Army of Frankensteins

05Dec09

AP photo in Dawn-Army troops gather at the site of a suicide attack in Rawalpindi

At least 40 people were killed in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi yesterday. Maybe because the attack targeted Muslim worshippers gathered for what is in the Islamic cultural of the subcontinent the week’s most important namaz many reacted by declaring that this CANNOT have been done by Pakistanis. For whatever reason, it is increasingly the rhetoric in ordinary Pakistanis. I’m not sure what that means, I said in response, and say it again now. This angle is being perpetuated by the ‘star’ television anchors on the Urdu networks. And if you press your memory, or better still do a bit of research on the internet, you will find that this line first came from men like Rehman Malik, the Minister of Interior, and the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. I do not think that I am incorrect when I point out that these are two of the most despised people in power right now. It would do us well to not fall for propaganda at this time. It is clear that neither the government, the state nor the army appear to be able to contain the explosion of terror in this country right now. It is the easiest way out to point fingers at external forces. It is also easier for a beleaguered, disillusioned people to go along with the theory of the ‘foreign hand’ rather than to carry on questioning and loathing themselves.

Not to mention that even if there are external forces at play, the fact remains that the men who entered the mosque with no regard to the lives of 16 innocent children were Pakistanis. The men who flung grenades, fired shots, and eventually detonated their explosives, killing themselves and those 16 children were not Americans, Israelis or Indians. They were in fact Pakistanis, and they had enough conviction and grievances to go through with this terrible act of violence.

When we talk about the nature of the attack and the method used, it seems that the Pakistani terrorist is evolving. One of the earlier reports indicated that the men (the number changed from 6 to 2) wore bulletproof vests, carried grenades and automatic weapons. This is a step up from the ‘simple’ suicide vest of the recent past. I think there are a few important points in this.

What we are witnessing is urban guerrilla warfare in Pakistan in a civil-war situation, and it is rapidly becoming more sophisticated. As we now know the fidayeen style of attack was cultivated by the Pakistan army and intelligence agencies for use against India in Kashmir. These groups were cultivated in Southern Punjab and are now being coined in both the national and international press as the ‘Punjabi Taliban’. After 9/11, I remember the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and other such charmers were claimed to be part of the al-Qaeda, but in recent times we see that the word Taliban appears to be expanding in definition to encompass all sorts of terrorists/militants. It also makes it easier to lump them all together if you say Punjabi Taliban, Swat Taliban and Waziristan Taliban. It certainly appears to be what the terrorists are doing. The lethal combination of the fidayeen-suicide attack is a developing phenomenon, which indicates that the various creations of the Pakistan army and intelligence agencies are uniting.

Blogger Kalsoom Lakhani rightly points out in her post published shortly after the attack:

The oft-branded “Taliban” is not a cohesive or localized organization, but a loose network of militant groups, each with varying agendas and objectives, but able to share information and collaborate on attacks. Therefore, the attack on the Rawalpindi mosque may have indirectly involved the “Taliban” the military is fighting in South Waziristan, but it may have been directly carried out by Punjab-based militant groups. […] To my knowledge, the Pakistani government has not developed an adequate strategy of tackling this militant nexus, an approach that should operate in tandem to the military offensive in South Waziristan.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=pakistan+terror&iid=7234434″ src=”9/8/b/5/Suicide_Attack_in_8d12.JPG?adImageId=8038236&imageId=7234434″ width=”380″ height=”252″ /]

This morning the Dawn newspaper editorial follows a similar line. It makes the point in passing, but persists in doing so:

In these columns, we have repeatedly warned the security establishment here that any ‘good Taliban/bad Taliban’ distinction needs to be dropped for the long-term security of the country.

You know what that means. It may have been true that these groups were useful at some point to the Pakistani state, but that time is over now. Our analysts keep referring to the ‘Frankensteins’ created by the establishment. They are all coming together in a sizable army, and they have a plan. To counter the plan a clearly devised strategy needs to be developed. Time and again, we have seen that the groups targeting Kashmir are ignored. They are banned, but only to re-emerge under a new name. As the Dawn newspaper editorial warns that kind of nurturing of militancy must come to an end. That may be a good place to start.

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42 Responses to “Army of Frankensteins”

  1. 1 Dileep

    Great article. Thank you.

  2. 2 ranasamir

    well said

  3. 3 Timothy Thompson

    Frankenstein’s monsters they are.

    Take Pakistani tribals. Add ISI leadership and training. Feed with money from the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Equip with captured Soviet weapons from Israel. Top with Saudi indoctrination which comes bound to their money. What one gets is a lethal monster which kills every infidel in sight. Unless people adhere to the monsters’ very narrow definition of Islam, they are non-Believers, just so much fodder for explosives.

    The spooks call it “Blowback”.

    When will the politicians in Islamabad and the military in Rawalpindi catch on? Their creations are trying to kill them and establish “pure” Islamic rule in Pakistan or least parts of Pakistan. This is unrestricted civil war. Army House is fair game. The National Assembly is fair game. Mosques filled with “false” Believers are fair game. Anything or anyone who stands in the way of an Islamic Emirate of Pakistan is fair game. Politicians and generals and their families are no longer safe because they know or used to know some Taliban leader. The monsters have slipped their chains and they are loose in the streets.

    This ends when the all the Taliban movements are defeated or when Pakistan accedes to a Taliban Emirate. Pakistan kills the monsters or the monsters kill Pakistan.

  4. naveen:

    not accusing you…but when you say…

    And if you press your memory, or better still do a bit of research on the internet, you will find that this line first came from men like Rehman Malik, the Minister of Interior, and the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. I do not think that I am incorrect when I point out that these are two of the most despised people in power right now….

    why do you gloss over the likes of your colleagues like hamid mir etc. ? etc. including other media bigwigs…. not you….

    • temporal, thanks for your comment. Actually, what I wrote right before the lines you’ve quoted is this:

      ‘This angle is being perpetuated by the ’star’ television anchors on the Urdu networks. ‘

      You may be right that I haven’t spent enough time talking about the role of the anchors in question, but I thought what followed is the more important point. It is crucial for us to differentiate between information and disinformation, propaganda and news…if that is at all possible.

      • naveen:

        It is crucial for us to differentiate between information and disinformation, propaganda and news…if that is at all possible.

        not easy! all of us have blinkers:)

        one can try and be fair … but given the prevailing winds even that is a seemingly gargantuan task

        pseudo nationalism contributes to this terminal curse

  5. Very well assessed and written, I must say.

  6. 8 Amjad

    Good point.

    I don’t understand what is keeping the government from sacking rehman malik. even if it doesnt change things dramtically, the guy is doing more harm than good in his job.

  7. It is encouraging to see there are people in Pakistan who can understand the real issue. This Frankenstein is turning on their masters or manipulators but ironically there is no stopping to it either through design or ignorance or lack of capacity. The politicians and establishment are shamefully busy in NROs and other non issues without coming to a clear strategy to deal with this Frankenstein. A recent article by Macleans clearly indicates the intentions and goals of the so-called establishment to nurture yet another Frankenstein.
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/12/02/the-terror-game/
    Sometime, I really feel disgusting to keep on talking on such pessimistic note but then you have no option if your love ones are there and suffering. I wish the people of Pakistan understand their strength and get the courage to ask their rulers where they are heading them.

  8. maveen:

    point taken!

    laikin bhai….(ok behen if you want to be technical;))

    these colleagues are a great part of this spin (no i would not call it disinformation)

    and for for most of (like me in the diaspora) and others in the desh….these voices contribute to the spin

    digression:

    the perpetrators are amongst us

    this is our unique misfortune

  9. 11 Hasan Pervez

    You are correct in pointing out the obvious fact that the perpetrators of this and other such attacks were not ‘American, Israelis or Indians’. Because they belong to territories that lie within the political boundaries of Pakistan they qualify as Pakistanis.

    But I feel its time people like you should raise the debate to another level. Its time we redefine the concept of being Pakistani.

    Clearly there are people within our boundaries inimical to the Pakistani state. Do these people qualify as Pakistanis merely by virtue of living in this country? Given the fact that such people are working in partnership with states and forces hostile to Pakistan, and aim to create anarchy and eventually balkanize the country, its difficult to term them Pakistanis.

    People who believe in the federation of Pakistan within its exisiting political boundaries, and who subscribe to the concept of a Pakistani state are Pakistanis. The rest are not.

  10. Am so gad u are back :). It’s a natural reaction from the majority because for us-no matter how barbaric one can get- attacking mosques is still a shocking incident. At one point we want to accept that these are religious extremist and as we do we still can’t figure out how a ‘religious’ fanatic would carry out an attack of this stature on a mosque that too on Juma prayers.
    So what do we do? like any normal person we try and disconnect ourselves from these incidents because its the easy way out.
    We want to say “its not us, its the enemy” because well that will save us a hell of a lot of pain. Most of our people are not well-versed in Islamic history, their only definition of religion is SACRED. But if we take a quick peek, religion (and Islam isn’t the only one) has always been used as a tool by power mongers.
    So when we say we want people to get out of this phase we need to set ideologies straight. People’s opinion have only been amplified by the media. It’s about time we get over with the ‘oh we are so shocked’ phase and embrace that these men are terrorist and hence are capable of doing just about anything to provoke fear.

  11. The most disturbing phenomenon is the express denial cited by a majority of Pakistanis – they simply refuse to accept the fact that it’s the same Taliban killing their innocents, who were orchestrated as ‘good’ some time back as an official policy and which our mainstream media people have been very reluctant to criticize.
    It is of course natural that we need here is an immediate opinion shift and that we are unable to achieve, considering the government propagation machine expended for years to convince us of the goodness of these very barbarians.
    Such arrogant ignorance on the part of an average Pakistani is all the more dangerous when punjabi jihadi militants have joined ranks with Talibans and are apparently operating in collaboration with them.
    The point to note here is that the very same authorities were bickering our heads off with Taliban as behind it all. And now, all of the sudden, the famous Rehman Malik has rearranged guns to blame India. Apparently, it’s only to cover a failed strategy to counter Taliban and buy off some sympathy from the masses.

  12. Time and again when these attacks happen we tend to recognize the shock value only when something close to our hearts or minds or souls like this mosque are hit, we cry foul over it and then the next attack happens. There is rampant checking on roads now, the stretched beyond limits police force and rangers are trying to protect a fence which has so many holes in it that a virtual army can slip through. What is actually missing from this whole scenario is support from our ulema. Please list the no of ulema who have come on tv and condemned this attack on a mosque? Compare that to what happened when “Babri masjid” in India was attacked and razed to the ground? this will give you the answer, i agree very much with what temporal says the real enemy is within us, it is the misguided upper classes who still term this a foreign war and the masses of religious zealots just waiting for a chance to take over and form the “Islamic caliphate of Pakistan”

    They refer to us as Kaffirs we refer to them as monsters..it will only end when one of us is finished.

    • Faisal, it must be said that whenever Islamic scholars have spoken out against suicide attacks, militancy or the Taliban, they too have been targeted. Mufti Sarfraz Naeemi is just one who comes to mind. There are several others who have lost their lives. I remember when I presented Breakfast at Dawn Dr Khalid Zaheer said very clearly that it was a sad truth that ‘progressive’ Islamists, as they are known, were scared to speak their minds.

      • 16 Ali

        I’ve recently come to know that there is recent Fatwa by Tahir-ul-qadri declaring Suicide attacks as Haram! Hopefully someone will carry out some story on that..

    • Thanks for sharing that with us, Ali.

  13. The ghouls of our past are haunting us. While we experimented in creating the Frankensteins for the various masters whose money fed our leaders for years, we did not expect them to grow at a pace far outside our control.

    Lack of religious knowledge in the Muslims of our country helped inculcate and incubate this menace and the only solution to eradicate is implementation of a proper Islamic education system.

    This will counter the rhetoric and brainwash of these groups forcing a stop to their growth.

    • 19 Anoop

      Religion is not the answer. Common Sense is. I am not saying Religion is not common sense but Religion is basically an ideology about a power that we have not witnessed personally and is just hearsay.

      Proper education and establishment of democratic values is the answer. Please look at how India toiled to establish democracy and learn. India is the best model for Pakistan.

  14. 20 shobz

    It was a sad day for all of us as terrorists struck again. They spilled so much blood and they are not going to rest until there are rivers of blood everywhere. I agree with you on your point that our people are so disillusioned that they are pointing fingers at external forces. How do they even know that external forces are allegedly responsible for all the bombings? If these people are allegedly responsible then why are our own Pakistanis helping carry out the attacks at the end of the day. Why don’t our “responsible” media do something about it rather than blame external forces? There is the urgency to actually find the perpetrators and not to pin it on external elements. If we can contain this internally then no one ruin it for us. We need to win the war within. I can bet the army is regretting creating an “Army of Frankensteins” and giving them too much support. It has backfired on their faces now. May Allah save us from them all.

  15. 21 Rabail

    Very factual. Our own trained pets gone wild noww!

  16. They (Taliban) have been created by the military. True. But in whose hands they are playing now?

    I have a serious concern that there are militant (Taliban) sympathizers within our military and establishment. While you must have noticed none of the religious leaders (political one) categorically denounces such attacks or Taliban because they fear for their own lives. Taliban have grown too strong.

  17. I was looking for a solution. Finally found here in your concluding note in reference to DAWN editorial.

    *There are no good/bad Talibans. And as Timothy simply suggested kill all Monsters before they kill Pakistan. But for sure, before they are vanished, they will attempt to kill as many Army related personnel and ordinary Pakistanis – how we expect from them to play by book and observe Islamic principles? – it is too naive to expect all this decency from a declared monster. We have declared Islam of Taliban is not the right brand and we also expect them to observe sanctity of mosques when back-lashing to their cleansing program.

    *All Jihadis have common agenda so militant groups targeting Kashmir should be also killed (mere disbanding does not work) and their Punjabi cousins (aka Punjabi Talibans) should be drone attacked since they all are supporting each other.

    *No one mentioned here, but all Islamic madrassas should be closed immediately across the board since these are nurseries of future sympathizers of militant groups if not go step ahead and join them.

    *all the personnel in armed forces or government institutions who have a trace of any soft corner for monsters should be persecuted in Abu Gharib or Gitmo type jails

    *All religious leaders who don’t come on TV, same day as any back-lash incident happens, to strongly condemn the monsters should be exiled to a place called Ko Kaf so they can dance with fairies as a practice opportunity before these blessed souls dance in heaven with Hoors.

    *If possible, Ata Turk type of Islam should be introduced in Pakistan. Pervaiz Musharraf had a plan but this desire of his was jeopardized by ill-planned 9/11. We should all support Marvi memon who is doing her best for his re-incarnation. So he can come in power once again to fulfill his Ata Turkise Pakistan

    All of the above should happen before “strong” Talibans attack me or kill Pakistan. Looks like – Do more – appeals are only being listened by monsters and for Rahman Malik – it is – Do More – Negligence so monsters can penetrate the “most secured” place at their will.

    Can we kill Monsters having a Clan ruling us? Of that clan, he is the Shining Star? If someone expects that, then we deserve a place in Fool’s paradise more than a monster deserves.

    The choice is ours – to speedy kill the monsters and send them to fool’s paradise or get bomb blasted and reach there before monster arrives.

    I am feeling myself very wise after writing this “rant shant” and dying to appear on a TV talk show or at least on LBS(laid back show of faisal kapadia) to spill out my wisdom and impress the nation by my grasp on this grave situation and a way out.

    Who said Jokers don’t exist in Chaos time? But they are called “Intellectuals” in crisis time and comment on blogs in free time as ‘Lucky Irani Circus’ is closed due to security reasons.

    P.S – if I sound insane, then join me as any one expecting sanity in these turmoils (Fasad fil Ardh) is an insane without any doubt.

  18. The blog post is now reading very much like an official statement from the Indian Foreign Ministry. It is sad that it takes these kind of dastardly acts of terrorism for Pakistan to realize the folly of using rogue elements as instruments of state policy.

    It is better late than never. If Pakistan has to salvage the situation even now, it has to come out of the denial mode, accept that there is an internal problem, and dismantle the complete network of terror it so assiduously built over the years.

    However, if the Pak media and the people still continue to overlook the problem and see the non existent foreign hand in the terror acts perpetrated, the situation might become very difficult to salvage from here on.

  19. 25 Debitum Naturae

    The Increasing incidence of ‘terrorism’ in Pakistan suggests that the Pakistanis need the 30,000 US troops deployed in pakistan more than the Afghans.

    The ultimate resposibility for this and other recent atrocities lies firmly in the hands of a weak and feeble Pakistani government and army. Our leaders and its army are the biggest terrorists and pose the greatest threat to our security of life.

    If it is commonly accepted by the people of this nation that their president was responsible for the murder of his own wife, if the US intellegence agencies could kill one of their own presidents, JFK, and furthermore orchestrate the death of almost 3000 of its own people in the 911 attacks, send its troops into illegal wars to illegally occupy sovereign lands, killing hundreds and thousands of innocent people, then how can you trust these same people to protect us???
    Our leaders need to have bogeymen, like the US created the communist threat (when anyone with even a small amount of intellect could easily see that the russians were way behind in the arms race), then they created the islamic threat, even though most so called islamic nations very totally secular, apart from KSA who have always been best buddies with the USA. Pakistan previously had the Indian threat over kashmir and now the ‘taliban’.

    The US will continue to support and fund our weak and corrupt governments and armies as long as our governments and armies continue to terrorise their citizens.

  20. Laying aside the conspiracy theories that tend to ignite passions to make us all blind in the short term the question is how would what is happening now take everyone to the future.

    Frankenstein getting more agitated and counter measures ending up in more loses such that masses end up having no way but to believe the propaganda to alleviate the pain? Or Is there a new dream that the masses can connect to.Fear and forgiveness is a tough one to go together voluntarily without having the balm of time where there is no losses of life.

    Every country in its history has had its brush with warfare.Right now its the moment for Pakistan to decide if its going to be main way or collaborate to find a new dream while the armed struggle is co-coordinating to bring a dream through havoc.

  21. 27 Liberal

    Coming from India, for many Pakistani friends, this suggestion would more be under scrutiny and suspicion rather than have any serious look at it as a viewpoint from an aggrieved neighbor. The problem lies in the mindset where most of the Pakistanis do not comprehend a disposition other than the current one which has taught the “Hindu India” a lesson many a times besides having equipped itself with nukes. But, in the process of doing all this Pakistan overlooked other strategic implications of such a disposition; the implication of becoming a dangerous place for not only the neighbors but also the whole industrialized world who now view Pakistan’s nukes as potential threat and even refer to it as a rogue disposition.

    Under such circumstances, who would come for the rescue of a self imploding state. Why would a far away world save a self imploding distant state which is considered a dangerous place in the world. Obviously, the only ones who would have to salvage the situation would be the most affected ones, i.e. the Pakistani masses. So, the moot question is about “””from where the masses would pick the threads”””” to salvage it.

    Many a Pakistani commentators feel pride in picking the threads from the Mughal era, even fancying another Panipat like war by a Muslim Pakistan to lay siege over Hindu India. People of lesser historical memory would like to pick the threads from the woes and bloodshed of 1947. Little less wounded ones would like to pick the threads by rather displaying LondonTimes of 1971 carrying a story of India’s involvement in raising of Mukti Bahini in Bangladesh. Yet many wise leaders always wanted to bury the past and pick the threads from the contemporary events of the history.

    Late ZA Bhutto wanted to bury everything upto 1971 and started afresh from Simla agreement of 1972. But that was thwarted by Gen Zia. Later Mian Nawaz Sharief tried to start afresh with AB Vajpayee by signing LahoreDeclaration in Feb 1999. Again it was thwarted by Gen Parvez Musharraf by scaling the Kargil heights. In all these attempts the noteworthy characteristic has been that the representatives of the masses always wanted to start afresh but to the discomfort of those who want to live in the distant history, at whatever cost! However, there still lies an opportunity to start afresh from the immediate past, i.e. 26/11 Mumbai Attack.

    The choice lies with Pakistan masses if they would like to pick the threads from 26/11 and start afresh once again instead of starting from Mughal era. Because the solution to everything, including to AfPak lies in peace with the neighbors including India and Afghanistan and the whole subcontinent. Both India as well as Afghanistan are craving for a stable Pakistan. TTP in fact is a freak accident caused by reckless maneuvering by non-state actors. The real challenge is to avert any bigger accident.

  22. 28 Mohsin Meer

    Debitum Naturae: The threats mentioned by you save many economies from total collapse but at the expense of chaos in areas which are far away from the base location of creators of threats. Moreover, some people always need threats like Kashmir and Taliban and if Talibans finish – a fresh new one – so their Incorporations stay in business and how many kitchens see fire in result of fire in some one else house. These chaos are not created in a short period and will not end by simple formula – kill all monsters. How about the trial of creators of these Monsters which have turned in to Frankeisteins due to creator’s mismanagement of affairs?

    Why only punish Frankeisteins? Their creators and past supporters also deserve some divine poetic justice. The drama is on and curtians will not fall until all the characters get what they deserve as per their performance.

    • 29 Debitum Naturae

      Very much agree with you Mohsin, it all boils down to ‘Money and Power’.

      Also it seems that Naveen and many that have commented on this blog have clearly misused the term ‘Frankenstein/s’.

      Just for the record, in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein was the scientist who creates the monster who is left nameless and is correctly referred to as Frankenstein’s monster.

      Hence, you cannot refer to the ‘different Taliban Factions’ as an ‘army of Frankensteins’. Frankenstein would be a suitable name for the ‘establishment’ that created these so-called ‘monsters’

      If I remember correctly, Dr Frankenstein fails to control the monster he created and in fact destroys himself in his pursuit of destroying the ‘monster’.

      We will not find peace until we allow others around us to live in peace.

  23. 30 Mohsin Meer

    The essence of the whole discussion is a simple statement by Debitum Naturae .

    “We will not find peace until we allow others around us to live in peace.”

    And this should be a base start towards permanent solution of the present chaos in world – no permanet peace until all factions agree to allow all others to live in peace. Any breach of trust by even a single stakeholder will be a big hurdle to find a solution – the whole world is dying to get. The survival of mankind depends on the above simple solution and Debitum said it so simply and so plain that I could hear it loud and clear among all other distracting noises.

  24. Debitum Naturae: Yes, you have a point there. In my opinion as per your explanation, the title should be “Army of Frankenstein” or “Monsters of Frankenstein”.

    Naveen – Since you put these article on facebook also and it is suggested that discussion over there also somehow should be brought here. Some interesting and thoughtful comments over there. Below is the link;

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/pages/Naveen-Naqvi-DawnNews/167424202780?ref=nf


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