The Bajaur incident will cast its shadow not only on the future of the Federal Administrated Tribal Area (FATA) but also on the politics of NWFP in particular and the rest of the country in general. The political price the Government will pay for this misadventure notwithstanding, its impact on the relationship and interaction of the people vis-à-vis the national army seems ominous. The resultant Dargai incident is a case in point. What effect this has on the rank and file of the army, its internal discipline and morale needs careful consideration and delicate handling.

This incident has dealt a major blow to the credibility of the Government. In days to come the law and order situation in the province is likely to deteriorate and sense of insecurity will increase many folds. The politico-religious parties will take definite advantage of this incident and the resultant increased anti American sentiments.

It is time the Government goes back to the drawing board and rechecks its policy on the war on terror as a so-called frontline state for USA. The Government has to see whether it will continue to fight this war on terror on its soil as dictated by the US as is the case at present, or on its own terms and conditions, keeping in view the internal situation.

Pakistan has a fair share of responsibility in creating this jehadi culture, but others like US have contributed considerably too. Now that this “genie” of jehadism is out of the bottle it has to be put back in. This is a tall order and not an easy task. Pakistan must do all to fight religious extremism very deliberately and carefully keeping in view the religious sensitivities of this issue in our country.

Only when Pakistan really takes on religious extremism in its own interest and convinces its people of the same rather than at the behest of the Americans (a task it has failed in as of now), it can plan and execute various options keeping in view its own strengths and weaknesses. It will then not only find local support but also active cooperation from its populace. The people in Washington may not understand this but we in Pakistan cannot afford to be fool hardy and careless as we have demonstrated in Bajaur.

Basically North Waziristan pact is defective from the point of view that the Government has conceded too much to the militants/religious extremists. The two operative clauses of the agreement are that the militants would not attack the security forces and the security forces would not carry out any operations against the militants. Thus being at peace vis-à-vis the government, the so called Pakistani Talibans are running a parallel government, collecting taxes and dispensing justice. People are killed on charges of being government and US spies. The pro government maliks are being intimidated and killed. People including government servants are being kidnapped.

The fact that the US/Afghan Government does not like this pact is irrelevant. The government of Pakistan must consider that whether such an agreement for a temporary peace is in the long term interest of Pakistan. Is it not the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan to find solutions to its own problems? The explanation to US government and convincing them on the merits is secondary. The futility of this agreement is evident from the fact that militants in Bajaur still want to have a similar agreement even after Bajaur incident because it will give them a free license. The American ire and pre emption to sabotage this agreement in Bajaur further proves the point.

It is unbelievable that the Government of Pakistan who conceded so much to religious extremist in one agency and had started negotiating in another agency on similar lines, suddenly let hell loose on a madrassa and killed 83 people without confirming the intelligence on ground. Pakistan army is not a high tech army where it only acts on aerial photography on its own soil without confirming this technical information on ground. The strong point of Pakistan army vis-à-vis US army in Afghanistan is that Pakistan army has huge human intelligence organizations and the people on ground are its own people. The US army can afford to bomb and rocket wedding ceremonies in Afghanistan whereas Pakistan army cannot afford to do so. Mentioning correct ages to the parents of those who were killed amounts to rubbing salt over their wounds. If the Government cannot apologize to these people out of hubris, then at least they should keep quiet. Bajaur agency is the softest agency in the tribal areas. The people no longer carry arms and regular traffic plies between Swat, Dir and Peshawar via Minchin, Ghalanai, Mohammad Ghat, Khar, and Chakdara instead of the main artery of Peshawar, Mardan, and Chakdara due to the good condition of the road. This ill fated madrassa is 1or 2 km off this road.

Since the government was already negotiating a deal with militants on the lines of Waziristan and a ceremony was scheduled next day therefore the people find it hard to believe that the Government would bomb this madrassa suddenly. People no longer trust that the government is calling the shots and believe that it has compromised on its sovereignty over the tribal areas.

Negotiations and the use of force do not go together. Use of force is desirable only when negotiations fail and negotiators feel that such use of force would help in reaching a desired goal. The Government needs to demonstrate that we make our own decisions and implement them. We don’t have to be apologetic either towards US or the militants. That means we have to get tough both with US and the extremists in our own national interest if we have to survive as a nation.

US may be the sole super power but Pakistan with its military and nuclear arsenal should also be not considered a push over. We should not be so scared of the US might. Our lack of faith in Allah and our abilities has to account for it in a large way. The government just needs to have support of its own people and that support is either lacking or fast diminishing with Bajaur like incidents. Gone are the days of the Armitage warning of bombing us into the stone age. US ability to expand this war is now limited. The policies of Iran and Syria, brinkmanship of North Korea and the ensuing American responses, defeat of Republicans and the falling from grace of neo cons are all relevant in this regard.

This of course does not mean that we should wage a war against America but the least we can do is some straight talking. The Coalition has to take the blame for its own flawed policies. Instead of concentrating on their fight inside Afghanistan they find an easy scapegoat in Pakistan. Hamid Karzai will always see Mullah Umar in Quetta and Osama bin Laden in North Waziristan or Bajaur Agency. Wait for his next statement.

Last but not the least the Government of Pakistan need to have better coordination amongst its various agencies like the political administration, Army, ISI, MI and IB. The Government has no option other than working under the present administrative dispensation to work with political administration in the lead. All other agencies must be subordinated to the political administration which has not happened on ground as yet despite verbal claims to the contrary. At the same time it must continue to reform the present administrative structure as per reform agenda worked out.