Foreign Policy Blogs

Defeat Taliban First

It is nauseating to see people being slaughtered in Pakistan these days. Human life has no respect for barbaric animals responsible for these bombings and suicide attacks. And if the news of bombings and killing was not enough, I was horrified to learn that Lahore’s commissioner (incorrectly) blames India for these attacks while Punjab’s law minister (correctly) believes that the thugs being smoked out from Swat and Wazirstan are actually behind these attacks to force the government to back down. Isn’t it time for Pakistan to get united? Isn’t it time stop obsessing about India? Isn’t it time to be realistic?

If any other country had been under attack the way Pakistan has been targeted by the Taliban, you’d see the entire nation fighting back, collectively. However, in Pakistan, out of control judiciary, rogue media (read Urdu columnists and anchors on private television channels) and out of power politicians are more concerned with NRO than defeating the Taliban. No political party, except MQM and PPP has taken a clear and bold stand against the Taliban. Isn’t time to forget the NRO, at least for now, and focus on defeating the Taliban and Al-Qaeda who are out to annihilate Pakistan as we know it? Doesn’t common sense dictate that Pakistan’s first and top most priority must be to secure the homeland? Isn’t it critical to save Pakistan from becoming another Afghanistan? what good is the issue of NRO if Taliban or people who idolize Taliban are able to totally destroy Pakistan?

Ignoring Islamabad’s incompetence for now, it seems odd, even strange that the more Islamabad tries to do the right thing, i.e. the Baluchistan package, taking on the Taliban, taking a hard line with Washington vis-à-vis civilian aid, the more louder the opposition gets in these efforts to derail everything Zardari-Gillani try to achieve. Worse yet, while the enemy is working hard to destroy Pakistan as a peaceful country, some in Pakistan are scoring political points even at a time when the country is literally exploding from within. For example, Axis of Evil; arrogant media, politically motivated judiciary and right wing hard core fundamentalists led by Nawaz Sharif are trying to bring down the government. Specifically, all efforts are targeted towards maligning Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s democratically elected president. Otherwise, I don’t see any reason for this type of extremely charged rhetoric in Pakistan where the Chief Justice is almost openly signaling that he would target Zardari, Nawaz League is also encouraging negativity towards Zardari and the media too is obsessing about Zardari, while the country is engaged in life and death struggle. Pakistanis must learn to compartmentalize and prioritize if the country is interested in staying intact.

Don’t get me wrong. I want accountability and I want it across the board, but what is going on inside Pakistan is worrisome. Hysterical yelling, finger pointing, name calling, and other efforts rooted in bigotry never yielded anything before, nor will we see anything this time as for as accountability goes, as it is playing out in Pakistan these days.  Unfortunately, what gets lost in this lousy circus of NRO is the fact that enemy (and I don’t mean India or America or Jews whenever I use the term enemy – I always mean right wingers and the Taliban) are getting stronger instead of getting weaker and their efforts are much more synchronized and targeted instead of sporadic attacks here and there. More worrisome is the fact the funding for these nut jobs has not dried up. And no, India is not funding these people. The money for these humanity hating animals is always coming from the Gulf States. It has always come from there; nobody paid any attention to it before, plain and simple.

Isn’t it time to pay attention to stop the free flow of money to the Taliban instead of beating the dead drum of NRO?

Whether Zardari remains in power or not, it won’t matter if the enemy is able to land a blow. Therefore, common sense dictates that the nation puts else everything on the backburner and tackles the issue of dealing with terrorism that is plaguing everything in Pakistan. In historical context, Zardari, Gillani and even Nawaz Sharif will come and go, but what is constant is Pakistan and that is what the focus should have been ever since the Taliban declared war on Pakistan. NRO is the last thing that should be debated at this critical time in Pakistan’s history.

Regretfully, it is difficult to say with certainty whether Pakistan can come out of the big hole that the country has dug for itself or not. The pragmatist in me, who also loves Pakistan say yes, Pakistan will survive all this. However, looking at the data (political, social and economical indicators), the realist in me comes to a different and a horrifying conclusion.

Is there a future for Pakistan if the Taliban succeeding in overthrowing the government?

When Newsweek declared Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world in an article in 2007, all of us responded angrily. It was pointed out at the time that the wars are going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those countries should have been labeled dangerous, unstable or whatever. However, given Pakistan’s colossal struggles, it has become clear that Newsweek had it right all along. Pakistan is perhaps the most dangerous country in the world. And, it gives me no pleasure to predict that unless the media, the politicians and the judiciary wakes up to what is ‘really’ threatening Pakistan, there is no chance that Pakistan will be able to reverse the tide of destruction.

Is anyone listening in Pakistan?



Bilal Qureshi

Bilal Qureshi is a resident of Washington, DC, so it is only natural that he is tremendously interested in politics. He is also fascinated by the relationship between Pakistan, the country of his birth, and the United States of America, his adopted homeland. Therefore, he makes every effort to read major newspapers in Pakistan and what is being said about Washington, while staying fully alert to the analysis and the news being reported in the American press about Pakistan. After finishing graduate school, he started using his free time to write to various papers in Pakistan in an effort to clarify whatever misconceptions he noticed in the press, especially about the United States. This pastime became a passion after his letters were published in Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and his writing became more frequent and longer. Now, he is here, writing a blog about Pakistan managed by Foreign Policy Association.

Areas of Focus:
Taliban; US-Pakistan Relations; Culture and Society