law, pakistan objects. TTP was born because Pakistan supported Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan under Taliban but when it came to implementing islamic sharia pakistan was not willing. This exposed pakistani double standards and when Pakistan supported US and NATO against the islamic forces TTP waged a war.

    Pakistan is unhappy with the West, unhappy with Malala, unhappy with Karzai,pakistan is not a secular nation and she wants to be a champion of Islam so why Pakistan Army and the govt. are fighting TTP? Pakistan keeps suspending and changing its constitution so there is no sanctity of the constitution also.

    Having supported the taliban philosophy for years for the afghans, Pakistan finds it difficult to swallow the pill herself. Pakistan still supports Afghan Taliban and shelters them, then with what face she opposes TTP? The only way out is to blame it on India. No one can help if one tries to fool himself.

  4. Sharia has nothing to do with its just a tactic the TTP is using to win hearts and minds. The reality is the whole area was very calm before Musharraf bowed to US pressure and led an all out offensive in wazirstan. The PAK army and Air force killed many civilians from shelling and air raids this was the PRIMARY recruiter for the insurgency in FATA -Revenge. All the while the US used pashtun agents from the kabul regime to flood weapons to the militants hence why they were able to get to swat. The disastrious Musharraf policy in wazirstan led to the current problems facing pakistan today. And nawaz sharif is adopting the very same policy all because the US is bribing his government with 3 billion a year. With the blow back of the last offensive resulting in pakistan losing 100,000 ppl and billions lost from attacks all across pakistan, i wonder the blowback from the latest offensive, the DISINTREGATION of pakistan?.

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