Operation? | Shahram Azhar
June 23, 2014 § 1 Comment
“War is politics by other means”. As a result, the success or failure of a military operation is determined, in the final analysis, by its political impact. The United States, for example, did not lose the war against an impoverished Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City; rather the United States lost its imperialist war in the streets of Washington D.C where millions of young working class, progressive and peace-loving American citizens marched against their own imperialist state.
The main point that we need to consider in terms of deciding why we must oppose this operation that is being conducted in FATA today is that its political considerations are rooted in the colonial nature of the Pakistani state: colonial, in the precise sense that FATA is a peripheral region WITHIN a peripheral country (Pakistan). The word “Federally Administered” does not leave a lot to the imagination: it is governed by a colonial law from 1901. The “center” appoints a political agent who is judge, jury and executioner in FATA. The elected representatives of FATA are not sovereign: this is precisely how we define a DICTATORSHIP. To put it in absolutely clear terms, FATA is a colony of Pakistan.
Some people fear that when the TTP takes over (God forbid) they are going to install an ‘archaic’ legal system that will create the worst possible dictatorship we have ever seen. It is unfortunate that these people do not see that the people of FATA are ALREADY GOVERNED by an archaic dictatorial law—the FCR—the law is so barbaric that it allows for collective punishments of entire families. It is so barbaric and archaic that in 2011 a 6 year old girl (Zarmina) was punished for a crime committed by her uncle.
As long as you continue to examine the question from the perspective of the nation-state (Pakistan)—which is controlled by its ruling-classes— rather than the perspective of the PEOPLE of FATA you will make the mistake of assuming that the operation will achieve its political goals.
Support for an undemocratic (undemocratic from the perspective of the local population) operation is bad politics for the simple reason that
1) It ignores the guerrilla nature of the war and the fact that guerrilla armies thrive upon local support. As a result, an undemocratic operation that forces eviction upon millions will only add further fuel to an already precarious situation.
2) It ignores the POLITICAL content of “war” by using politically meaningless terms like “surgical strikes”.
The question is not whether or not “war” is a good or a bad thing in general. I am not one of those people who oppose this operation because I oppose war in general. I am not a pacifist although I am pro-peace. All that I am saying is that the choice of making war (or conducting talks, or doing something else) should be arrived at via the popular consent of the people of FATA. In the absence of this political consent the people of this region (that is still governed by the colonial legal fabric) will be further driven towards the Islamo-fascist opposition that we want to eliminate from our social fabric.