Can we win? Dr Farrukh Saleem

Pakistan is fighting two ferocious wildfires that have taken each and every square inch of Pakistan into their fatal grips. The flame has already consumed 11,129 innocent Pakistani lives and has completely wrecked the economy. The battle, in essence, is on two fronts — the economic front and the militant front.

To be certain, we have already accepted that we cannot on our own fight on the economic front. The way things are going the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) will not have any dollars left to buy oil for the month of November (we are heading into oil quotas). The way things are going the SBP will not have any dollars left to repay a principal repayment of $500 million falling due in February 2009 (that would mean a sovereign default). We have already admitted that we cannot win on the economic front — cannot win without help.

Now, on to the militant front. In the first nine months of 2008, there have already been 683 bomb blasts and casualties from terrorist violence already stand at 4,141 (in the 1965 War, Pakistani casualties stood at 4,000). In January, a military base camp at Kabal in Swat, a blast outside the Lahore High Court and an Imambargah in Peshawar were attacked. In February, Pakistan army’s surgeon general was killed, Pakistan navy War College came under attack in Lahore, FIA Headquarters in Lahore was attacked and an Army Medical College bus was blasted near GHQ Rawalpindi. In March, the entire hierarchy of a tribal peace jirga in Darra Adamkhel was killed and a Brigade Headquarters in South Waziristan was attacked. In May, a madressah in Khyber agency was bombed. In June, the Danish embassy in Islamabad was bombed. In August, policemen standing guard on the eve of the Independence Day were killed, District Headquarter Hospital in D I Khan was bombed, the Pakistan Ordnance Factory was bombed and the Charbagh Police Station came under attack. In September, there were 17 bomb blasts occurring on the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st and four bomb blasts on the 22nd.

We are in a state of denial. Imagine; the Pakistan army is in a state of war, the police are running scared, military base camps are under attack, Brigade Headquarters are under siege, FIA is under attack, courts are being bombed, tribal jirgas are being killed, madressahs and Imambargahs are under attack, schools are shutting down, embassies are closing down, UN families have been pulled out, diplomats are running away — and we are in a state of denial. In NWFP, at least 20 of the 24 districts are under militant control. At least 10,000 square kilometres of Pakistan’s physical terrain between the Tochi River to the north and the Gomal River to the south have been lost to the de facto ‘Islamic Emirate of Waziristan’.

Things are deteriorating not improving. We are losing not winning. In 2003, causalities of terrorist violence numbered 189. In 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, casualties of terrorist violence stood at 863, 648, 1,471, 3,599 and 4,141 (till September 22), respectively. In 2003, Pakistan had a total of 41 bomb blasts. In 2006, there were 289 bomb blasts and in 2007 a total of 462 bomb blasts. So far this year, we have already had 683 bomb blasts.

When would we realize that sovereignty is no longer the issue? When would we realize that at stake is our very existence as human beings? When would we realize that our state machinery is not in control? When would we realize that we cannot win this war without outside help?

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist. Email:

Source: The News, 5/10/2008


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