Wednesday, May 25, 2016

From unworkable reconciliation to deadly war

Nasim Zehra,

Image from, with caption: An Afghan man reads a local newspaper with photos of the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mansour, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December.

Late night calls from American secretary of state and from the Kabul-based Nato head, Gen Nicholas, had informed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the army chief that an American Special Ops drone would target the Taliban’s Mullah Mansour. By early Saturday evening the news of Mullah Mansour’s death went viral. In Pakistan the officials initially opted for silence. There were apparently no consultations between the country’s chief executive and the military command on how to deal with the development in the sphere of public diplomacy.
For Islamabad the killing of Mullah Mansour – and on Pakistani territory – was a fait accompli. Pakistan had to speak of this to Pakistan and to the world. The prime minister flew off on a private visit to London; and his hyperactive media team seemed to be on mute. And the army chief, on Sunday morning, put his hyper-tweeting ISPR on silence. Pakistan’s media, meanwhile, filled digital space and the airwaves with reports, queries and commentaries.
Between a belated-statement and news leaks Pakistan’s official position was: Pakistan’s PM and army chief were informed of the drone strike but the country was still collecting details, Mullah Mansour’s death was unconfirmed, the drone attack violated Pakistan’s sovereignty, a “politically negotiated settlement” was the only viable option for peace in Afghanistan and Mullah Mansour had travelled from Iran to Pakistan and was probably attacked near the border.
Interestingly, Pakistan’s repeated protests over US drone attacks targeting the Afghan Taliban on Pakistani territory are now a routine affair. ...

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