By Khaled Ahmed
September 15, 2018
The new chief minister of Punjab is a Sardar
— read feudal lord — from South Punjab’s most abandoned part of Dera Ghazi
Khan. Sardar Usman Buzdar is from Taunsa Sharif, which has no electricity.
Taunsa has been the incubator of the proxy warriors Pakistan used in
Afghanistan and India and produced leadership for the anti-Shia sectarian
banned outfit called Sipah-e-Sahaba, honoured in the country for supplying
In 1947, the British Raj bequeathed to the
Muslims of India a tightly administered state. But next door Afghanistan
couldn’t be called a normal state. It couldn’t prevent penetration of its
territory and it couldn’t collect taxes. But the great proxy war in Afghanistan
was approved by the West, fighting its decisive battle with the Soviet Union
after the latter invaded Afghanistan in 1979.
Pakistan soon began imitating Afghanistan
by losing its own writ. Karachi was literally taken over by terrorist groups
operating in Afghanistan and Iran. It is still crippled by street crime. Today,
Pakistan has a National Action Plan (NAP) “to crack down on terrorism”, and a
National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) to restore its state authority.
But both remain notable for lack of success.
Although no city has been spared by
terrorists, some areas of the country are seriously lacking in the state’s
outreach. Terrorism that challenged the sovereign state came from many
quarters, all of them related to the ideology Pakistan was wedded to. Its
Taliban were fighting in Afghanistan and the Afghan Taliban was ensconced in
Pakistan together with over 3 million Afghan refugees.
The tribal areas, which Pakistan wrongly
left out of normal administration as some kind of tribal museum, were more
infested with warriors than the rest of the country. Each tribal agency was
allowed “self-rule” through warlords. Some of these satrapies were adjacent to
big cities and were allowed to extract booty as the police watched.
The 2008 Khyber Agency war by terrorist
Lashkar-e-Islam unfolded right under the nose of the administration in
Peshawar. The Kurram Agency war proved too much for Islamabad as it spread to
adjacent Aurakzai and Mohmand agencies, coming down to the settled districts of
the old Frontier Province, Hangu and Kohat. Even in 2018, the Pakistani Taliban
in Afghanistan can get anyone killed in Peshawar on demand.
These “ungoverned” areas of Pakistan
provided 40 per cent of the warriors fighting to establish a Taliban state in
Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban populated cities like Quetta and Karachi.
Pakistan denied hosting Arab warriors like Osama bin Laden and Aiman
Al-Zawahiri, who were discovered living comfortably in Abbottabad and Karachi
In the hinterland of Sindh, the Wadera
(feudal lord) never allowed the police to function normally and has not
accepted the writ of the state to this day. Add to this hiatus of state
authority the territory of South Punjab, where the madrasa still rules and the
state obeys orders. When a brave Punjab home secretary killed Malik Ishaq, the
leader of Daesh-connected Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, in a police encounter in Lahore in
2017, he was chased to his house in the north and killed to scare the Punjab
police out of their wits.
In May 2012, the chief justice of the
Peshawar High Court stated that the writ of the Peshawar government did not run
beyond 10 km. Pakistan looked like waking up when Swat valley was occupied by
Pakistani Taliban in 2009. It took action, but Fazlullah, the leader of the
Taliban, fled into Afghanistan. He got little Malala Yusufzai nearly killed.
Pakistan couldn’t do much. All its enemies were killed by its archenemy, the
US, with drones. Today, Pakistan refuses to believe that it is falling apart.
And that its writ has disappeared from 60 per cent of its territory; and
foreign killers are still hiding in its territory.