LAHORE - It was the first time ever that Pakistan’s real point of view on the fallout of the war on terror and incessant drone attacks in tribal areas has been expounded so faithfully and strongly. And this was also the first time that Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan behaved like the interior minister of a sovereign Pakistan. Full marks to him.
May Allah give courage to all leaders of the Islamic Republic to represent the 200 million people the way the elected representatives should represent in the light of the oaths of their respective offices.
So far, Pakistan has always been regarded as the most “allied ally” of the United States, but it has hardly ever received the treatment expected in such a relationship. The US has always used Pakistan in various situations to advance its agenda, but then conveniently walked away, without bothering to consider for a moment the consequences its so-called ally would have to face.
The US drone attack that killed TTP leader on Friday has forced Pakistan to come up with a strong reaction. The interior minister rightly said that it was not an attack on an individual – Hakimullah Mehsud – but an assault on the peace process, which was to start with talks between the government and the TTP leadership slated for Saturday (yesterday). Nobody knows how long the authorities concerned would now take to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in the changed situation.
Also, no one is in a position to predict the future of the Pak-US relations, as the government will review the ties in the light of the latest “provocation”. Strained relations may affect the US plans to pull out its troops from Afghanistan by the end of the next year.
At the press conference the interior minister could not suppress his anger. In fact, he let some secrets out which people would have never known if the peace process had not been torpedoed by the latest US drone attack.
For example, he said, the US was determined to eliminate the TTP chief at sight and had told him accordingly. However, the minister said he opposed the plan and told the US authorities that in case the plan was carried out, Pakistan would be left with no one to talk to as Hakimullah was head of the organisation.
It also came to light that Pakistan is already observing ceasefire in the fight against Taliban. The Taliban have been demanding that fighting should be stopped before talks, but the government never said it has accepted the demand, without publicly announcing it.
In support of the government’s claim that the military leadership is also on board in talks with the Taliban, the minister disclosed that Army Chief Gen Kayani had told him recently that even the routine military movement has been stopped to avoid any misunderstanding among Taliban. This means that the army was so careful in its routine functions that it did not want to do anything which could provide the Taliban with an opportunity to suspect that an army operation was being launched against them.
Chaudhry Nisat also got a justification to point out what he called “double standards” of the US.
He pointed out that in the joint statement issued after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent meeting with President Obama it had been clearly stated that the US would support the peace process. “Is this the (promised) support to the peace process?”
Many political leaders never believed that Mr Sharif’s US visit was a success. However, the government functionaries had a different point of view. But what the interior minister said at his news conference proved that the government’s earlier claims were not well founded.
It is also the first time that Pakistan “screamed” because of the situation it has been facing after the 9/11 attacks.
No Pakistani, the minister said, was involved in the 9/11 attacks on Twin Towers that led to unleashing of a new war on terror. But, he said, the countries because of whom the war on terror was started are living in peace while Pakistan was being targeted. “For what mistake of ours are we being attacked?”
Pakistan fears that the TTP may hold it responsible for attack on Hakimullah and retaliate with attacks in various parts of the country. To obviate such a possibility, the interior minister was quick in sending a message to the TTP that Pakistan had played no role in the attack. “The attack has been caused by the US. Let its policy (against peace) not succeed. This is a very serious incident. But the innocent people of Pakistan should not be targeted in retaliatory attacks. This is not Islam”.
Let’s hope the Taliban don’t hold Pakistan responsible for the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud and they continue the peace process as planned. If this happens, it would be a great success for Pakistan.
Whatever the future situation, the drone attack has united all political parties against drone attacks.
They have supported what the interior minister has said. And in case the NATO supplies are blocked, which should not a difficult decision for the government to take in light of the visible unity, the US would have to give Pakistan due importance. Otherwise, it would not be very easy for the US to pull out its troops from Afghanistan.