Talat Hussain show on Rawalpindi mosque attack

I was watching Talat Hussain’s show from Dec 4 and I found this brief clip interesting:

The interesting part was that all four individuals on the show acknowledged that the militant groups responsible for the attack are homegrown and long-established. But Gen. Amjad Shoaib (the first speaker) and Brig. Samson Simon Sharaf focus on the idea that these homegrown and long-established groups have been infiltrated by foreign agencies. Gen. Shoaib talks about the expansion of the CIA budget and how this indicates the “real war is being fought between intelligence agencies” using these terrorist groups as proxies. By contrast AVM Shahzad Chaudhry tries to talk a bit about the difference between extremism and terrorism and makes the point that extremism has become a fact of life in Pakistani culture and results in terrorism in our cities. So the fight against terrorism will take much longer (on the scale of 10+ years) than the current insurgency in FATA which may be defeated in a few weeks. Talat Hussain is quite dismissive of this – he says “this is long term” and then immediately goes on to his pet hobbyhorse, the claim that Pakistan and the people of Pakistan are all in a state of war but questions whether the government is in a state of war or even realizes there is a war going on.

After the break there is a clip of Rehman Malik saying that TTP has taken responsibility for most attacks in NWFP and so have Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba. According to Talat, it’s not that we have to discover the groups which are carrying out the attacks since we already know the groups that are carrying out. This is where Brig. Samson Sharaf enters with a theory that is quite fascinating. His idea is that we have to trace these groups “in reverse order” and we will arrive at the “root” of the problem. It’s really interesting because it’s not like he has any trouble openly acknowledging that the terrorist groups like Sipah-e-Sahaba were “prepared” by Pakistan to counter the Iranian threat and that they attacked Shias in Imambargahs and carried out various attacks mainly in cities. But this is where it gets really weird. He claims that it is only in the Pashtun areas where there is a “resistance to foreign powers” (I take that to mean that it’s only in the Pashtun areas where he feels the insurgency has any kind of legitimacy) In the rest of the country, however, we have these banned groups (originally “prepared” to counter the Iranian threat) that have now been somehow flipped against the Pakistani state via “international linkages”. He gives the example of the Indian Airlines plane hijacking in 1999 after which several militants including Maulana Masood Azhar and Omar Saeed Sheikh was released. According to him he made a lot of noise at the time of their release because he was concerned that people like Omar Saeed Sheikh (who was at one point an Mi6 agent) would potentially have been turned during their time in India and would double cross Pakistan. (By the way I remember that Gen. Musharraf has also described his suspicions regarding Omar Saeed Shaikh being a CIA agent in his book _In the Line of Fire_. )

The fascinating thing is that at the time of their release I am sure that it would have been very difficult to imagine that Maulana Masood Azhar and Omar Saeed Shaikh were working against the Pakistani interests. I am sure Brig. Sharaf would have described Masood Azhar’s Jaish-e-Muhammad as having also been “prepared” for the purposes of countering the Indian threat. It was only when the individuals turned on the state that analysts like Sharaf and Shoaib and Talat Hussain immediately went from the idea of them being “prepared” assets (which they are quite comfortable with) to being double agents with nefarious international agendas.

I just don’t know what to make of this. First of all, all of them are completely comfortable ignoring the ideological basis of the terrorism against Pakistan. They are not interested in discussing the fact that the groups have any ideological grievances with the Pakistani state’s involvement in the war on terror. They basically talk about the terrorists like they are robots – “prepared” for a particular job and which have now been reprogrammed. Talat Hussain dismisses Shahzad Chaudhry’s talk about having to deal with extremism in society as too “long term” for his immediate interest since we are at war. Basically, none of the three seem to consider extremism in society as a threat at all except for the fact that their “assets” have somehow fallen into the wrong hands. Since they see the entire situation as a complex chess game between various international agencies there is no time to even consider why these groups are attacking Pakistan. This makes one understand that some of the source of Talat Hussain’s frustration with the current government regarding its non-seriousness in acknowledging that “we are at war” is not simply related to its inefficiency in handling the domestic security situation but it’s inadequate acknowledgement of the “reality” of the war (i.e. that it’s a proxy war being fought with the CIA, RAW and Afghan Intelligence).

10 responses to “Talat Hussain show on Rawalpindi mosque attack

  1. Rabia,
    While the talk between the personnel you mentioned is highly delusional and reeks of excusing their ways off by again spewing the never-ending conspiracy theories, it can’t be entirely ruled out that there is the possibility of foreign elements within the Taliban insurgents. I am not proposing another conspiracy theory neither such doubts be dismissed as mere conspiracy theories but to consider them ONLY as a ‘possibility’ as long as we don’t get a proof, which our Mr. Malik claims to have some, not that I believe him.
    To take things clearly, it’s our own homegrown jihadis and it’s obvious that the generals of that era, who were taught Islam and militancy side by side as the only ‘right’ course and had their lives expended in a proxy war which resulted in the Taliban Frankenstein, find it hard that these very home-bred fellas have shifted canons from ‘those kafirs’ to ‘not-good-enough Muslims.’
    However, Talat’s attitude is the typical trademark attitude of our well-famous TV anchors – not only they have a lopsided, biased and moronic view of things, they love using it to gather a viewership which they know is more interested in listening to this shit.

  2. admin

    Salman,
    I don’t think it’s that unlikely either… in fact it’s likely enough for them to sound convincing, imo. Which is probably what makes it difficult for Shahzad Chaudhry’s viewpoint to gain more followers.

  3. I read with interest, comments on what I said in the show. The points I highlighted are as follows:
    1. There was a security lapse that needs to be investigated.
    2. The operations in FATA are counterinsurgency and what we confront in cities is Urban Terrorism. The style of Urban Terrorism in NWFP is different from the style in Punjab. In NWFP, it is based on suicide bombings and remote demolitions. In Punjab it is attacks with firearms followed by explosions.
    3. Some groups have foreign linkages. Yes they do have. In Bosnia, Chechnya etc, they operated under foreign tutelage.

  4. iz

    So basically the CIA is putting soldiers in afghanistan and supporting the karzai govt but the CIA is also supporting the Taliban in fighting against the CIA-backed afghan govt and then the CIA is supporting Pakistan to fight the CIA-backed Taliban and supporting the ISI (to the tune of over half its budget we hear) and to make things more interesting the CIA is supporting the TTP to fight the CIA-backed ISI. Very interesting. The CIA is actually running everything, and everyone, and then having them all fight each other, a little like a god-child playing with his toy soldiers…

    Interesting.

  5. admin

    Brig. Sharaf, thanks for elaborating on your views. The main follow up question I have for you is why you tend to prefer the foreign linkages explanation to the explanation that the TTP leadership has itself given for why it is turning against Pakistan. For example, here is why Hakimullah Mehsud says he is fighting against Pakistan:

    http://occident.blogspot.com/2009/11/transcript-message-from-hakimullah-wali.html
    “In the war against Pakistani army, we have two aims for it. First is to end its support of America; to abdicate the contracts with America. Second is to bring a Shari’ah system inside Pakistan. These are our objectives. We are not the enemies of Pakistan and Pakistani nation. Instead we are enemies of this current kufr, democratic system that has been subdued on us. This system is unjust and despotic. This unethical and tyrannical setup is a kufr [“unbeliever,” non-Muslim] system irrelevant to Shari’ah. It is the same system, under whose shadow, Dr. Afia Siddique was sold to America in exchange for dollars. It is the same system whose disbeliever is held in contempt regardless of him being a respectable Pakistani citizen.”

    Similarly, in the pro-TTP magazine Nawa-i-Afghan Jihad* you can read several articles criticizing the “Pakistan first” viewpoint of Pakistani nationalists who – according to them – have abandoned Islamic ideology for the sake of Pakistan.

    Even if you do believe that Pakistan and Islam have no differences (as General Kayani has stated), clearly this is not the view of the TTP leadership. Now there are two options, one is to simply ignore what the TTP leadership is saying and attribute mercenary motivations to them which is what the majority of the Pakistani leadership and intellectual class seems to be doing and the other is to seriously consider it and counter it which, I worry, not enough people are doing.

    Thanks for sharing your views and responding to my post, it’s much appreciated.

    * I will put up a link to the article in question later today or tomorrow.

  6. admin

    IZ: you know, if you look at it from the completely opposite point of view, you can also come to the same conclusion (that the US is fighting militants at least partially funded by itself). I suppose the major point of departure between the two views is that one holds that this a deliberate policy and the other blames confusion and incompetence on the part of the US.

  7. If you visit my blogs you will find consistency in my analysis that says it all. Some of the writings are as old as 12 years pieced and reformatted for readers.
    There is a very big constituency of educated people in Pakistan that would also give the Taliban type logic over WOT. Just see Gen (r) Shahid Aziz on yesterday’s Focus on DAWN. He was just too full, though never close to that when he was DGMO, CGS and Corps Commander. But does he go around killing people?
    We have to understand that what these extremists say is not always what they believe in. This is their propaganda facade.
    As for the Two Nation Theory, who has not exploited it. Congress changed it from Lahore Resolution to Pakistan Resolution and so was the concept on Nationhood changed from the inclusive to exclusive. Read my article in Nation. It is this conflicting and contrasting nationalism that I have tried to intrigue.

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Opinions/Columns/03-Dec-2009/Has-Pakistan-arrived/

    If you wish check out my blogs.

    http://sharafs.wordpress.com,
    http://insight-and-foresight.blogspot.com/

  8. admin

    thanks… yes I noticed the change in Gen. Shahid Aziz as well. It’s quite amazing. Thanks for the link to your writings.

  9. Shahzad Chaudhry

    It is only now that I noticed an interesting debate on Talat’s programme. The difficulty with talk-shows is the inability or lack of patience in the anchors to permit a full blown argument; as such one ends up being cryptic and only referring with end-state conclusions or some linked referrals.

    I ended up explaining the Terrorism Vs Extremism concept in two of my subsequent articles carried in the Daily Times on the 7th and the 14th Dec issues. anyone interested in the background of my remarks could easily see the logic of why I insist on emphasising that separation. I feel as the Pakistani society moves on from the scourge of a counter-insurgency effort there will be a need to deal with its two other equally damaging relations, terrorism and extremism. Both these in the order that I mention and more reflective of the time that it will take to deal with both respectively.

    It is not obfuscation; it is to me realism. What exists is the truth; what is behind us is history. Yes, one may revel in history to only highlight incongruence of one or the other institution or personalities; beyond that it only muddies the water. We need to move on. It is the future that we should not let be exploited against our interest as people.

    Would Talat have given me time to say all this in one go?

  10. admin

    yeah I agree it was a pity you weren’t able to complete what you were saying.

    I read your DT article on extremism vs. terrorism and I agree very much with the argument made. I wish there was more room for that kind of discussion on the tv shows.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\12\14\story_14-12-2009_pg3_2

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