Islam Edit Bureau
Mohammad Ali Babakhel
Post 9/11: The Pain And Gain
The Pope Visits Pakistan
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
conflict introduces new innovative techniques and targets. While terrorists
have always considered improvised explosive devices (IEDs) a handy option, the
frequency of IED attacks has increased since 9/11.
known as homemade bombs, may be time- or remote-triggered, and are usually
planted along the roadside and detonated when their targets pass through in
their vehicles. They are attractive to extremists in Pakistan, Afghanistan and
Iraq because they are cheap, easy to make and minimise their own casualties as
compared to suicide bombing.
technology has undoubtedly accelerated its use, some form of IED has been in
use in warfare for centuries. The use of the term ‘improvised’ is suggestive of
its makeshift nature — used by insurgencies with a lack of access to superior
weaponry but the desire to inflict maximum damage.
Pakistan, Balochistan, Fata and KP are the worst IED-affected areas. In
Afghanistan, Kandahar and Helmand are particularly affected. The proliferation
of IEDs is more dangerous than that of arms and ammunition. Over the past
decade, casualties of IED attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan amount to
more than any other form of extremist violence.
to extremists because they are easy to make.
17,499 civilians were killed or injured by IEDs across the world — in 2013,
this number increased to 26,887. In 2013, 73.4pc of civilian casualties
resulted from explosive weaponry — hence terrorist organisations increasing
reliance on this method. In 2013, the militant Islamic State group carried out
4,465 IED attacks. In 2014, the number of civilian casualties from bombings
rose by 5pc and the bombings incident rate increased by 11pc globally from
A total of
1,953 IED blasts have been registered in KP from 2004-14; 2013 being the worst
year, and Peshawar, Charsadda, Swabi, Swat, and Bannu being the worst affected.
The frequency and location of attacks reveal the proximity, and vulnerability,
of tribal areas in KP and some pockets of Balochistan. On Sept 16, 2013, a
major general lost his life in a roadside IED attack on military vehicles in
Upper Dir. Such ‘successful’ missions boost the morale of hidden enemies.
the destructive consequences of IEDs requires both timely intelligence and
highly trained Bomb Disposal Staff. A few years ago BDS in KP were stationed
only in Peshawar. Realising the enormity of the challenge, KP’s police
management sought to ensure the availability of BDS services in other parts of
the province — increasing its size up to 500 officials and opening Pakistan’s
first explosives handling school in Nowshera. Since 2008, BDS in KP have
defused about 6,000 IEDs. So far, 15 officials have lost their lives in the
process. One such person was Inspector Hukam Khan, who had defused 200 IEDs in
Sindh police have started to use robotics for detection. The anti-IED robot can
climb stairs, detect an IED or other explosive device within a radius of one
kilometre, and is capable of defusing a suicide jacket with minimal chance of
explosion. This technology was first used in the security protocols for a
religious procession in Karachi. Still, the non-availability of equipment and
technology is a serious issue for law enforcement.
post 9/11, donors donated state-of-the-art equipment but owing to capacity
issues the dividends of technology are yet to be attained.
to a 2010 study by the New America Foundation, “from 2002-09, 701 [IED attacks]
in Balochistan, 368 in Helmand and 689 in Kandahar were reported. With 180 IED
explosions in Balochistan, 2006 proved most horrible”. During this period,
there were 226 casualties as a result of 177 incidents in Dera Bugti, and 827
casualties in 242 incidents in Quetta. The highest casualty rate was 8.9 per
IED incident for Nimroz, Afghanistan — the rate was 4.2 for Quetta.
pattern of IED attacks in Balochistan, it transpires that the architects of
these attacks primarily targeted vital installations such as railway tracks,
electric towers, gas pipelines and bridges — hence avoiding major human
casualties. By doing so, their prime objective was to disrupt the pace of
persistently upgrade their tactics — now placing explosives inside the vehicle,
popularly known as ‘vehicle-borne improvised explosive device’. VBIED attacks
have escalated worldwide in the past few years; 484 car bombings were reported
in 2013, as compared to only 156 car bombings in 2011.
enemy is being strengthened, owing to easy availability of cheap bomb-making
components, such as fertiliser and batteries, in the marketplace, and the
proliferation of bomb-making expertise. Its disappearance from use in the near
future seems a remote possibility considering its effectiveness — but steps
must be taken, and the prevention of its proliferation requires organised and
The writer, Mohammad Ali Babakhel, is a police
Post 9/11: The Pain and Gain
prevail. The Afghan government should encourage a more peaceful approach and
realise that it cannot afford to lose the support that Pakistan extends it to
deal with militancy in the region. Breeding mistrust and resentment will not
help. The construction at the Torkham border was a completely legitimate course
of action for Pakistan to take. Afghan aggression at Torkham speaks the mind
that is misguided and not ready for peace.
economic cost of war on terror would take years to recover. Despite heavy human
and financial cost, Pakistan remains committed to eliminate extremism and
militancy from its soil.
in Pakistan before and following 9/11 have essential linkage reflecting on the
continuity of political development, particularly in the context of
Pak-US-Afghan relations, and the continuing war on terror. This required full
understanding for getting a real feel of what Pakistan had gone through after
its decision to participate in the war on terror and the price it had paid.
Post 9/11 Pakistan by this author, published in the United States, informs
about and compares the American dream and the vision of a prosperous Pakistan,
how that vision needs to be actualised and the kind of leadership it requires.
There was dire need for policies and international cooperation for
counterterrorism. Speedy action was required to do right things and do things
right, especially in context of impact of “war on terror” and the menace of
challenges, as the articles in the book suggest, need to be addressed
effectively, allowing the country to attain new heights. Pakistan is an
important country in the region with many strengths and opportunities. It is a
huge market of over 180 million people, rich in natural resources and some of
the better institutions of the region and nuclear capability. Above all, its
people despite passing through rough times are resilient and eager to bring
change. Experts in Pakistan and the United States are of the opinion that this
book would help those who want to bring change in Pakistan for the better.
Pakistan can create the future. They are keen to let democracy succeed, to
promote diplomatic initiatives and shun violence, to work for national
development through international cooperation and deliberate approaches for
world peace, and to strengthen institutions established for world peace and
security and development and for humanitarian assistance. For achieving all
these objectives there is need to promote a culture of diversity, assimilation
and integration. The United States as the only superpower has the
responsibility as well as the means to help actualise these objectives with a
It must be
understood that war is not a continuation of the political process carried on
with other means. War is continuation not of politics but a consequence of
political and diplomatic failure.
Pakistan, as a book, is unique in its spirit and character as it is a
compilation of articles written for over a decade, since the September 11, 2001
attacks in the Twin Towers in New York, which marked a paradigm shift in the
global economic and socio-geographic politics, particularly in context of the
Pak-US-Afghan relations, and the war on terrorism and extremism. The book also
covers circumstances in which Pakistan got itself involved in the war on
terror. In that context, this book is a historical document that captures the
evolution and the progression of this phenomenon, as and when it happened. The
book is an engaging, real life account of the evolution of socio-political
dynamics between the United States and Pakistan since September 11, 2001,
having significant implication for regional and international politics. The
active role in war on Terror has created more problems and got Pakistan more
enemies. The United States had used coercive diplomacy to get Pakistan’s
support and cooperation. After more than a decade of war, now analysts may
conclude that Pakistan’s decision to agree to be a part of the US-led coalition
was perhaps based on misjudgements and without due deliberation.
Post 9/11 Pakistan highlights the thoughts and opinions and the ground
realities in Pakistan, most of which remained obscured from the international
media, as Pakistan has fought internally and externally for the war on terror.
The book touches on contemporaneous issues relating to foreign policy,
political challenges of the government especially governance, service delivery
and, more importantly, the direction that government should follow. A large
number of events were happening, and the predictability of outcomes was
difficult to envisage in medium and long term.
policy in Pakistan impinges on all other policies, be these economic or
political, and therefore, the direction of the government in Pakistan has been
changing accordingly. Due to change in foreign policy, in 1980s and subsequent
years, space was provided to regressive forces, which changed the whole
direction of the country. Extremism, militancy and terrorism came to grip the
economy and society. Institutional decline and increasing incapacity resulted
because of weakening of the writ of the state.
geo-strategic location, relations with neighbouring countries and the United
States in particular are the focus of the book especially in context of war on
terror. The country is faced with “deficit of resources” as well as “deficit of
trust” as a consequence and result of internal and external multiple
complexities and changes. There is need to build strong Pak-US relationship.
Let us rethink about the pain and gain and more.
Iftikhar Ahmad is a former director of the
National Institute of Public Administration, a political analyst, public policy
expert and an author. His book Post 9/11 Pakistan has been published in the
two views about the economics of poverty reduction. One, that economic growth
will trickle down and reduce poverty. Two, that there is no automatic
trickle-down and growth may or may not be inclusive. It depends on which
sectors grow, whether growth creates new and better jobs, and whether the poor
are able to take advantage of economic opportunity.
view is largely discredited but this does not mean that we have the magic
formula of what inclusive growth would look like or how it might be brought
about. Then there is a third view that regardless of growth, and actually in
spite of it, there is need for vigorous government action to lift large numbers
of people out of extreme poverty.
is a good time to take stock of all these things and to ask whether we see any
useful ideas for poverty reduction. But what actually is poverty in a country
like Pakistan? There are the usual numbers and debates about them. How many per
cent below the poverty line — 9pc or 30pc? Has the ratio gone up or down? How
can it have gone down when everyone feels miserable? Is the poverty line
appropriate? What is the best way of setting it? Is the data any good — how do
we improve it?
of how we look at the poverty numbers, some things are virtually uncontested.
Around half our people do not get an adequate diet and around a third of our
families go hungry at times. Around half our children are undernourished — they
are physically small compared to a healthy population. And these undernourished
children are far more likely to die young than children who have normal weight
and height. Nearly two in five children of primary school age are not in
How can the
instruments of policy reach the poor to help improve their lives?
Unfortunately, there are no serious answers to this question at the moment.
is more. The poorest are concentrated in the rural areas of Sindh, southern
Punjab, Balochistan and southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They are likely to be wage
labourers and it is quite likely that women from poor families work for
extremely long hours for extremely low wages to support sectors such as cotton,
dairy and wheat which sustain the economy.
are likely to belong to ‘low’ castes — or groups which are marginalised from
mainstream society and politics due to historical disadvantage based on race,
occupation, religion or some combination of these. The poorest are likely to
face insecure housing conditions, and have unequal access to justice and the
rule of law. In urban areas they are most likely to be migrants from these very
regions, classes and communities, subsist on daily wages, and be the first to
get evicted when there is ‘need’ for land for decent housing or infrastructure.
How can the
instruments of policy reach these people to help improve their lives?
Unfortunately, there are no serious answers to this question at the moment. The
closest we come to the government’s view on poverty reduction is the annual
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. It repeats — without elaboration — the
self-satisfied notion that economic growth in Pakistan is pro-poor, that it
more than trickles — it gushes down. The report then lists and adds up pro-poor
government spending, which mostly comes under the mandate of provincial
virtually all spending on education, health, law and order and other provincial
mandates as well as federal and provincial funding on infrastructure is deemed
to be pro-poor. If most of what government already does is pro-poor, according
to its own words, what more is there to do? Are governments — federal and
provincial — really focusing on the poor when they draw up their spending
priorities, the majority of which appear to be skewed towards what they call
of infrastructure investment can, by itself, generate enough employment to lift
up half the population from the precarious life it leads. But to make sure that
people are protected from the most severe forms of vulnerability is not that
expensive. At around Rs100 billion, the Benazir Income Support Programme, which
is a first and still tentative step in the direction of comprehensive social
protection, costs us less than half of what we spend on the annual subsidy to
the power sector. The programme does not reduce poverty, but at least it
reaches many of the poor, as multiple evaluations have made abundantly clear.
needed is something at an even bigger scale, and in many other sectors such as
housing, health, education, labour rights and child welfare — not the annual
reiteration of what already happens, but something different and real. At the
moment, however, there are no ideas on poverty alleviation in the pipeline
awaiting implementation. Aside from resources, this poverty of ideas further
limits the responsiveness of the state towards the concerns of the poor.
know that poverty is a concern in economic policy and budget-making if we could
imagine what the federal and provincial government might do for a woman cotton
harvester in southern Punjab or Sindh, for her wages and working conditions,
for the food security and health of her family, and for her security of
housing. Picture this person and then try to imagine what economic policy might
have to do with her or him. It is a hard task. Very little trickles that far
down, but be aware that down below consists of around half the country.
If we can
imagine programmes reaching that woman field worker, and her counterpart in the
city, we need to imagine many more such interventions. If we cannot then our
imagination is as starved of ideas as our children are of nourishment and
Haris Gazdar is a founding partner and senior
researcher at the Collective for Social Science Research in Karachi. He works
on social policy and political economy issues.
clash between the Kalash community and their more numerous Muslim neighbours,
caused by a girl’s change of faith, appears to have been amicably resolved.
However, the incident should awaken the government and the people both to their
duty to save the tiny Kalash minority from extinction.
month’s attack on the Kalash again brought out their tradition of tolerance.
Reena, a 14-year-old Kalash girl, was reported to have converted to Islam and
chosen to stay with a Muslim family. Then she went back to her parents’ home
and complained of having been forcibly converted. This enraged the Muslim
neighbours and they attacked Kalash homes. The authorities intervened and the
parties agreed to respect the girl’s wishes. The matter ended when the girl
deposed before a magistrate that she had adopted Islam of her own free will,
and her family accepted her choice.
highlighted the Kalash tradition of treating change of religion as something
normal. Reena’s own uncle and aunt had embraced Islam before her. For some
time, however, the Kalash have been showing signs of anxiety at the rate of
conversions. In January this year, 12 Kalashas were reported to have converted
to Islam within a month. According to a spokesman of the Kalash People’s
Development Network, about 100 Kalashas embraced Islam over the past few years.
must ensure that minorities are not driven to give up their faith by denial of
large community that ruled the Chitral region, the Kalash population has shrunk
to about 3,000 heads. They are also reported to have lost control of a large
part of their lands through sale to Muslims or otherwise. In this situation
their fears of extinction cannot be summarily dismissed.
of conversion is not as simple as it is sometimes made out to be, especially by
some Muslim clerics who run conversion services. One of them once declared that
the Kalash girls were turning to Islam as they had become aware of the
difference between right and wrong. Another view is that educated Kalash girls
change their faith to improve their marital prospects. Such statements cannot
conceal the fact that members of religious minorities are under economic and
social pressure to give up their status as second- or third-class citizens and
join the privileged Muslim community.
one has no quarrel with voluntary conversions, the state must ensure that
minorities are not driven to give up their faith by denial of their rights or
unbearable discrimination in social and economic terms. Such conversions are
perhaps not welcome in Islam either. Besides, the question whether minors
should be considered competent to change their religion needs to be resolved.
there have been reasons to discount the narrative of all conversions to Islam
being free and voluntary. Two years ago, the Supreme Court took suo motu action
on reports of threats to the Kalash to convert to Islam or face death. The
court accepted the explanation of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government that the
threat mentioned in news reports was not new and that an old story had been
“picked up by some sections of media for vested interests [sic]”.
was based on a report from the Malakand commissioner who had gone to a Kalash
village and was able to report that “the representatives of the Kalash minority
expressed complete satisfaction over the response of the administration and
they were satisfied with the security arrangements in the valleys”.
commissioner’s report, as reproduced in the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment
of June 2014, devotes more space to the deployment of security forces near the
Kalash villages and along the border with Afghanistan than to the question of
conversions or the Kalash people’s rights in general. These security
arrangements are important because the danger of incursions by zealots from
across the border cannot be ignored.
In terms of
the 2014 judgment, the Supreme Court maintains “a separate file to be placed
before a three-member bench to ensure that this judgment be given effect to in
letter and spirit and the said bench may also entertain complaints/ petitions
relatable to the violation of fundamental rights of minorities in the country”.
It may not be unfair to expect this Supreme Court bench to ask the Malakand
commissioner to file periodic reports on the condition of the Kalash community.
The friends of the Kalash people may also approach the court if they notice
guaranteeing the Kalash security against violence is a smaller part of the
state’s duty to them. A more important part is the state obligation to ensure
that the Kalash can go on living as freely as they wish to, subject only to the
laws of change dictated by time and improvement in human consciousness.
colourful Kalash community, with its tradition of music, love and freedom for
the youth, is a precious flower in the national bouquet. It is an integral part
of the pluralist society that Pakistan is, and must always remain so, and its
culture must be protected against all possible attacks, for it is a most
valuable part of the Pakistani people’s heritage.
It is said
that efforts to get the Kalash culture included in the UNESCO’s Intangible
Cultural Heritage List that began in 2008 have got lost in Islamabad’s
dustbins. Those responsible for cultural heritage and minorities’ affairs in
the federal ministry and their counterparts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
administration must get together to devise means of protecting the Kalash
heritage and cultural practices under UNESCO’s guidance. At the same time, they
should develop their own plans to document Kalash cultural practices and
organise a cell to monitor any changes in the community’s festivals and
society, sadly enough, has by and large been guilty of ignoring the Kalash.
None of its reports on the status of minorities issued recently touched on the
plight of the Kalash people. This too must change.
Pope visits Pakistan
As he came
down from his aircraft on Karachi airport in 1981, Pope John Paul II kissed the
Pakistani soil. Though he had made the same gesture of love to people wherever
he went, for Pakistanis he brought alive the meaning of the first line of the
national anthem. His kiss was a testimony to this land being sacred.
that he led at the National Stadium in Karachi was shown on state-owned
television that enabled the people at large to witness symbolic Catholic rites
and listen to recitation from the Bible in Urdu alongside the millions of
Christians who had gathered to greet the Pope in the city.
for a visit has now been served to Pope Francis in Rome by the Minister for
Religious Affairs Mohammad Yousaf and Federal Minister Kamran Michael. So,
there is strong hope that Pope Francis might also visit Pakistan though a time
for such a trip has not been determined yet.
government deserves a pat on the back for its thoughtfulness, because Pope
Francis has done remarkable things — from challenging the world conscience on
the most pressing global issues such as poverty, armed conflicts and migration,
to care for the environment and disarmament.
refused the extravagance of the Pontiff’s office before preaching simplicity,
the world listened to him.
his house of financial irregularities and taking action against paedophile
priests spoke volumes of his commitment to moral values.
He has been
helpful in bringing the message of inter- and intra-community peace in
situations such as Palestine and Congo as well as reconciliation between Cuba
and the US. So much so, that analysts have started noticing the ripples of the
‘Francis Effect’ across the globe.
It is worth
pondering over what Pope Francis’s visit to Pakistan will and should entail.
Hosting this prolific guest will require finding a match between Pakistan’s
objectives and the mission that Pope Francis supports. In other words, we need
to find common ground.
view the Pakistani context, we need to prioritise the goals that we would like
to achieve if the Pope visits the country.
the world over think that Pope Francis is following a personal political
agenda. The evidence at hand suggests that he is not. Rather, his uprightness
conflicts with how politics is usually conducted.
Boehner, the former Speaker of US Congress and a Catholic, is to be taken as an
example, the Pope doesn’t seem to be cut out for politics. Boehner’s
spontaneous resignation from his job after the Pope’s speech in Congress, who
spoke on Boehner’s invitation, suggests that the speech was a factor in
Boehner’s decision besides the opposition he faced from within the Republican
Party. Hence an exposure to the Pope’s convictions might be dangerous for
of Pope Francis exemplifies the moral worth of humans, a post-modern thinking
of the 21st century that carries along the sensitivities of third world
countries struggling with underdevelopment, social inequality and political
initiatives he has taken manifest an inspiring position of transcendence beyond
human identities and distinctions. We also find him clearly siding with the
marginalised — anywhere and in all respects.
and violence, even in the verbal form, make him angry as reflected in his
reaction to Donald Trump’s religiously biased statements. Hence his mysticism
should not be mistaken as Malamati Sufism; he is more of a Jalali Sufi.
(retd) Ali Nawaz Chowhan, the chairperson of the National Commission for Human
Rights, is optimistic that mediation or a call on the part of Pope Francis can
facilitate peace and help find resolution to the miseries of the people of
Kashmir. Therefore, he is considering sending a request to the Pope through a
reconciliation between Cuba and America had three more elements besides Pope
Francis’s efforts — a black president in the US, the fading influence of Fidel
Castro in Cuba and the flexible Raul Castro.
Justice (retd) Chowhan’s idea could prove to be worthwhile in creating an
environment of goodwill, India has time and again insisted on a bilateral
approach to resolving the Kashmir problem, hence support for this proposition
from India would be crucial. The local factors and actors will be important to
achieve this end while garnering international support from various quarters,
including from Pope Francis, may not be a difficult feat.
visiting the churches and the Christian community in Pakistan, Pope Francis
would probably be happy to meet with people like Abdul Sattar Edhi (may he
recover from his illness soon), and visit temples or shrines such as those of
Khawaja Farid, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Bullhey Shah and Rehman Baba.
Francis’s interaction with prisoners, the youth, farmers and labourers could
make his potential visit truly memorable as he is evidently keen to be
humanised during his sojourns.