El Dramatico

Imran Khan’s recent march to Waziristan has drawn all kinds of commentary, some of it also from people who let their personal opinions cloud their sense of reason and logic. This is exemplified in this article, among others, which makes the following claims:

1. IK and the marchers are lying. One of the lies is that state policy is endangering Pakistan and Pakistanis.
2. IK is going to South Waziristan whereas drone attacks take place in North Waziristan.
3. IK is sensationalizing issues to increase traction in a nationalistic Punjab.
4. IK is “rattling the American cage” to increase traction in KPK.
5. IK is endangering Pakistan and Pakistanis.
6. IK is against the army’s mission.
7. IK is against getting rid of militants and the infrastructure of jihad.
8. IK is pulling wool over the public’s eyes and not letting them see the real enemy.
9. IK is enabling an environment of militancy, extremism and radicalism.

Here is an examination of each of the above points.

1. IK and the marchers are lying. One of the lies is that state policy is endangering Pakistan and Pakistanis.
The march is against drone strikes, which are well documented to cause high collateral damage. They fuel anti-Americanism and anti-Pakistan sentiment, among both the affectees and the general public. The state policy of condoning these attacks is thus directly endangering Pakistan and Pakistanis.
2. IK is going to South Waziristan whereas drone attacks take place in North Waziristan.
Maybe because IK is not suicidal. South Wazirisitan is still a lost closer to the actual affected area than the armchairs of most critics.
3. IK is sensationalizing issues to increase traction in a nationalistic Punjab.
Punjabis are not the only ones taking part in the march. The drone attack issue is genuine and recognized internationally (to be illegal).
4. IK is “rattling the American cage” to increase traction in KPK.
IK has had a consistent stance for years now: trade not aid, stop fighting someone else’s war, cease drone attacks. This march is a pre-planned event consistent with these policies. It did not materialize out of thin air.
5. IK is endangering Pakistan and Pakistanis.
There has been no report of people being forced into the march. Participants are informed adults. Some are even sad to miss out. In the longer term, it is not clear how a cessation of drone attacks will endanger Pakistan and Pakistanis. Note that IK calls for an end to drone strikes, not for an end to dealing with the terrorist menace.
6. IK is against the army’s mission.
The march is against drone attacks. It has nothing to do with the army or its mission.
7. IK is against getting rid of militants and the infrastructure of jihad.
See the responses to points 5 and 6 above. IK calls for alternative means to deal with these elements, rather than ones with a 2% success rate.
8. IK is pulling wool over the public’s eyes and not letting them see the real enemy.
The march calls for an end to drone strikes. They are a severe problem for Pakistan and Pakistani citizens. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister has been clamoring the same. This stance in no way obscures the threat of militancy. And there is nothing to say that the same goals cannot be achieved through legal and less punitive ways.
9. IK is enabling an environment of militancy, extremism and radicalism.
Drone attacks directly fuel further militancy, extremism and radicalism. Calling for their end is a move towards limiting the spread of these elements in our society, not promoting them.

The author of the article does a good job of dramatizing the situation. In the process, annoyances like facts are not allowed to get in the way of the narrative. It is therefore not surprising that the article is devoid of any argument or evidence to back up its claims. After all, when weaving a drama based on an alternate storyline involving real world characters, the author’s creative freedom need not be constrained by the banality of reality.

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