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?
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.