Pakistan Is Looking For The Right Doctor – OpEd


When a patient undergoes a wrong antibiotic treatment, either of the two reactions is likely: the harmless bacteria upgrades its anti-bacterial resistance or the potentially harmful one gets a steroid shot, replaces the harmless one and goes berserk – Thus are the directions given to every doctor.

The heavily screened patient, Pakistan, has been going through a bonanza of wrong antibiotic treatments at the hands of policymakers, hereinafter referred to as doctors. The establishments’ gloved hand, in this regard, tops the leaderboard trailing whom are the Royal houses of Jati Umra – Raiwand and Larkana with Tabdeeli party just wheezing its way with “let peace be given another chance” pompoms.

Though each of these doctors has this habit of dancing to its own music on matters pertaining to the patient, Pakistan, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) historically has distinguished itself in bringing all these doctors together to a collective failure dance of three step rumba: “Invade, negotiate, and let the leverage wheeze away”. The dance starts with operations: Operation Sunrise (The Lal Masjid siege) in 2007, is followed by negotiations: surrendering Swat and FATA to Sufi Muhammad and TTP in 2009, and ends with letting the TTP mushroom into attacking the country’s naval bases, GHQ and shrines.

Albert Einstein rightly calls it insanity – in the matter at hand, insanity with capital I – for the doctors are at the moment again onto the same three step rumba but expecting different results. We are already down to the last step of the dance with the blowing up of check posts, shrines, suicide attacks and worst to come to be the last hurrah and God forbid, a curtain fall for Pakistan; the former two steps being the Zarb-e- Azb operation and FATA merger reversal negotiations. If this policy after every stretch of imaginations sounds absurd, it is because it is, a research paper may very well be written on this policy titled “How not to tackle the insurgents: A Policy overview of Pakistan’s TTP Policy.” The Doctors, hitherto, have decided not to learn from history and are thus damned and doomed to repeat it.

In situations such as this, the first families, the party of change, the shadowlands and other stakeholders need a thorough return to factory reset settings on their TTP policy as revisions and updates to this software haven’t delivered in the past and will not do in the future. The simple logic falls far short of rocket science in understanding that if a policy isn’t giving the desired results even after 15 continuous years of state patronage, then something is going wrong somewhere and that somewhere needs fixing. It’s about time Pakistan decides that it cannot afford to have its policies made any further in that somewhere – the drawing rooms – of the time and again failed grubby Brahmins and their accomplices but in the policy houses of the young, the best and the brightest of the country.

Then again, in retrospect, how did we end up here is the logical climax of taking the worst possible decisions at every turn of the event. First: our policy focuses on the effects of the problem – the Power hungry leaders comprising mere 1 percent of TTP – rather than the root cause – the jobless and fraught thumb twiddlers who fill up the ranks. The fact that Pakistan officially surrendered its citizens and territory to the might of Sufi Muhammad and TTP in 2009 will haunt it for years to come. Second: FATA merger plan – which was to address the grievances of the 99 percent –  as per the FATA reforms committee’s recommendations, was supposed to be carried out in 5 years but comes our politics of cutting ribbons and digging ditches for the successors; the only area it has historically never disappointed, a clean sweep against the country on record. As a result, after the elimination of FCR, a right step long overdue, ex-FATA and its citizens are abiding by the laws of the Jungle at the moment as there is no functioning institution whatsoever like police or courts to impose the laws of Pakistan in the very territory of Pakistan – we indeed have learned nothing.

Now, what needs doing: Understand TTP. First: TTP of 2023 is way different in its approach from the TTP of 2014. After its 2014 defeat TTP has morphed into a flexible encompassing organization evident through its calls of reconciliations to sects and parties such as Tehreek-e-Labbaik, Barelvis, Pashtoon and Baloch sub-nationalists and separatists, previously called upon by them as infidels, Mulhid or whose presence did not matter. Second: TTP has a strong pro-TTP lobby in Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, IEA and the so-called Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), an operation of the previous sort on TTP will not be welcomed by Kabul as they are already in an eyeball-to-eyeball tussle with ISKP. The IEA would rather boost its rank by denouncing Pakistan than fighting someone else’s war on their soil and that too against their former brothers-in-arms. Third; TTP has deliberately distanced itself from the likes of ISIS and Al-Qaida following the footsteps of its predecessors, The Afghan Taliban. The bottom line of their new policy on every media outlet runs “We deal only in Pakistan” hence expect no aid from the US and other European countries this time.

Hence in a situation such as drawn above, the battlefield should be drawn along psychological lines rather than the physical ones. Focus the roots and causes – the economically stricken citizen who takes refuge in the TTP as a last resort for they have no source and arenas of income back home – and not the upshoots and symptoms – the power-hungry instigators who thrive on crisis and who would be there even if you rain hell on them. And for once, for this country’s sake, act along on the FATA reforms committee’s recommendations, don’t make it another National Action Plan.

So, whether it be the Royal Houses of Larkana, Raiwand, their unity government, the Gloved Hand or the Tabdeeli Party, know that if you continue with your wrong antibiotic treatment and the time and again proven wrong science projects, the bacteria, TTP, will morph into a leviathan. The clock is ticking and so are our chances for a peaceful Pakistan.

Better do something while you can.

Asmat Durrani is working as Assistant Research Fellow at Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN), Quetta

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