(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following rejoinder by General (retd) Tariq Khan is in response to a write up by Farooq Malik Bangash, Naryab after an interview on ARY (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbx9XFCLZzc&t=301s ). The text in red italics are the points raised by Farooq Malik Bangash which were posted on his Facebook Page and circulated via What’s app messages. The text in black is response by Lt General (retd) Tariq Khan.)
By Lt General (retd) Tariq Khan
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: The author of this diatribe is someone who was released from the Army, amongst a group of like- minded people, on account of their dubious character. He is angry and I understand his anger but it is directed at the wrong person. It appears he does not like me though we have never had the pleasure of meeting each other but in keeping with his past conduct he never tried to clarify a single point with me before going on his tirade and on which he shows great concern and all for the glory of Pakistan. That is the norm, that one examines the other side of the story before giving one’s opinion contesting it. But, I do not think this author’s upbringing could have included such irritants as honour or principle so we can overlook this omission.
I was advised not to respond to him and under most circumstances I would not have but then I thought the better of it. Since he had attacked not only my person which is really not a matter of concern to me or to anyone else, but the very operations involving the country, the rank and file, junior officers, the many who embraced shahadat – and he blatantly and shamelessly qualifies his nonsense for the ‘glorification of Pakistan’. I was a little surprised that an officer with his background could still like to come onto the social media when other people with his credentials, would hide away in shame for what they were and were discovered to be. Nevertheless. I move onto the substance of this post:
NO FACTS – ALL FALSE
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: It’s not what is said that really matters, it’s who is saying it, which does. Mark Twain famously said, ‘First get your facts and then distort them anyway you want’, but getting the fact first is essential.
Someone said that “in times of deceit telling the truth is revolutionary act.” Yet another idiot said that “there are no facts, only interpretations.”
From what I have seen so far it appears there is no monopoly on idiots then. I was advised not to engage in this argument and I do agree, because you cannot win an argument with an idiot. He first drags you down to his limited level and then beats you with his vast experience. However, I decided to take a chance but with the sole purpose of clarifying some of the issues that were raised – for the greater glory of Pakistan, as the author likes to qualify.
Above show must have been widely seen by many. Surely so much must have gone unnoticed where scrutiny alone would bring things to justice.
The author thinks he has the qualification, knowledge and experience to bring about that scrutiny – contradict everything on a mere whim and hope to shine in the two minutes of glory while he basks in the sunlight of fame.
I have never met nor served under Gen Tariq in person. My views pro or contrary are purely professional, nonetheless but to glorify Pakistan.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN:Had he served a little longer, he may have had an opportunity to have served with me since most officers who we were serving in this Army from 2001 to 2013, did. Fortunately, the Army had discovered his preferences and preferred to release him lest he brings other greater laurels to the Army that the Army does not deserve. How does one glorify Pakistan by going out of the way to deny facts as they were and letting down your own men and officers by giving opinions that are totally out of sync with reality?
I have covered this 40mins show in 4 parts, each of 10mins...
Part 1. Before responding to Arshad Sherif’s programme I dare to clarify Gen Tariq’s intro and biography on Wikipedia where he uncovers and publicized himself as “War Hero”!?!?
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: I totally agree with the author that I am not a war hero. I have never in my life claimed to be a war hero at any single occasion. Others have said it, very wrongly but I cannot go around insisting that they don’t. That’s how it is, regardless of what I may say or what this author may think. Reputation, probably what the author is unfamiliar with, is a product of what others think of you and never what you may think of yourself.
As much as I know the last declared war we fought was of 1971 against India and later a limited skirmish occurred in Kargil in 1999. Gen Tariq, from 55 Long Course, was commissioned in 1977, much after December, 1971. Hence I question his dubious version to pronounce himself as War Hero.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN:I am on record for having said that no one can claim he has won a war in his own country. (https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/gen-r-tariq-khan-interview.405099//). But just in case this author is interested, and apparently, he is, since he took the trouble to watch my interview and divide it into four parts and analyse it to the best of his capacity.
I was awarded the Legion of Merit, The Liberation of Kuwait and the Defence of Saudi Arabia in the field at three different occasions. The author needs to grow out of his little hole and see that there is world around us. Some of us have had an opportunity to represent our country with pride and honour in many parts of the world. However, not withstanding, what the author may call it, I have been in 52 Kinetic operations of which records exist and am proud of glorifying my country by such means rather than by banging a keyboard in a dark corner hoping that this was my moment and it had finally arrived!
To me there was and will be a War only against India. Rest all are local operations, may call it insurgency or clearance effort.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: I can only hope that we could be privileged to hear the account of the author’s experiences of the wars that he fought or the insurgencies he resisted. We are now confronted with a dilemma of defining war only as the author wants to. With delusions of his limited capacity, he has anointed himself as the authority on warfare – his word is what matters. He predicts with solemn commitment that India and only India is where war may break out. I would love to hear his definition of war; it would be interesting at the least.
Some of my serious observations tantamount to concerns are:
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN:The author observes – he does it from a distance with a studious concentration but all in hindsight and now when the crisis is over, he shows concern. Here is that stout heart who ignores all those young men who walked the valley of death so that little fairies like him can now assault the social media with a smirk and a sneer; trying to say they could do it better and that they know better.
1. Gen Tariq opens up with a weird statement that Army was suddenly caught up in a war for Pakistan’s Survival! As if when he took Command of 14 Division or FC KP, KPK and FATA were all subjugated by TTP under Baitullah and HakimUllah…
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: Where did the author get the idea that I said we were suddenly caught up in a war? (PAKISTAN MOST TEROR HIT NATION) We were in a conflict even before 9/11 with the Mehsud tribesmen entering into the settled areas up to D I Khan. As I had alluded to, the government was conspicuous in its absence. The MMA government deliberately looked the other way and aggravated the situation. 9 Division and 7 Division were already deployed since 2001 and 11 Corps was fully involved. 14 Division and 17 Division were ordered to move in to the area in 2007 to reinforce 11 Corps. Later 23 Division and 19 Division also went in. The SSG Division too was asked to operate in Peochar Swat. The author makes light of this as if everything was being well managed. The writ of the government was totally eroded in the FATA regions. Arab Spring was at its heights, Libya went down, Egypt collapsed, Iraq was invaded, Afghanistan occupied, Syria barely survived. Yet, our very own self acclaimed intellect who has no idea of what was going on, decides that his word matters and his only. According to him there was no crisis!!! That we survived the moment because of divinity and fate alone that there were no mere mortals, some who sacrificed themselves and others who lived to tell the tale. No only he knows – while he bravely bangs his keyboard for the glory of Pakistan.
2. He claims that then Indus Highway was choked and completely closed for any movement. In the wake of TTP threat Peshawar Administration was moved to Abbottabad. Peshawar Airport was inoperative with all flights banned. You couldn’t enter Mohmand Agency less by air through Chopper. In Bajaur Agency, where all was taken over by TTP, Afghanistan’s flag hoisted where even Revenue was controlled by an Afghan Commander from Kunar. Through his high-flown and overblown grandiose he claims that it was he who reversed the whole scene through his tactful strategy…
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: Read the news about the Indus highway from 2007 to 2012. Its all in print. Here are some links that may help: (https://tribune.com.pk/story/111028/twin-suicide-attacks-kohat-tunnel-re-opens- following-blast, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/12/taliban_consolidate.php).
So in case the author was living on a different planet, he should have known what everybody else knows. The airport was shut down everyone knows about it that PIA did not fly to Peshawar in those days. (PESHAWAR AIRPORT CLOSED AFTER TERROR THREAT).
I don’t understand, what is he trying to say, that this was not how it was? Of course, Bajaur was under an Afghan Commander Wali Muhammed. I never said he was in Kunar. He was very much in Bajaur. We even have documents related to the economy then. I would refer the author to the PA then, Shafirullah Wazir, for his education on the matter. Yes, the government was contemplating shifting to Abbottabad, the CM then was Hoti of the ANP. We prevailed in convincing them to stay. Reference Owias Ghani, the Governor of KPK then. Nowhere, have I ever claimed that my schemes worked or I had grandiose plans. The author’s imagination is working overtime. I have dedicated my book, not yet published, the FATA Chronicles, to junior officers since it was a junior officer’s conflict. Tactical battles led to strategic gains or losses. If anyone was responsible for reversing things, it was the junior officers, company commanders, troop leaders and platoon commanders.
This is totally ridiculous and simply indigestible. Personally I testify that I had been visiting Bajaur during 2008 and 2009, every time through Mohmand and Nawagai. There was fear of unknown but the roads were never bounded for commoners. Molvi Faqir Muhammad was heard to be TTP’s Commander but never did he once appear in the Public as contrary HakimUllah would do in Orakzai and Kurram.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: It is funny how we never ran into each other on the road at Mohmand-Nawagai-Khar in 2008. 34 Baluch did not see any casual traffic there, nor did 7 Sind just as 25 Punjab did not. The entire 26 Brigade never ran into casual vehicle traffic in 2008 to 2009 and the odd car that was allowed after permission from the Mohmmand Scouts did not ever register any person who could have been the author. Nothing travelled casually through Tor Bander or Loisam etc. Nor did Bajaur Scouts see anything like that. It appears someone is not telling it as it was or maybe the author was invisible.
His statement is repellent if not obnoxious which demoralizes our valiant struggle against TTP then.
Indus Highway did not stop ploughing vehicles for a single day. What sort of concocted version did he come up with? I bet if he can quote any single day where route ban was announced.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: It looks like the author would prefer that his version be the only version which by implication means would raise the moral of our troops, only to clear the roads for him, that he says he drove on. The reality appears to repel him. He mentions ‘our’ valiant struggle with such vigour and commitment as if to say he too was included in that ‘our’. (BATTLE OF BAJAUR)
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: I don’t know what he means by ploughing vehicles. The rest of us mortals plough fields for agriculture. I am now reduced to entertaining this fairy by giving him dates of when events took place. Read the papers of the time in case you were not around. Look up the links already pasted above.
3. Look at him, coming up with four foolish if not futile factors.
a. Do you own the Roads?
b. Is your Boundary secure?
c. Are you popular among the people?
d. Does the government writ exist?
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: This was my measure of success. It was based on my experience and understanding and it worked for me and my men and officers. The author having called me foolish obviously considers himself better equipped intellectually and as such has a better measure of operational success that he managed to accumulate in his uneventful 13 years of service. I would love to hear what he would propose, that is if he can propose anything instead of just raving and ranting. Ofcourse, his measure of success may not relate to combat or conflict which he is not familiar with but then that is another matter. I would still like to hear or read about it.
He comes up with all negativity declaring as if there was no writ of the state; the PA offices were shut, public opinion about Army was at its lowest and we couldn’t protect militant incursions from across the Durand Line.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: I never said the PA’s offices were shut. I also never said that the public opinion was against the Army. I did mention that government offices were dysfunctional. This was because the government was missing and the PAs were on their own. Army was not on the border. It was the FC manning the border till 2005/6. Most militants were within local areas. Movement across the Durand line was free for all in North Waziristan, Mohmand, Bajaur and Dir. How does one think the TTP settled in Kunar in Afghanistan after being defeated here? This movement is still there to some extent despite the fencing.
Bloody sweeping statement. Ask him which PA did not sit in his office for a single day? Were ever their offices taken-over by TTP? How many khasadars died as a result of counter actions against TTP to thwart their encroachment? All bulshit. The PAs didn’t give up for a single day and never did any PA fall casualty to TTP’s barbaric exploits.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: Like I said most PAs remained in their areas. They just did not have the wherewithal to function and had lost the writ. It’s a bloody sweeping statement but of course he would know the details. I would request the author talk to the commissioner Peshawar, Riaz Mehsud, Shafirullah Wazir and Amjid Ali Khan, principle secretary to the CM KPK, who were some of the many PAs during my time. They may educate him about the reality of the situation then. There was no case of Khasadars attacking TTP. The author must be joking. Khasadars were taken out like chickens by the TTP which is why the Army had to move in, in the first place. What a ridiculous thought. After clearing his head, he should avoid making such sweeping statements himself. The author now chooses to say the TTP had barbaric exploits when earlier there appears to be no cause for concern. Despite this barbaric threat he was found roaming around the roads in the heat, if it all, central to the battle zones with total freedom and liberty. A bit of a contradiction and even greater exaggeration.
To his bad luck one of my course mates and his native, Sher Alam Mehsud was PA Orakzai, later transferred to Kurram in the exact times when Gen Sb claims their eviction.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: I know Sher Alam Mehsud, we meet often and was a great admirer of his father, General Alam Jan Mehsud. I knew about his location and we were in communication at the time as well. What has his movement from Orakzai to Kurram proven anything related to my luck? Superficial piece of information, saying something like ‘the sky is blue, that’s why you are late.’ Silly argument and childish at best.
4. Laughable is his unthinking and ludicrous flaw where he comments that Baitullah Mehsud was Commander of TTP in 2002. For his weak records – Baitullah stepped in 2006 when Abdullah Mehsud was assassinated in a raid. In 2002 all was calm along Durand Line and it was in 2004 when Nek Muhammad appeared on the scene in SraRogha.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: I never said he was the commander in 2002. I said he was contacted by Tahir Yuldoshev. (ISLAMIC MOVEMENT OF UZEBEKISTAN- IMU) They started their alliance at that time. Going through the entire chronology explaining Nek Muhammed or Abdullah Mehsud was neither the purpose of the talk nor was there time for such details to be given when the focus was not on the history of TTP. But I am amazed that the author thinks I would not know this and that he has surprised us with his unlimited knowledge on the subject.
5. Horrible or call it ruinous if not calamitous when Gen Tariq brings in fifty thousands Tajiks into Pakistan, declaring FATA as safe heaven for them. Fifty thousand is a huge figure. As I know even at the zenith of TTP terrorizing times their number didnt exceed five thousands. Bear in mind that TTP were no one else but Mehsuds, Wazir, Orakzai, Mohmand in addition to the local sub tribles who augmented their strength manifold.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: English does not appear to be the author’s forte. He has started using words in his enthusiasm that don’t make sense. He means haven and types heaven but excitement does that to one. Horrible, ruinous, calamitous? There are official records from which I am quoting whereas the author is giving his own assessment which is based on nothing. (THE DEATH KNELL FOR FOREIGN FIGHTERS IN PAKISTAN. / TERRORISM AND TRANSNATIONAL GROUPS IN PAKISTAN) I do not understand what his assessment is based on. He was neither involved in the conflict, nor remotely connected to it and the only relevance he had to it is living through the fruits of peace he is enjoying today which was brought about by others – the very narrative which he is challenging now.
So where did this 50k figure come into? Which specific Tribal area did they base at? How come that among fifty thousand we couldn’t gun down even hundred to unearth their inhuman motive. Does this even make least sense?
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: Records, my friend. Only 2000 were killed in Bajaur alone and accounted for.
6. He confirms that this figure, 50k, were present in Waziristan since 2002, where Wazir Tribe outrightly opposed their anti-state exertion.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: The number built up since 2002 and did not exist suddenly. Yes, the Wazir tribe had a conflict with the Mehsuds specially in and around Wana for the reasons I explained. Records. Read the links attached.
If I may simply ask this Napoleon, where then were our brave forces? Where was our MI and ISI whose primary role is to guard our borders. How did they let in a 2 division equal force of aliens through narrow durand line strip, all unseen. Does this make little sense to you? Not to me by any chance….!
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: He wishes to ask me about ISI and MI and addresses me as Napoleon but I suppose it’s better than being addressed as a fairy. First it is not the ISI or the MI’s job to guard the border. Where did he get this little nugget from? However, I have always said our intelligence agencies remained woefully missing in action in this conflict. Pakistan was confronted with a huge crisis which was mainly the product of intelligence failure. They failed to ever provide actionable information. When spaces were cleared by the field army, intelligence operators entered the battle zones but to only negotiate with the militants. They were actually more concerned with rooting out people from the rank and file of the dubious nature that the author displayed while in service at the cost of operational intelligence. His reference to the Durand Line as a narrow corridor is amazing. The Durand Line is a line not a defile so how is the author confusing it with some narrow feature. Lines are lines. He may want to see the US reports on cross border movement since he does not trust ours in any case. I recommend Long War Journal for his reading.
7. Gen Sb says that BaithUllah Mehsud declared was against Pak Army on 1 Jan 2008. To him this was an all-out war. I know the details – why and under what conditions did he declare war against Pak Army but I will leave it to Gen Sb to elaborate that or for you to turn back the pages and read his reasons in a written form. His statements then were very clear and objective. Gen Tariq should have been an impartial Military History carrier to simply say the truth. But he dare not because all he wants is to eulogise himself through his cheap narration.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: What were these details? Love to hear of them. By implication, the author is suggesting that there are circumstances and justification where war can be declared against the State. So much for the glorification of Pakistan. The Mehsuds were continually threatening the settled areas, harbouring foreigners and violating the Jirga Laws. They were subjected to FCR 22 and Baitullah Mehsud declared war. If there is something else to this, I would request the author to educate us.
8. Gen Tariq, not knowing that history doesn’t repeat itself always, makes up that in 2007 it was alone his 14 division that crossed over to Waziristan unhindered and uninjured, whereas 17 Division had to pay a heavy price in Swat. Oh Sir, have a heart. Did you really forget that in September 2007 one of your units got entangled in the South and was held hostage by TTP while on their move from Jandola to Wanna. Sir, Jhoot banda aisa bole k wo nazar na aye. This was televised by international media then and an idiot named Carlotta Gall wrote a detailed article in New York Times, dated 4 September 2007.
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: Author wants to throw in an odd cliché incorrectly at that, ‘history does not repeat itself’ in fact it does. What relevance does this have with what he wants to say? Since the author appears confused about many things, he does not know that the unit that was captured was 7 Baluch of 9 Division and not 14 Division. One of the reasons for 14 Division being inducted. Besides, a whole battalion being captured, by according to him, by a handful of militants? Kind of contradicts his earlier version.
Sir, someone so rightly said… I lie to myself all the time, but I never believe Me… Continued…. Farooq Malik Bangash, Naryab
LT GEN (RETD) TARIQ KHAN: I have failed to understand what this man, if that is what he calls himself, wants to say. Does he simply want to contradict my interview for the sake of it, or does he want to say there was no conflict at all and that all our successes were an exaggeration or that we were incompetent. I failed to understand what was all the rant and raving about – for the glory of Pakistan? I would just like to tell this troubled man, that I live in Tank, South Waziristan and if he really has any concerns about the FATA conflict and wants to clarify his position or even mine, he is most welcome to come down and spend a day or two with us as our guest. I promise him a good time and an informative education – he may even discover the grounds for his claim to fame that he is in desperate search of.