Islamabad, Oct. 1, 2013: At last it is confirmed that the most hated person in the world, Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the militant outfit with very close ties both with the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda, is dead.
TTP that has been responsible for countless acts of genocide; kidnappings; kidnappings for ransom; suicide bombings; attacks on important military and civilian installations within Pakistan and abroad. At long last after countless hits and misses, the drones have finally achieved their objective. An objective that was achieved at the cost of loss of thousand of innocent, unarmed civilian lives, including women and children.
Just the last week, the drones, were at the heart of the heated incamera debate between prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Obama. With Nawaz insisting that the drone attacks were causing too much collateral damage and Obama insisting that the Americans had no other viable option but to continue with this policy.
Is it a moment to rejoice or to lament, only time will tell, because the Taliban, is a menace like the mythological Hydra. You decapitate one head and a hundred new ones grow. Many defense analysts are of the firm view that his death might be a setback in the short term but in the long term, it amounts to nothing. So, because, the Taliban is not an organization that is dependent upon the existence of personalities but is an ideology. This fact was proved beyond reasonable doubt at the death of Osama bin Laden.
With his death many thought that Al-Qaeda had been annihilated but they were wrong, as the recent attacks by one of its subsidiaries, Al-Shabaab, were ruthlessly carried out in Nairobi, Westgate shopping mall, show. The TTP like the Al-Shabab has also very strong ties with the Al-Qaeda.
Most of the defense analysts and strategic think tanks, belonging to America, Pakistan and the rest of the world are of the strong opinion that both the governments of America and Pakistan, must be ready for a spree of violent acts that are to take place in the wake of the death of the TTP chief, Hakeemullah Mehsud.
It is a dream to fully annihilate the menace of Taliban, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan before the ISAF and the NATO forces are pulled out of Afghanistan, but what is possible is to limit their sphere of influence and that can only be achieved when America, Afghanistan and Pakistan are on the same page.
Further, what is the dire need of this crucial hour is that the Taliban whether the Afghan brand or the TTP, must somehow be convinced that it is in the interest of all the stake-holders that peace talks be initiated in order to find a solution to the problem haunting not only Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the whole of the world especially America.
For the time being , though, it will not be possible and as noted above the Americans and the Pakistani governments must reinforce their strategic installations against an attack by the TTP. The present situation, especially with the death of the TTP leader, Hakeemullah Mehsud, is very volatile and needs constant and vigilant screening.
Written By: Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada