June 28, 2014

WINNING THE TRUMP OF HEARTS: My OPINION in NATION on the Social Dimension of Conflict

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 2:11 pm
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The care and gratitude of IDPs will go a long way in securing Waziristan from militant activities. Like the military operation, this War also has four phases. First, looking after them in a manner they feel they are part of the family and not paupers, providing a new social contract in FATA through administrative and constitutional reforms, rebuilding FATA including homes and communication infrastructure and opportunities for socio-economic development. LEAs will provide the security umbrella. IDPs are just not humans but also include livestock, beast of burden, poultry and pets. Most amongst them have a high standard of living due to availability of smuggled technologies. They are not cave people

The term Internally Displaced Pakistanis (IDPs) is cruel. It implies that the state of Pakistan morphing through successive layers of inventive nationalism has ignored the basis element of a nation state; THE PEOPLE. It also means that throughout these phases, the governments and elites in power were guilty of feeding people as fodder to objectives they had no capacity to achieve. Like a blinded beast of burden that grinds the mill, the state and its elites lived in notions of a grandiose existence (falsification of history) spinning a wheel with yarns that blurred the rainbow. Pakistan the champion of the’ will of the people’ has done the opposite to its own. 67 years of existence and the nation remains nomadic. The scars are visible. The ghettos and slums, shanty housings in the middle of Islamabad, followers of religious, megalomaniac and political cults, an exploitative system, governmental insensitivity and neglect, to name a few. The symbolism of endless lines of tractors, rickety buses, trucks, rickshaws, carts, animals and foot columns of men, women and children, down the road from Sadgai depict the criminal nature of a state that has betrayed people and allowed wolves to dominate. These societal hyenas prowl everywhere personified by the symbolic Gullu Butts.  Militants in Waziristan are one manifestation. As the final battle draws to an imminent military victory, I keep asking myself, will the state lacking civil capacity be able to win the war?

When Napoleon set out to conquer, he executed classic manoeuvres to win many battles. Yet in the final analysis he was trumped by a defeat in Waterloo that cost him the war. So did Hitler. Commenting on the social aspect of warfare, Clausewitz had commented in his Trinity that if all other elements are equal, the numbers finally count. He referred to the synergy built by mass emotions and motivations for a final battle that wins a prolonged war. This lesson of military and social history has been endlessly forgotten and repeated. The factorising of masses in long drawn fourth generation conflicts tipped around terrorism is no exception. In a scenario when a country is vulnerable to multi-dimensional kinetics on all fronts, the entire canvas of the conflict has to be understood to fight.  Rulers it seems have not grasped it.

The state and the people are disjointed with a social disconnect. Investments by the army of major towns and villages, flushing out hideouts and precision strikes would finally result in a spatial victory but what about those hidden and obscured corners of hearts and minds? Who will cater to their miseries, needs and aspirations? What about the absence of good governance, the rising internal and external debts, manipulation of currency markets, and the stolen mandate of the people? Political parties are unwilling to invest their lot with the present government run by a family? Finally, what about the lip service that Punjab and Sindh are paying to this conflict and the doors they close to people scourged by conflict over four decades?

It is unfortunate that the popular fabric of the country is torn and shredded. Pakistan is a country whose people despite backing the armed forces do not trust the government. We can only pray that the state wakes from its dysfunctional slumber to realise that its preoccupation in self-preservation is an anathema to a war it must win. The final battle is beyond the crumbling redoubts of the militants. Spatial military victories are meaningless if the people do not develop a notion of being part of a national construct. This war is to be trumped by an ace of hearts for the people resigned to primordialism, violence and neo-colonialism.

The civil-military disconnect is evident in North Waziristan. Military operations warranted a surprise that was achieved. Timely relief measures were systematically delayed. Federal political and civil administration lacked urgency in filling details of outline plans for temporary relocation of over 700,000 displaced people and assorted animals in the settled areas. Barring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, no one war-gamed the civilian aspect of the crises for relief planning. The federal government made no allocations in annual budget for the war on terrorism and crises created by unprecedented migrations. Allocations for its waivered counter terrorism scripts are meagre. Crores spent on advertisements on IDPS who need no publicity should have been shifted towards relief. Preparedness to combat urban terrorism is invisible. The government rather than synergise opened new fronts.

Being a federal subject, the crisis is a subject entire Pakistan must share. Barring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, provincial governments have yet to take a start.  Malik Riaz, always in forefront of national calamities has single handed eclipsed the announcement of Rs five crores by the Sindh Government. Punjab the big brother is too preoccupied in defending its citadel. Why is there no announcement of national austerity, diversion of funds from projects that can be postponed towards relief and additional allocations to KPK? If the apathy continues and the floods arrive, it will be one very big fiasco.

Amongst the political parties, there remains a lingering suspicion that the government is using the tragedy to hedge its political power. It has widened political divides by mishandling Model Town and Emirates flight. It starves its political rivals in KPK by withholding release of federal funds. Punjabi Taliban is considered an asset. Even within PMLN, there are divides emerging between national and party interests. Does the government realise it needs to win it for Pakistan?

But there are positives. The armed forces have donated one moth rations that should take care of IDPs for two months. Relief organisations like World Food Program, Bahria Town, JUD, IKF Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association and many more are on the vigil. Sadgai and the road to North Waziristan display a much organised relief effort. Migrating people go through at least five medical check points, NADRA registration centres, inoculation/vaccination and polio camps. Lady Doctors of the army attend to pregnant women. Food and cold refreshments are served. The IDPs are briefed. But the people are not ready to bite pride and live in camps.

Enter Bannu and chaos is everywhere. A city of 1.7 million is choked. The property and transport rents have skyrocketed. Aid convoys are lock jammed by an unending stream of traffic from Sadgai. The relief workers are directionless. Disaster management officials are preoccupied with briefs. The cantonment is inaccessible. The ill-timed visit of the Prime Minister has brought everything to a standstill.

But one thing is clear. PMLN will lose its self-created battle if it does not win this one. Wait and see.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email and twitter:


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