Tuesday, September 12, 2013
There is no specific leader among scorpion, everyone is leader just touch the tail of any one. Haji Hakim Khan, a tribal elder said
Drones strikes are a regular feature of security dynamics in FATA. A total of 49 drones strikes were held during the year 2012 and the year 2013 have seen 18 strikes so far with the latest killing of Mullah Sangeen Zadraan. The policy intention(s) of Drone attacks is to eliminate or curb militancy in the Pak-Afghan border areas. Drone attacks most usually target high profile militants to disrupt the hierarchy and to disband the militants groups. However, this policy of targeting leadership to disrupt the group is workable in circumstances where the cause and purpose of militancy is not communicated down to the rest of the members of the group or foot soldiers. But here in the case of Talibanization in Pakistan and Afghanistan the cause is, to a great extent, communicated down at every level from field commanders to foot soldiers, therefore eliminating leadership would not be the parallel to the elimination of militancy. The leaders are easily replaceable.
Recently, US Drone attack killed Mullah Sangeen on 6th of September, who was extremely important commander of Taliban in North Waziristan and Paktika province of Afghanistan. He was considered to be the most respectable and reputable mediator among Taliban of both sides of the Pak-Afghan border. He remained very famous for his successful attacks on US/NATO forces in Afghanistan. Two hundred thousand US dollars reward was announced by US government for the head of Mullah Sangeen FRC. His death is considered as a great loss for Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Keeping in view the activities and operational expertise of Mullah Sangeen it is considered that he is irreplaceable. But the fact is that no one among the Taliban leadership is irreplaceable. On 2nd January 2013 the most influential Taliban commander Wana chapter Mullah Nazir was killed by the US drone with nine other militants in Sara Kanda area of tehsil Birmal, South Waziristan Agency Dawn. Soon after the killing of Mullah Nazir the analysts across the globe declared his death as a great loss for Taliban’s movement on operational and leadership level in Wana. But his replacement, Salahudin Ayyubi, managed Taliban’s operationalization effectively The Long War Journal. It has been noticed during the recent General Elections in Wana which was believed to be influenced greatly by the Taliban headed by Ayyubi which indicated that Nazir’s death mattered very little in this respect.
It is not the only example in this context rather there are few other examples which tell us that leadership matters a small when we talk about Talibanization in Pakistan. Therefore the recent case of Mullah Sangeen’s death will not affect Talibanization in North Waziristan.
There is another aspect of the above discussion/debate whereby leaders matters a lot in certain stages or certain situations. For instance, if government or natives approach Taliban for peace pacts and negotiations, then this stage is considered as the transition period for Talibanization. It has also been noticed that different leaders among Taliban have different tendencies. Some of them are not approachable for negotiation while some have tendency for negotiation. So in time of negotiation/peace process death of pro-peace talks Taliban commanders may affect the process.
We have certain examples in this regard in which the death of Mullah Nek Muhammad is very famous and relevant. Most of the analysts agreed that his death was parallel to the cold peace which was established in Shakai Agreement between Pakistani Army and Wana Taliban under the leadership of Nek Muhammad. The truce was disrupted by targeting Nek Muhammad which later on followed by military operation in the area.
Wali Ur Rahman’s death was also at a transition period when military and civilian government was very near to launch peace talks with the Taliban but his death resulted in uprooted the chances of negotiation with Taliban.
Most of the time drone attacks disturbed peace building/ conflict management prospects in FATA, particularly in South and North Waziristan, though no serious measures have been taken yet for conflict management or specifically peace talks. This may be the basic reason of people’s confusion regarding drone attacks (local people are confused on the issue of drone strikes, that whether drone attacks are useful or useless Mehran Ali Khan Wazir.
There is another aspect of militancy and counter-militancy which is inevitable to be discussed here i.e military operation in FATA. According to Haji Hakim Khan, a respectable tribal elder, all counter militancy moves are drama. “There is no sincerity in any of the anti Taliban strategies, they are just dramas.” He expressed that every strategy adapted till now for the purpose of eliminating militancy, is counterproductive. “Look at the military operations; they just compel the tribal people to leave their houses and live in IDPs camp and other settle districts in miserable conditions, not more than that”, Hakim Khan said. He also criticized drone attacks as counterproductive where a huge number of tribal population is suffering from mental diseases in FATA.
The above discussion brought us to the conclusion that drone attacks are not that much useful tool of counter-militancy. Because the leaderships, targeted by US drone have been replaced with more effective and influential leadership.
The option of targeted (specialized) military operations is still valid along with the peace process. The ongoing counter-militancy strategy involved locals directly in war against Taliban which increased the civilian atrocities Mehran Ali Khan Wazir. The natives should be invited in the peace process with due respect, because the locals can understand the tone of local Taliban in the area.
The writer is a research fellow at Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Politics and International Relation at International Islamic University Islamabad and works as a Senior Research Analyst at FATA Research Center.
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