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TANK’ AND BACK

The drone war will continue unabated and there is nothin­g that Imran Khan can do about it. Imran Khan’s speech at Tank was laced with his usual toxic anti-Americanism but he also managed a few sensible words.

Marchers at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) South Waziristan peace march were prohibited by the military to enter the tribal areas. To call this rally a peace march is an insult to the word ‘peace’. In carrying out this little exercise, Imran Khan explicitly chose a side: that of the Taliban over the state. So rigid and extreme are the Taliban that they ultimately refused to guarantee the safety of even those people who were coming to protest their biggest enemy: the US. This, therefore, shows the skewed morality of Imran Khan. No one doubts that drone attacks kill civilians but at the same time, there is no question that the Taliban kill more civilians than the US. Yet, for Imran Khan, there is only one party to blame and that is the one which takes relatively greater care in trying to avoid civilian casualties.

Imran Khan’s speech at Tank was laced with his usual toxic anti-Americanism but he also managed a few sensible words. He promised to abolish the Frontier Crimes Regulation if he comes into power, echoing the words of the PPP in 2008 and showing that the PTI is not completely aligned with the extreme religious right.

And while the PTI may not have reached South Waziristan, it was entirely successful in reaching its target voter: the middle-class urbanite who is imbued with religious nationalism and a corresponding mistrust of the US. As an electoral stunt, his march was a rousing success. In every other sense, it failed to change anything.

The drone war will continue unabated and there is nothing that Imran Khan can do about it. This is why criticisms that the march will make it harder to defeat the Taliban are a bit overblown. Sure, we got another glimpse of where the PTI’s allegiances lie but neither the military nor the US will do anything except ignore the party. The problem will come if the PTI wins the elections and takes the reins of power. For now, the party is relatively harmless, able to make a lot of noise without affecting policy. However, that could change come election time and it is something everyone wanting to fight militancy should be wary of.

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