Pakistan Army, being the most powerful State institution is angry and confused to say the least, beside feeling betrayed by the group of Pashtun youth in particular who are currently leading a public protest against their Army and the State. The Pakistani Army see itself as the saviours of the Pashtun tribal belt in the country bordering Afghanistan, which was infested with terrorism. It took sacrifices of thousands of Pakistani military men, for them to have achieved a relative state of normalcy in these areas. Pakistani Army fought this "war within", sponsored by its external enemies, and won it at the heaviest cost essentially paid in blood of their martyrs. The villages and cities of Pakistan burying their soldiers and civilians in this war saw an unpreceded numbers of graves, far surpassing any war Pakistan has ever faced in its history. Resultantly, Pakistani Military and State is standing tall and claiming victory, in the first ever counter insurgency won by any Military in the modern history of the world. However, the process continues being in its culminating stages. Efforts are in hand to rehabilitate the disenfranchised and displaced Pashtun population, which got effected in this process and to reintegrate them in the social fiber of the Pakistani State. However, just like this unprecedented "war within", the problems arising out of this conflict are also unprecedented for the Pakistani Military and the State.
The Pashtun youth, believe that they have been wronged by the State and Military in number of ways. An entire generation of Pashtun youth feel disenfranchised from the Pakistani society, having faced internal displacement resulting in harsh socioeconomic situation for them, in which they were forced to grow up. The collateral damage in this "war within", has made them question their rights, which they feel are being ignored by their State. Some of the questions, which are being raised by these Pashtun rights activists are bitter realities arising out of the past policies of the Pakistani state, formulated by her Military rulers.
Gen Zia ul Haq, at the peak of the cold war, headed the formulation of the Mujahedeen to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The policy won the "Cold War" for the West, but created three generations of International Ideological Mercenaries, essentially stationed in the tribal belt on the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, these people, knew nothing else to do, but to fight for the highest bidder, which is what they did. The anti state Pakistani Taliban group the TTP, is a consequence of the same phenomenon. Once the Pakistani Military launched a mass scale operation to handle their Frankenstein's monster in these tribal areas, it was natural for the civilian population to have been displaced and suffer the consequences, which they did.
Under those circumstances, about a decade earlier, at the launch of Pakistani Military full scale counter insurgency operations, as things stood, you would often find, that if a family had three sons, one would be fighting for the Pakistani Military, second working for the State's Paramilitary and third would be in the ranks of the anti state insurgent militants. It was all about finding a job for them, being third generation fighters who were essentially illiterate but indoctrinated by the Jihad philosophy in the local education system run by the Mullahs, who became filthy rich and powerful through Saudi funding and American weapons during the Afghan Jihad, all thanks to the Zia legacy.
Pakistani Military, which was initially reluctant to launch a full scale offensive against the insurgents due to the aforesaid environments, was but forced to tackle the issue head on after losing precious lives in huge numbers at the hand of these mercenaries. Due to the same environments, the Military found it extremely hard to differentiate friends from foes and civilians from insurgents who wore no uniform or clear identity. Due to the family ties of the mercenaries with the local population, they were aided and abetted by them. The Military faced many attacks from within its ranks due to the same reasons. In an extremely difficult situation faced by the Pakistani Military, where they could not trust some of their own ranks informing their plans to their relatives fighting against them, it took a mammoth effort for them to quell this insurgency and bring back peace to the restive regions of Pakistan. However, in the process, not only the Pakistani Military faced an unprecedented loss to life and limbs in its ranks, but the Pakistani Pashtun population living in these restive regions immensely suffered as part of the 'collateral damage' in this "war within".
Although, the Pakistani State led by the Pakistan Army took mega rehabilitation measures in these effected tribal regions of the country, it would take much more than this to address the insecurities which arose out of this crisis within the young Pashtun population. In an era of free speech, the tolerance and the tact of the Pakistani State and its Army would be tested by these young Pashtun lads. They feel alienated and oppressed comparing themselves with the settled parts of the country. They are certainly being manipulated by anti establishment forces within Pakistan and anti Pakistani State foreign forces, but this is the nature of any social discord in the internet age, which is exploited by one's enemies in the 'info war era'.
The Pashtun youth are suffering from an identity crisis, which occurred due to the collateral damage arising out of policies and actions of the Pakistani State. These policies were adopted, under the leadership of the Pakistani Military rulers. The Pakistani Military, thus needs to raise their patience and positively engage with these disenfranchised youth of the Pashtun ethnicity. Standing behind the constitutional amendment to bring these tribal agencies under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani mainstream judicial system is such step in the rite direction by the Pakistan Army. Having said that, the Pakistani establishment still needs to do much more in this sphere. Labelling and dismissing these angry Pashtun lads as instigators making trouble won't work. All their legitimate demands must be met, may it be at the cost of giving up pawns like Rao Anwaar and others like him. The policies and narratives have to be evaluated by the Pakistani Establishment, and revised towards "post war era" tenure from "war era doctrines".
If the Pakistani State needs to avoid further damage to the federation from these rebels who are protesting out on the streets, they must be given their rightful political space. Mistakes made by the State must be acknowledged and compensated for. Rule of law, irrespective of the complex procedures must be accepted, enforced and respected by all the State institutions. Only civilized conduct by all parties will bring about a modern model civil society in Pakistan.