Dear Mr. Khan
They say you never forget your first, I sincerely hope in your case it proves to be otherwise. Unlike most of your faithful legions who seemed aghast at your almost coercive insistence that dialogue with the TTP should be our first priority, I agreed with your stance whole heartedly and believe that it stemmed from your genuine concern for the people of Waziristan and FATA. But surely even you, with all your stubbornness would never have considered dialogues the ONLY priority, Right? It was always a long shot. There was too much bad blood and too many variables to account for, and now through a combination of impeccably timed drone attacks, some very explosive fertilizer and good old fashioned political foot-dragging, the game is up. Just in case I am not being clear, the fat lady has sung, gone home and died in a suicide blast.
The events of the last 72 hours have changed things drastically. Dante is in hell and the only way to go back is to go forward. We always knew the TTP were cold blooded killers, but as it turns out they are almost institutionally stupid. Your brand of appeasement and the looming US withdrawal from Afghanistan would have appealed to Hakeemullah Mehsud’s expansionist ambitions. Call the man whatever you want, but at least he had a diabolical plan in mind that required him not to be perpetually on the run from tactical bombing. Fazlullah, on the other hand is the TTP’s equivalent of George W. Bush, only twice as eloquent and half as charming and unfortunately we top his axis of evil List. So the plan’s pretty much in the dump.
I must admit that I was expecting one of your famous Press conferences any minute now announcing a drastic policy statement. But all we got was Shireen Mazari, feebly towing the party line.
Surely someone around you must have realized. Someone must have given you an awkward smile or plucked up the courage to whisper under their breath “Khan Saab, we are screwed”. Because whether you accept it or not Mr. Khan the operation will happen. The question is, What are YOU going to do about it?
As luck would have it, you sit now at the edge of what is about to turn into the world’s largest powder keg. The army is just too angry and too well-equipped to go in for any half measures. The TTP have made it clear that they are willing to die for their cause. The only person standing between the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and mindless slaughter is YOU. Mr. Khan, despite your misgivings about the government’s original sincerity about the dialogue process, I would strongly urge you to whole heartedly endorse the impending military operation. Your good intentions will all be for naught if you do not act decisively. Your endorsement will not only give the military free reign to maneuver in and out of Waziristan, but will also allow the Provincial machinery to assist in any way possible.
You know very well what happened the last time around. Thousands of Refugees are about to enter KPK, bringing along fleeing militants and a lot of backlash. The police and local intelligence need someone to rally behind. The provincial set up will be stretched to its limit and the country simply cannot afford your indifference or God Forbid you dharnas.
Your mission Mr. Khan, should you choose to accept it, will not be over when the dust settles. If efforts are not made to plug the gaping holes in FATA’s civilian administration, all this will be an exercise in futility. We Punjabis have a nasty little habit of wiping our hands clean before the job’s done. Economic pressures and lack of any pressing incentives will no doubt tempt the federal government to call it quits as soon as the boots are off the ground. But if steps are not taken to abolish Jirgas, repeal the FCR and fill the administrative vacuum with magistrates and civil servants the TTP will soon come back and in a year or two we will be right where we started.
If you really do care about the people of Waziristan and believe that they deserve the same rights and protection, the rest of us take for granted, you know what do. If you don’t I assure you, you will never forget your first time.