Enemy No 1 turned into a ‘Martyr’

Hakimullah Mehsud, the dreaded former chief of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan on Nov 01, 2013. With his death, another bloody chapter in the history of TTP came to an end, though it would be naïve to believe that it is the end of TTP. Mehsud, who became the head of TTP in 2009, after its former chief, Baitullah Mehsud was also eliminated in a drone strike. Hakimullah Mehsud was very clear in his ideology and what he and the TTP stood for. He had ideological motivations and objectives and had no dichotomy in his ideology and principles, unlike the Pakistani political establishment. TTP sees Pakistani State as its enemy and they state it clearly.

But his death by a drone brought out the contradiction that the Pakistani political establishment suffers from, clearly out in the open. One was surprised to see many Pakistani analysts, TV anchors and politicians calling it a ‘sabotage’ of the ‘peace process’ with the TTP. The Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar called it as the death of the ‘peace process’. Jamat-e-Islami Chief, Munnawar Hussain conferred the ‘award’ of martyr on him. Imran Khan, who has this habit of seeing only one side of the coin, especially when it comes to the complex issue of terrorism and extremism in Pakistan, played his old rhetoric of stopping NATO supplies.

For him the issue of terrorism in Pakistan has only one reason: drones. If one were to accept his thinking, terrorism in Pakistan would stop the day the US stopped its drone operation. He and many other Pakistani politicians, analysts and TV anchors don’t want to see the complexities of terrorism and sectarianism in Pakistan, which can be traced back to late 70s and early 80s when Pakistan encouraged religious extremism and became the allowed itself to become the frontline State in the war against the erstwhile USSR. The war had ended by late 80s, but its toxic effects are still being felt by Pakistan.

Despite TTP and other terrorist and sectarian organizations bringing the State of Pakistan to the brink, many politicians in Pakistan refuse to see the writing on the wall. That TTP is at war with Pakistan and is an enemy of the Pakistani State shouldn’t be difficult for anyone to understand. But then Pakistani politicians have some different benchmarks of deciding who their friends or foes are. That TTP can kill thousands of civilians and Pakistan Army personnel in pursuit of their murderous ideology is not evidence enough for these politicians to understand their reality. Every time the TTP takes responsibility for killing civilians or army personnel, their apologists in the Pakistani media and political establishment manufacture new excuses ranging from fulminations against drones to labelling TTP as a creation of  CIA and Mossad. 

So from being a person who should have been enemy no 1 of the Pakistani State, Hakimullah Mehsud became a ‘martyr’. It is difficult to imagine that political establishment and media in any other country would elevate their biggest enemy to the status of a ‘martyr’ in his death. That drones are illegal and breach the sovereignty of the Pakistani State is a valid point, but Hakimullah Mehsud’s death should not be the reason to make that point. It will only make Pakistan’s position more untenable. The argument against the use of drones should be made independently.

Rather than shedding tears about the death of Hakimullah Mehsud and elevating him to the level of a ‘martyr’, Pakistani politicians had better spare some thought for the thousands of innocent killed at the hands of TTP and like minded organisations. Saying a prayer and words of consolation for them would send the right signals that the Pakistani State and its overall political establishment is serious enough to tackle the menace of terrorism which is ripping it apart.

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