By Hassan Belal Zaidi –
Munawwar, do you recall what Clemenzo once said about war? No. I don’t think I do, Shahid, no.
He said war was too important to be left to the Generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Taliban infiltration, Indian indoctrination, Afghan subversion, and the international Zionist conspiracy to sap and impurify the land of the pure.
Is everybody here?
PM Saab, the joint secretary is in Mianwali, the information secretary in Karachi, and the Vice-President is in bed with his mistress. We can establish contact with them at any time if necessary.
Right. Now, what’s going on here?
PM Saab, about 35 minutes ago, Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesperson for the reinvented Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, issued an order to the 34 female suicide bombers we keep locked up in Molvi Abdul Aziz’s basement, which were having kulfis at the time as part of a special exercise. Now, it appears that the order called for the women to attack their targets inside Lahore. The women are fully armed with ball-bearings with an active blast radius of 40 square metres, each. Now the central display of Punjab on this large screen here will indicate the position of the bombers, who are implanted with the WX-2000 tracking chip we got from Mossad. The triangles are their primary target, the squares secondary. The women will be penetrated, I mean penetrating the red zone within 25 minutes.
I find this very difficult to understand. I was under the impression that I was the only one in authority to order the use of such weapons.
That’s right sir. You are the only person authorized to do so. And, although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it’s beginning to look like Shahidullah Shahid exceeded his authority.
It certainly does. Far beyond the point I would have imagined possible.
Well, perhaps you’re forgetting the provisions of plan B, sir.
Plan B is an emergency plan in which a lower echelon TTP commander may order retaliation after a sneak attack by the army, in this case, the Tirah valley attack. You approved it, sir, for use if the normal chain of command is disrupted. You must remember. Surely, you must recall, sir, when Javed Hashmi Sb made that big hassle about our position lacking credibility. The idea was for plan B to be a sort of retaliatory safeguard. I admit the human element seems to have failed us here. But the idea was to discourage the faujis from any hope that they could knock out Lahore, and yourself, sir, as part of a general sneak attack, and escape retaliation for lack of proper command and control.
Well, I assume then that the bombers will return automatically once they realize the order was falsified.
Well, sir, I’m afraid not. You see the women were holding at their failsafe points when the go code was issued. Now, they have turned off their phones and logged out of their Twitter accounts, they do not require a second order to proceed. They will penetrate their targets and decimate them.
Then why haven’t you intercepted them?
Well, I’m afraid we’re unable to risk any interaction with the operatives. They have been trained to explode upon interception, sir.
As you may recall, sir, one of the provisions of plan B is that once the go code is received, to prevent the enemy from using our own weapons against us, the women are told to treat all other individuals as potential threats. Now, in order to prevent the enemy from issuing fake or confusing orders, the bombers are trained to ignore everything, even the call for prayer.
Then do you mean to tell me, that you will be unable to recall the bombers?
That’s about the size of it. However, we are ploughing through every other possible means to get through to them. We’ve sent carrier pigeons, cupid and Shoaib Akhtar to negotiate with them. But the pigeons are now roast quail, cupid is dead and Shoaib Akhtar has had a relapse of Genital Viral Warts.
How soon did you say the bombers would penetrate the red zone?
About 18 minutes from now, sir.
Are you in contact with Shahidullah Shahid?
Ah. No sir, no, he has sealed off North Waziristan and cut off all communications.
Where did you get all this information?
Shahid called the Party High Command shortly after he issued the go code. I have a partial transcript of that conversation if you’d like me to read it.
There’s nothing to read. This man is obviously psychotic.
Well, I’d like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in.
When you hired the man, you assured me there was no possibility of such a thing ever occurring.
Well I don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip up sir.
I want to speak to Shahidullah on the telephone, personally.
I’m afraid that’s impossible, sir.
I am becoming less and less interested in your estimates of what is possible and impossible. Are there any army units stationed anywhere near his position?
Well, I’ll just check, sir. Apparently, the SSG commando unit is stationed at Sararogha.
I want them to enter his cave, locate Shahidullah, and put him in immediate telephone contact with me.
PM Saab, if I may advise, in such situations, it is standard procedure that the cave be sealed off, and be defended by the Taliban irregulars. Any force trying to enter there would certainly encounter IEDs. If any of them were to be taken captive, they would most certainly be decapitated and their heads thrown into the local playground for the children to play football with.
With all due respect, Khawaja Sb, I think our well-trained SSGs can handle these ruffians without too much trouble.
PM Saab, there are one or two points I’d like to make, if I may.
Go ahead, Nisar Sb.
One, our hopes for recalling the bombers are quickly being reduced to zero. Two, in less than 15 minutes from now the security personnel in Lahore will be making contact with the women and they will be unable to resist their burqa-clad charms. Three, when they do, they are going to go absolutely ape, and a lot of people are going to die. Four, if prior to this time, we have done nothing further to suppress the fallout, we will suffer virtual annihilation from all our constituencies. NA-125 will revert to being a PTI stronghold and the Model Town constituency, which we have already lost to the cricket team, will be overrun by boys and girls chanting slogans against you and Maryam Bibi. Now, five, if on the other hand, we were to immediately issue a security alert, condemn the Taliban for their dastardly violation of the ceasefire and launch a coordinated attack on all their bases, we’d stand a damn good chance of catching them with their shalwars down. Hell, most of them are going to be at the TTP-PTI cricket match anyway. We could easily assign three security personnel to every target, and still have a very effective reserve force for any other contingency. Now, six, an unofficial study which we undertook of this eventuality, indicated that we would destroy 90 per cent of their suicide bombing capabilities. We would therefore prevail, and suffer only modest and acceptable civilian casualties from their remaining force which would be badly damaged and uncoordinated.
Nisar Sb, it is the avowed policy of our country never to strike first.
Well, PM Saab, I would say that Shahidullah has already invalidated that policy.
That was not an act of national policy and there are still alternatives left open to us.
PM Saab, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, the truth is not always a pleasant thing, but it is necessary now make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless, distinguishable environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a 1.7 billion people killed.
You’re talking about mass murder, Nisar.
PM Saab, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair messed up.
I will not go down in history as the greatest mass murderer since Pervez Musharraf!
Perhaps it might be better, PM Saab, if you were more concerned with the Pakistani people, than with your image in the history books.
Khawaja Sb, I think I’ve heard quite sufficient from you, thank you very much!
PM Saab, they have Fazlullah waiting upstairs.
Oh, good. Any difficulty?
They say he’s complaining that he needs to be on the radio in a few hours.
Yes, that can’t be helped. Have him brought down here straight away.
Is that the leader of the TTP you’re talking about?
Yes, it is, Khawaja Sb.
Ah, am I to understand the head of the TTP is to be admitted entrance to the War Room?
That is correct. He is here on my orders.
I don’t know exactly how to put this, sir, but are you aware of what a serious breach of security that would be? I mean… he’ll see everything. He’ll see the big board!
That is precisely the idea, Khawaja Sb. That is precisely the idea.
This article is inspired by dialogue from Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is, for all legal purposes, purely coincidental.
The writer is a journalist based in Islamabad. He tweets @mightyobvious_