Pakistani women and an Indo-Pakistan peace deal can end terrorism

Get the moms on board and then pray …



As a quick default response to the massacre of 132 schoolchildren and 13 adults in Peshawar, Pakistan on 16 December 2014, the Pakistan government has lifted the moratorium on convicts awaiting the death penalty. As retribution, it implies that these convicts had been the puppet masters of the atrocity. As dissuasion, it infers that they are in league with militants: by definition, convicted criminals are not enemy combatants and come under the protection of the penal code. The measure will allow the next attack to be prepared while it makes good press, and then dutifully slides under the carpet to resurface in different garb when required. In the meantime, the Pakistan army is steadily conducting its operation in North Waziristan.

Pakistan’s professional army recruits from hereditary Kshatriya warrior clans converted to Islam. The combination results in its high combat performance. But in this case the army is out of its depth. Like the US Navy SEALS who got Bin Laden, the Pakistan Army needs precise addresses and secure transport. It apparently has neither, only a vague geographical sector where it advertised its arrival, like its American step-cousin, losing the element of surprise and allowing targets to move house.

If reports are to be believed, elements within Pakistan’s security establishment have these addresses, but need the occupants as their delivery system for asymmetric mischief with India over a hemorrhaging property dispute.

In the likelihood that the addresses are surrendered and adequate transport is available, the targets will be efficiently dealt with.

But that only postpones the problem.

The mothers, paternal aunts and paternal grandmothers embedded in the joint family system will then swing into action. The targets’ surviving sons will be reared as vengeance machines, and in another few years, regardless of right or wrong, will seek to avenge their fathers. They might repeat their fathers’ acts, or attack senior officers involved in the operation, or assassinate their children.

The generals know this.

So once the Pakistan government is through with this hanging business and mob blood lust abates, they should go after the addresses. The intelligence officers who have them (if they do), are neither former United States’ Cold War mercenaries nor corrupt. They are Pakistan Military Academy graduates imbued with professional integrity. They have been conducting their operations with the conviction that they are best serving their nation’s interest in this way. Be that as may, that is how it stands. So grabbing a few and water boarding them is another dead end.

First, these officers need to be convinced that surrendering addresses is in the highest interest of their nation— an indispensable success cog.

Second, they and their families will need to go into a witness protection program— a tall order for a country renowned for its level of corruption.

Third, and most difficult, is peace with India, which would deprive these officers and their younger protégés of any motive to make and nurture such contacts.

Parallel with this measure is the mobilization of women, crucial to long-term success.

Only other women can suborn the mothers, paternal aunts and paternal grandmothers of the targets from a tradition practiced for thousands of years. They call it badal— exchange, a two-syllable, short word for a process that is propelled by dynamics indefinable in western terms.

So, unless a concentrated action to get these wives, mothers and sisters to condemn their kin, reject this custom and decentralize the joint family system is not launched, finding and punishing the latest perpetrators will only postpone further massacres by a decade or so.

Pakistan’s hello jee fashion parade ladies now need to justify their university education and drawing room hai jee patriotism by organizing women’s study groups on this subject. Their husbands are decision makers. These women need to brainstorm the issue, refine their ideas, play devil’s advocate with each other, and present the distilled results to their husbands with stern ultimata.

Mothers of victims and potential victims can convince other women that their husbands, sons and brothers were in the wrong.

Then it will end.

Silence of the lambs in Sidney Siege Rescue


Man Haron Monis, a renegade Muslim cleric single-handedly took a café full of patrons hostage at gunpoint in Sydney on December 14, 2014. Sixteen hours later, he was killed in a tragically successful police or Royal Australian Army rescue bid.

The tragedy is in the number of victims.

To take down a single, inexperienced terrorist, two dead hostages and four wounded including a police officer strikes a very odd note considering the level of anti-terrorist training and international cross-training since 2001.

Across the world, in countries far apart in time, space and state of development, there have been hostage situations involving highly trained, experienced and determined terrorists, outclassing Mosin, a single, auto-didactic terrorist of opportunity.

Yet, in relation to the number of hostages and battle-hardened terrorists, there was either no or minimal loss of life in the rescue operations. There have been no reports of rescuers shooting at each other, as would appear to be the case in Sydney, where one police officer reportedly received shotgun pellets in his face although Mosin is not known to have been armed with a shotgun.

It is also not clear whether Mosin killed the hostages or whether they were shot in a crossfire.

According to The Australian newspaper New South Wales state police commissioner Andrew Scipione “wouldn’t say whether two hostages who were killed – a 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman – were caught in crossfire, or shot by the gunman. Among the four wounded was a police officer.”

According to the BBC, the officer reportedly received shotgun pellets in the face and “Local media reports suggest the commandos from the Royal Australian Regiment entered the building after the gunman started firing shots.” These commandos are known to train with the famed British SAS and reckoned pretty good. So they were probably shackled by conflicting civilian decisions emanating from politicians who wanted the police cloned on to their possible success. Or at least, for their sakes, that is what one hopes …

Going in mob-handed led two families into mourning, four others into distress and careers to teeter on a razor’s edge.

Clarification will have to await a highly challenged PR team’s career-salvaging spin.

In the meantime, the most important lesson to be learned here is that of contingency planning and coordination.

Small scale, high intensity operations, in which the lives of innocent civilians hang in the balance are not an arena for inter-service rivalry, hasty planning, testing ground for mediocre training or pride. One, some or all of these appear to have tarnished what could have been an exemplary operation serving as a stellar message to would-be terrorists.

Scrambling for calm, the Australians have also reassured the public that this was the act of a lone gunman.


Going by the results of the rescue operation, this statement— as hasty as the planning for the rescue bid— might boomerang to haunt the Australian government.

To cut a long story short, this business is a game of tactical chess into which the Australians have never had to sink their teeth except as auxiliaries for American policy. They would do well to train with politically neutral forces such as the British SAS or French Foreign Legion.

Crying victory at this stage would be pre and immature.