Providing Clear Knowledge To The World About The Swat Operation

Posted on February 15, 2010


By Mehroz Siraj Sadruddin
14 May, 2009

Over the last few months, the media in Pakistan and around the world has been filled with news reporting, analysis and commentary on the ongoing military operations in Pakistan’s North-western regions of SWAT, Malakand and Waziristan.
Under extreme pressure from Washington and from the people of Pakistan who have borne the brunt of the casualties and other externalities of George W. Bush’s failed war on terror, Pakistan’s civilian government and the military’s top brass decided to scrap a controversial peace deal, which had already been violated by the Taliban many times, and to launch a decisive military campaign against the organisation and their allies in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Nearly two and a half months into the military operation and with approximately 3 million people internally displaced, the people of Pakistan are still finding it hard to tell to the world, that why do they believe that it was only now that the army decided to launch a decisive military campaign against these rogue elements who kill innocent people in the name of God.
In order to understand the Pakistani perspective of this military onslaught, we would need to understand the history of the SWAT, Malakand and Waziristan regions.

Over here, I would not go into the actual history about how the American CIA established and funded the Taliban and Al-Qaeda for fighting the Soviet forces in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

My approach towards this issue would start from 9/11 and President Bush’s ill-advised and badly planned assault on a strife –ridden Afghanistan.

Although the military victory over the Taliban was clean and swift, ordinary American and the policymakers failed to understand the long term consequences that the ill-advised military invasion would have on the world in general and Pakistan, in particular.

Felt betrayed by the overnight ‘U’ turn taken by President Musharraf on Pakistan’s foreign policy, the defeated Taliban turned their eyes and minds on to Pakistan and started to re-unite and re-arm in Pakistan’s tribal areas over the last few years.

As the resolve of the Musharraf government to defeat terror became more strong, these extremist elements resorted to using Islam as a justification to carry out terrorist attacks all around the country.

General Musharraf himself survived two assassination attempts.

Most intelligence information obtained by the army’s intelligence organization, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and independent research shows that the only reason because of which the well armed extremists have been able to pose great resistance to the army, is because of the external funding that these groups are getting.

There is actually every reason to believe that the obtained intelligence information is substantive enough for the government and the military to openly speak out and expose the role that external agencies are playing in order to destabilize Pakistan.

Firstly, lets take a look at Pakistan’s history.
At the time of partition of British India in 1947, Pakistan comprised of two wings, West Pakistan and East Pakistan, which broke up in 1971 and became the independent state of Bangladesh.

Political upheavels in the Eastern wing, mainly because of the language controversy, lesser political representation and the public outrage at ‘One Unit Scheme’ passed in September 1955, were generally kept away from global attention until open and condemnable Indian involvement was witnessed, especially in the wake of the Agartala conspiracy of 1968.
India’s subsequent assistance in arming the Bengali rebel group, the Mukti Bahini and India’a political support to the power-hungry and increasingly divisive leader Sheikh Mujibur Rehman only hastened the fall of East Pakistan, where political situation was once under strong control and regulation of the Army and government.

Pakistanis today give reference to this particular event of their history when they say that any force which can challenge the army within Pakistan’s geographic borders can not succeed in its evil intention to destablize the country, without being well funded and well armed by international intelligence agancies.
Coming back to the situation today, evidence is slowly and gradually coming out which suggests that the terror campaigns of the Taliban and the resistance that they have shown so far, may actually be a well-coordinated effort, handsomely funded by those agencies which have historically never wanted to see Pakistan progressing as a strong
democratic state.

After damning news reports appearing in the US and international media regarding the lack of security for NATO weapons in Afghanistan, the American administration did admit that these weapons were being ‘stolen’.
However, considering the huge quantities of weapons seized, it seems unreasonable to simply believe that these weapons were merely ‘stolen’ from NATO’s ammunition dumps in Afghanistan.

These weapons actually include a wide variety of arms, ranging from machine guns to serious damange causing weapons like laser guns, missile technology and even armoured vehicles like the Humvees.

First evolving evidence of presence of these weapons came when the spokesman of the Pakistan army, Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told a press conference on May 29 that American weapons had been seized from major Taliban strongholds which had either been taken over by the army or destroyed.
Pakistani journalist Ahmed Qureishi wrote on his own website about the presence of the Indian made‘Vickers Berthier’ machine guns in the Tribal Areas, which the terrorists had used against the Pakistan Army.
Pakistan’s major Urdu language newspapers have been carrying confirmed and well researched reports about the involvement of Israeli, Russian, Indian and American agencies providing training and weaponry to the terrorists.

These news reports have also gone ahead to say that agencies of these countries have also been providing the technology to Pakistani extremists, most notably the hardcore terrorist, Maulana Fazlullah, to set up illegal radio stations spreading sectarian, ethnic and religious hatred (in clear defiance of the government) .

Another evidence which supports these facts is that since the end of the Afghan War, many of the trained millitants joining the ranks of the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, actually hailed from the Middle East and Central Asia.

In fact the very concept of the Taliban and the idea of imposing rule of law by resorting to horrendous terror, is something completely alien to the culture and social values of the Pashtun/ Pathan communities of North Western Pakistan, who have lived here for centuries.

The general idea of the Taliban and imposition of strict Shariah Law had actually been imported from Afghanistan, as an off-shoot of the Saudi brand of rigid Islam, known as Wahhabi Islam.

The main purpose of these strict religious laws was mainly to restrict the regional impact of the Shiite Islamic Revolution in Iran of the late 1970s, as leaders in the Sunni majority neigbouring Pakistan believed that the revolution could create political problems for that country.

The ideas being propagated by the Taliban have been complete aliens for the people of Pakistan, where the dominant form of religious understanding and practice has been ‘Sufism’, which teaches about love towards humanity and does openly accept democracy as the only valid form of governance authorized in Islam.

Religious practices which are followed in Pakistan by communities such as the Ismaili community, the Bohras and the Memon communities (which is a Sunni conservative community) actually inculcate the the spirit of unity, equality, humility, hard work and democracy within the hearts and souls of ordinary Pakistanis.
People across the Western world do not understand these things, which have played a key role in the massive swings of public opinion against the Taliban (and their heinous terror practices) in Pakistan.

What adds salt to the wounds is the fact, that rather than challenging this ignorance of the White people, the western media, the 24 hour television news cycle and the massive public relations industry in the developed world, only reinforces these misperceptions.

All this mass hysteria, sheer ignorance and lack of knowledge of Pakistani languages and cultures in the West, is generally being seen in that country and the wider Muslim World as part of a concerted and well-focused international conspiracy to destroy Pakistan from within.

These facts are never mentioned in the bastions of good journalism in the Western media, such as the New York Times or The Washington Post.
It is good to see that a major consensus between Washington, London and Islamabad arising is that the battle for the hearts and minds needs to be won in order to ensure long lasting peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas.

However, it needs to be clearly understood and forcefully ascertained that this battle can not be won till the time the Western governments and the masses do not come out of their veils and curtains of self-destructive ignorance.
Just as much as the western politicians and law makers need to change the way they make their laws and policies, the media must also change its posture and way of reporting on international issues.

Those who speak about practicing good investigative journalism, should practice that as well, in all its entire honesty.

News coverage which is bereft of any accuracy and laughable does not serve our good intentions of removing the levels of ignorance and journalistic inaccuracies so that this battle of hearts and minds can be won in Pakistan’s tribal areas and in Afghanistan.

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Melbourne and can be reached at