Brigadier (r) Samson Simon Sharaf
A recent survey carried out jointly by New America Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow (NAF-TFT) with the local assistance of Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) a Pakistani NGO operating in FATA is testable. Conducted in seven tribal agencies of Pakistan, it managed to collect 498/1000 (49.8%) samples from the worst hit agencies like Orakzai, Khurram, North and South Waziristan. This particular survey in Waziristan excluded the NAF-TFT for security reasons but yet resulted in consistent conclusions.
The survey could have resulted in better insights had some questions peculiar to political sociology of Pakistan been included. Yet responses to different questions if collated scientifically point towards accurate conclusions of the ground realities. Once combined with the second part ie the Leadership Sample, the findings and inferences will be further synthesized and revealing. US research organizations adept at producing biased analysis from a stand-off need to analyse this important document in detail to mellow their anti Pakistan rhetoric.
In many ways the survey reinforces the common perceptions and analysis vocally spelled out by the Pakistani media and excluded political groups. Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf has been the most vocal critic of the manner in which WIT has been conducted and is closest to the hearts of the people in FATA. The survey accurately brings out the aspirations of a representative sample living in a violence ridden environment yet conforming to the awareness of Pakistani print media, common people and civil society. In many ways, it reinforces the national construct and belief in Pakistani nationalism. It is also an important document for the Government of Pakistan to redirect its policy on foreign affairs and WOT consistent with the aspirations of the people amply reflected in this document.
US OPERATIONS AGAINST AL- QAEDA-TALIBAN
The outstanding conclusion of the survey is the opposition to US Military Operations pursuing Al- Qaeda and Taliban inside Pakistan (90%). The individuals who gave this opinion belong to a well knit tribal society where information travels like wildfire and show awareness of hostile intelligence agencies operating in the area. This is local knowledge consistent with what the majority of Pakistanis feel.
Given a choice, about 70% feel that this job should be left to Pakistan Army while over 90% are favourable to the role of Army and FC in their areas. This finding links to other points of the survey in which over 60% blame USA-India-Israel for the problems in FATA. Similarly 59% also see the same nexus as the biggest threat to Pakistan. In US strategic parlance, this means the ‘Long War’ in which US Policy makers wish to include India as a major partner. These opinions based on local firsthand knowledge later transcend to very strong emotional perceptions. 59% of the same people who otherwise hate the militants in the area opine that suicide bombings against USA are justified. Spread to a larger canvas, the majority of Pakistanis disapprove US War on Terror, feel convinced that the present US Nexus is involved in covert operations in Pakistan and therefore killing them is justifiable. This hate for US policy should cause concern and raise eyebrows in the State Department, because in a LONG WAR as they perceive it, this sentiment will grow exponentially.
This is what I have been terming as a War of Hate in many articles, and that based on the Social Dimension of Strategy, USA will lose it in the end. Just like Cambodia and Lagos, this creeping adventurism into Pakistan and forcing Pakistan to become the epicenter of terrorism by design may help USA in its narrow objectives but will create a reaction that the world will not be able to contend with. The same conclusion was forcefully put across by Rachel Maddow in her MSNBC show calling it ‘a New Frontier and a New War, this time Pakistan’. This also explains why young western educated men choose to act as foot soldiers against USA.
With over 122 drone attacks since the Obama surges began, not 10% of Al Qaeda leadership has been neutralized. Yet this remote controlled technology is stubbornly deemed the best option for killing OBL who many believe is already history. As Bill Van Auken puts it,
‘Following the strategy dictated by his generals, Obama, just like his predecessor in the White House, is attempting to exploit US military superiority to offset American capitalism’s long-term economic decline. This course is producing regional and global instability that threatens to drag the people of Pakistan and the entire world into a far bloodier conflagration’.
The recent escalation in such attacks followed by physical violations of Pakistan’s international boundary have served to ferment angry reactions in Pakistan evidenced in a spate of attacks on NATO convoys. As more people shift from the fringe to radicalism, the only safe way for these convoys would be heavy military escorts provided by Pakistan; the undeclared enemy, or through the waste lands of Central Asia. US analysts and policy makers need to answer why they are doing this and what is their back up and exit plan if this already failing policy ultimately fails?
The second most important finding of the survey is the Pacification Operations; Win the hearts and minds. In any multi dimensional conflict, there always are containing fronts and in a Transylvanian such as this, there ought to be many pacification fronts. US policy makers strive to poke every conceivable fault line to stir instability and prove what Ahmad Rashid calls, ‘Pakistan’s descent into Chaos’.
This conclusion is a tribute to the concept of collective wisdom of a healthy society; The people who have sustained violence for over three decades, lived in least developed areas with minimum developmental and educational infrastructure and lost many kit and kin to war. Though in awe of US policy maker they do not hate the people of USA, over 75% feel that USA could win hearts and minds by transiting to pacification operations centered on socio-economic development. These people like most Pakistanis are prepared to forgive and forget if USA leaves Pakistan to Pakistanis and engages its people through developmental economics.
FEDERATION OF PAKISTAN & A NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT
Most important and motivating is the strong belief of these besieged citizens in the Federation of Pakistan. Majority are dismissive of Talibanisation. Over 90% appreciate the presence of the Military and Frontier Corps in the region for law, order and development. This indicates the mistrust of the people in the present bureaucratic and political set up. It is also an indicator that these suffering masses just like other Pakistanis yearn for a new social contract. The single largest majority of 26.50 % wish to see Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf in power trailed by 10.10% for Pakistan Muslim League (N). PPP and ANP seem to have fallen from grace while MQM appears to be more popular than Taliban and Al Qaeda. Religious parties retain their influence of over 13%.
Like most analysts and thinkers in Pakistan, these people are progressive, dreamers and yearn for a new social contract. These are all winds of change that Pakistan needs.