Civilian government needs international support

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of PTH

by Bilal Qureshi

My heart sank when I read “ISLAMABAD: A wave of suicide bombings, coordinated grenade, bomb and gun assaults, and drive-by shootings  blamed  on militants has left more than 190 people dead in Pakistan so far this month. on Dawn. Is this the same Pakistan that some Western countries accuse of ‘not doing enough’ in the fight against terror? Yes, it is nauseating, but Pakistan has been accused of ‘secretly’ working with the Taliban for reasons still unknown.

Unfortunately, so far, no one has come forward to accept his/her mistake about being wrong about Pakistan’s sincerity in the fight against the Taliban. Worse, the support that is being offered is still measured and cautious with room for later criticism, if necessary.

This is not right and this is not fair.

It is worth repeating, yet again, that Pakistan has paid the ultimate price for a war that Pakistanis neither wanted, nor was it started by Pakistan. Therefore, decency dictates that every nation and every country that is a target for  the Taliban come forward to support Pakistan without ifs and but instead of repeating the same old tired line that ‘we are with Pakistan in this fight. In the words of an ordinary Pakistan’ “no, no,  we don’t want you with us if you don’t give us the equipment and provide Islamabad with all the resources that are needed in this fight.” Rhetoric , not backed by concrete support is, well, useless to put it mildly.

Given the mood on the street in Pakistan, it is not difficult to understand that this might be the last time that Pakistan’s public would allow the country to become a battlefield for global conflicts. Also, this is pretty much the last chance for not only for Pakistan to survive as a country, but also for the Western democracies to respond properly to a situation that has the potential to get out of hand.

No question this fight in Pakistan is Pakistan’s fight, but it was not always like this. Pakistan sided with Western countries and in the process, it became Pakistan’s war. Now, Pakistan can’t go forward alone and it can’t go back to the time when Moscow decided to invade Afghanistan. Just like Pakistan took a stand at the time of Afghan invasion by the Russians, it is time for the West to take a stand, united stand against the Taliban and in support of Pakistan instead of critiquing Pakistan from the safety and comfort of their distant countries. Everyone has to participate and only than Pakistan will defeat the thugs, once and for all.

But, Pakistan can’t do it alone, and this crucial, but simple factor must not be forgotten.

Equally important is the need to not get dragged in Pakistan’s domestic politics, especially for Washington. For example, Richard Hoolbrooke regularly meets with Nawaz Sharif and after every meeting, Nawaz Sharif and his team claim that Richard Hoolbrooke was reminded that Pakistan is not ready to give up its independence and Washington must respect Islamabad. Similarly, couple of days after Kerry met Nawaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif declared that Kerry was unable to satisfy him. What? If you were not satisfied by Kerry’s explaining of Kerry Lugar or any other matters, why didn’t you tell us this at the time instead of hugs and kisses? Americans have to understand this difficult component of Pakistan’s impossible domestic politics when it comes to fighting the Taliban.

The current government has gambled everything by taking on the Taliban and now, there is no turning back. If Pakistan did not fully succeed in decisively crushing the Taliban, the threat to Pakistan would continue to resurface and it is not easy to launch massive operations like Wazirstan and Swat. World leaders should come forward to do their part in this fight against the Taliban. Remember, God forbid if Pakistan failed to defeat the Taliban, Washington, London, Paris, Tokyo and countless other countries would become the next target for the Taliban. Therefore, it is important to strengthen Pakistan, assist the current government, and not encourage pro Taliban leaders like Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan type characters by meeting with them



Filed under Pakistan

13 responses to “Civilian government needs international support

  1. Ali Abbas


    Sadly, the Pakistani establishment has always supported the Taliban. BB was probably dismissed the second time around because of her lukewarm support for the “strategic depth” theory. When she came out openly against the Taliban and its Wahabi ideology, she was killed. I know Bhutto-bashing is the sport for our drawing room elites, one cannot fault her for her courage in openly and unequvivocally condemning the Taliban in her last days; something that her spineless “civil society” detractors cannot claim to have.

    Now the chickens have come home to roost. You are right though that hypocrates like NS and Imran Khan need to be called out and the Govt. (civilian) needs to be supported; something that is clearly not the case when the military-bureaucracy establishment and its Islamist proxies in the media, civil society and opposition have sharpened their daggers and are going at it with the Govt.

  2. neel123

    It has been a tradition in Pakistan that people never had any clue about what the ruling establishment ( read the Army and the ISI ) did, Kargil being the best example. The Pakistani media was taken by surprise when they saw reporting about it in the Indian media, and the initial reaction was to dismiss it as figment of imagination.

    Sadly, the tradition is continuing even today. The elected Govt. of Gilani and Zardari has no clue or control over certain things that the Army and the ISI actually do in the so called war on terror.

    As long as the people of Pakistan allow that to happen, there will not be any real change in the dynamics of the AfPak region.

  3. Neel: The elected government and the army are working together to save the country and for a change there is a consensus on fighting extremism.
    I am afraid your comments are a little dated and reinforce a stereotype..

  4. T SW

    A few good reads on KLB aftermaths and the power game played:

    The real mystery of the KLB debate

    Kerry Lugar Bill and Pakistan’s internal power game

  5. Muslims pride in the belief of the afterlife and respect for our current existence. But now it seems we just don’t give a damn about it all. If I were to tell you that a governor was appointed for paying massive amounts of dollars or a minister is making money by selling LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) files, I can guarantee you no less than a thousand emails and text messages would be circulating Pakistan. We are not a nation of drama queens. Enough is enough!

  6. Gabban

    Rumi saheb,

    Pardon me… the elected government and the army are working together to save the country and for a change there is a consensus on fighting extremism ?

    I am afraid your comments are incorrect and reinforce a stereotype self denial … !

    The army of Pakistan is not working to save the country, it is fighting to save its ‘hafta’ from the USA and has got the opportunity to do away with the group of people who have gone out of their control.

    Please contribute your mite to rid Pakistan of the present leadership of ISI, the Chief of Army and its Corp commanders to save Pakistan.

  7. PatExpat


    I would agree with Gabban and am quoting below what Kamran Shafi has written in his last few columns in DAWN:

    “Amidst all of this, the security establishment persists in leaking stories to the press about the unacceptability of the language used in the Kerry-Lugar bill in what can only be called trying to stare the government down. What purpose this will achieve, apart from destabilising the ‘bloody civilians’ a little bit more, only our Rommels and Guderians can tell us.

    What we already know, however, is that the US Congress has put more conditions on military aid to Pakistan, due not only to the ill-thought out ramblings of the Commando while giving lectures in places such as Sioux Falls, SD but also due to the mindless press release issued so arrogantly by GHQ. ”

    “Or is it the case that the only reason the American boot has landed on the proverbial cat’s tail is because the US Congress wants to see more civilian control of the military; its budget; its promotions to higher ranks et al, all of which happens in democratic, civilised countries? (By the by, in India, promotions and postings of brigadiers/commodores/air commodores and above are subject to approval by the civilian authority.) But no, not in our country where the army considers itself above all else, and arrogates to itself the right to rule supreme. It forgets, of course, that its sycophant’s songs of praise notwithstanding, it has always left the country in a bigger mess than it was in when it took over.

    This brings me to a totally misplaced, almost dishonest, likening of the ISPR’s ill-considered press release with the protest of Foreign Office (FO) officers to prevent the posting of a junior DMG officer to Paris as ambassador. How are the two similar, please? The FO did not come out with a statement by its spokesman opposing the appointment. What happened there was that retired ambassadors wrote articles in the press and some FO officers went to court in opposition to the posting. In which way are the two actions comparable?

    Also, what is so wrong with the Americans demanding the army stay within the limits imposed upon it by the constitution of Pakistan when all of us have been demanding the exact same for years? Furthermore, it is none other than successive American administrations, mainly Republican, who have supported military dictators against the people of Pakistan – remember the struggle to restore our superior judiciary? ”

    “So, gentlemen, why the discourteous, nay rebellious reaction to the Kerry-Lugar bill? Bullying the ‘bloody civilians,’ eh? After all your great forebear even gave out the TO&E (table of organisation and equipment) of the Pakistan Army in such detail? Surely the bit about the secretary of state certifying ever so often that the bloody civilians in Pakistan ‘exercise effective control of the military…’!?

    I can only appeal to President Obama not to change a single word in the bill except ‘or the reallocation of Pakistan’s financial resources that would otherwise be spent for programmes and activities unrelated to its nuclear weapons programme.’

    For that is our money. Otherwise tell ‘em to take it or leave it. Our Rommels and Guderians are not about to alight from their top of the line BMWs and Mercedes and climb into Suzuki Mehrans. “

  8. PatExpat

    however I disagree with this part:

    “Please contribute your mite to rid Pakistan of the present leadership of ISI, the Chief of Army and its Corp commanders to save Pakistan.”

  9. Jalal Ahmad

    Mr Qureshi
    Taliban are the brain child of Zaheer-ud-din Babar if you want to know and he used to take pride in calling them his creation.
    Labeling Nawaz Shareef and Imran Khan as Taliban sympathizers is outrageous. As far as Imran Khan is concerned he speaks truth and the truth is like you said that this is not our war and Waziristan was peaceful before government broke it’s part of the deal i.e. peace accord. Now I am not saying the current operation should not continue. It is the battle of our survival but if you are quoting historical reference please refrain from misguiding young generation who have little knowledge of who created Taliban.
    Nawaz Shareef backed the government in swat and now in Waziristan so I don’t know what makes you think he is Taliban sympathizer.
    It is time to unite in our fight against terrorism and not shifting blames. But worst is when you blatantly lie to distort the historical facts.

  10. yasserlatifhamdani

    “Taliban are the brain child of Zaheer-ud-din Babar if you want to know and he used to take pride in calling them his creation.”

    No way! The Mughal Emperor?

  11. Ali Abbas

    @ Jalal,

    I think you meant Naseerullah Babur! Yes, both he and Hamid Gul used to take credit for the “creation” of the Taliban. The theory of “strategic depth”” was foisted on BB and like her first term, foreign policy perogatives were always with GHQ. Unlike Nawaz Sharif, BB publically went on record against them (and paid dearly) and in her book, she unequvivocally condemned their facist ideology and provided some understanding of the issues.

    Nawaz Sharif is on record of urging the Govt. to “talk” to the Taliban, even as the latter are killing thousands of Pakistanis and brazenly taking credit for doing so. Senior PML N leaders were still issuing Pro-Taliban statements and their boss is more concerned with earning populist points on riding the wave of anti-American sentiment that is being generated by JI and a Pro-Taliban media.
    He sucked up to Kerry wearing a suit and promptly after the former left, restarted dissing the KLB. Ideologically, his party and him are strongly linked to JI; however even they realize that in order to win big at the election ballot box, they need to mantain a quasi secular face as Islamist parties have never fared well in even relatively fair elections. Imran Khan is a complete hypocrite who sucked up to Musharaf till his Prime Minister ambitions were dashed by the latter. Regarding his stance on Waziristan, it is an indication on how bigotted and dishonest the man is. Waziristan heated up because the Taliban were temporarily routed in Afghanistan and needed to regroup in Pakistan (in Waziristan and Quetta) while the establishment played the double game of half-heartedly going against them for the Americans but ensuring that their leadership remained intact and their numbers swelled and their training optimized and improved.

    Imran Khan dishonestly paints the picture that Pakistan was ok till there was no military action launched in Waziristan. This arguement is facetious because the Taliban militants there were already challenging the writ of the State and providing a sanctuary to thousands of Wahabi Arabs, Chechan, Uzbeks and Uighir militants and using Pakistan territory as a launching pad for foreign adventures.

    Refer to the following link to see what happened in Waziristan in 2004:

    One can see Imran Khan’s interaction with Prof. Hoodbhoy in the following note which I am partially reproducing below:

    “In an encounter on TV ( between two old public school boys, Pervez Hoodbhoy reprimanded Imran Khan for failing to criticize through the media the atrocities of the Talibans. IK made the unbelievable assertion that the press did not carry his criticism of the Talibs. It was later made known by Dr Hoodbhoy that Imran Khan has lost his cool off camera and almost assaulted him!

    Unfortunately the program failed to show irrefutable evidence of clear support for the Talibs by IK that is available at, where Imran is seen saying that Talibs and their atrocities were actually State propaganda! ”

    In Quetta, foreign journalists had already exposed how the Taliban were moving around freely in 2002. This was accompanied by the pogroms and mass murder of Hazara Shias in Quetta culminating in the 2004 Ashura massacre where more than 50 were killed.

    The nexus of Deobandi-Wahabi militants who had the full backing of the State due to their “utility” in its foreign and domestic policy imperatives were killing Christains, Shias, Brehlvis and Ahmadis since the early 1990’s. They had already massacred hundreds of Shias in Gilgit and Parachinar in the 1980’s. The dishonest posturing of Imran Khan and his Pro-Taliban media cheer leaders that the militancy problem in Pakistan is due to its siding with the US after 9/11 is not only false, it smacks of their own ingrained bigotry.

  12. Jalal Ahmad

    Naseerullah Babar I mean. Thanks for the correction though..
    It took everything out of a serious discussion..
    The man was 100+ years old when we were kids so forgot his name….lol

  13. Puzzled

    The title of this article includes the key component “international support” which requires some re-thinking.

    The jihad against USSR in Afghanistan started with the same so-called “international support”. In 1979, Jihad in Afghanistan was not proclaimed primarily to defend American or any other nation’s interest in the region. It was proclaimed to halt the USSR’s next probable move of the invasion of Pakistan. The government at the time, tactfully used the historic cold war context to draw Americans into funding the war that was ‘solely’ for the “defence and the sovereignty of Pakistan”. It was strategic, it was ‘internal’ not ‘international’.

    One might argue that there is no such thing as true ‘international support’. Indeed there are international business interests, international trade, and strategic defence establishments that may lead to the coalitions of willing.

    A support by foreign players in any way shape or form will inevitably be accompanied by ‘foreign strategic interventions’.

    Pakistan ought to learn from the history and muster “internal support” this time around rather than “international support”. Pakistan ought to denounce its dependency on the world for everything it faces. Selling Pakistan short is not the answer!