On January 16th, a bullet-ridden body was found in Karachi. It was the body of Naseemullah Mahsood, also known as Naqeebullah Mahsood, who was killed by police in an ‘encounter’. He hailed from South Waziristan and came Karachi in 2008 in the wake of military operation in his hometown. He owned a clothing shop and was fond of modelling. On January 9, Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) picked him up from Sohrab Goth and threw his body along with a gun to portray this event as ‘an encounter of a militant’. Now Rao Anwar has issued a paper claiming it as ‘evidence’ against Naqeebullah which is almost unverifiable. Anwar accused the slain youngster of having links to TTP and claimed he took weapon/physical training in Meeran Shah. Anyone who knows little about notorious Anwar could guess that his success is solely based on his passé-style fake encounters. Moreover, it is not the first time that Pashtuns have become victim of state oppression. My emphasis is, this killing is a result of a specific discourse against Pashtuns which Pakistan, first, had adopted from its British coloniser, and then advanced it during US-led war on terror (WoT). The narrative of WoT is not as simple as imperial powers want us to understand. TalalAsad, in his book On Suicide Bombing, explains the discourse of terrorism as ‘fight of civilisations [western/liberal] against the uncivilised [non-western/religious]’. William Cavanaugh, in his book The Myth of Religious Violence, argues that the myth of religious violence was and is used to draw a line between rational West and irrational rest, modern versus un-modern, peaceful versus violent and control versus uncontrolled violence. Pashtuns have been discriminated against because of systematic racial profiling. This was seen last year when the Punjab police was issued instructions to keep an eye on Pashtun and Afghan street vendors The discourse of WoT creates an Other and then dehumanises it which makes any inhumane act justifiable under the guise of ‘national security’. Asad provides an interesting explanation on legitimacy of violence by comparing soldiers and terrorists. He argues that both have similar functions and way of performing duties but the only difference – which makes it legitimate – is that the former is protecting the nation from ‘evil’. In our case, in post-9/11 era, we are one of the few unfortunate nations who made an enemy within its own population and made the Pashtun community feel unwanted. Although Pakistan was born with an ‘enemy’ (India) which helped it to justify all its shenanigans, the racial profiling of Pashtuns had existed before partition. Elizabeth Kolsky investigates emergence of the term ‘fanaticism’ during British Empire. In 1867, Punjab Murderous Outrages Act, British legally categorised Pashtuns and Afghans as ‘fanatics’, and defined them as ‘harsh’ existing in ‘frozen time’ and presented an ethnographic discourse which labels Pashtun as those who take revenge to satisfy their honour. American has been conducting drone strikes in northern parts and thousands of innocent Pashtun civilians have been killed. But Pakistan (state) and especially people have not raised voice (exceptions are always there) because there is a perception that drones only kill terrorists. Similarly, the Pakistani military has been launching different military operations against ‘terrorists’ and during those operations, it has killed hundreds of its own civilians. But there is little challenge to military actions because of the prevailing narrative of ‘evil’ which is encapsulated in the discourse of terrorism. We started seeing all Pashtuns as suspects. In 2008, Punjab government refused to set up IDPs camps in Punjab. Sindh government also showed its disapproval to host IDPs. I was in Karachi and I remember the city’s biggest party literally campaigned against IDPs and argued that under the guise of IDPs, ‘terrorists’ would enter in our city. In 2014, Sindh government along with the then corps commander Karachi decided that they won’t allow IDPs without proper scrutiny. The meeting concluded that IDPs would be allowed ‘when they satisfied the authorities about the purpose of their visit’. It seems there was an intra-immigration office only for Pashtuns. What Pakistani state (to be specific ISPR) did in this so-called WoT is, it has produced an image of evil who wears Pashtun attire as most of TTP commanders hail from northern areas. Remember after the attack on APS in 2015, Pakistani army launched a war song Bara Dushman Bana Phirta Hai in which militants (wearing tribal attire) attacked school and killed 140 children? As a result of systematic framing of evil, Pashtuns were discriminated and became victim of racial profiling which was seen last year when Punjab police issued instructions to keep an eye on Pashtun/Afghan street vendors. The most horrifying element of this WoT is that it has diagnosed terrorism as incurable cancer which could (only) be dealt through surgery i.e. removing affected area from the body. This mindset, unfortunately, also prevails in our liberal elite who even support the idea of ‘collateral damage’ in the WoT for cancer’s cure. Naqeebullah is not alone; there are hundreds of him who have been killed so far during different unending military operations in FATA. It was his luck that he was living in Karachi and digitally connected which helped make his extrajudicial murder, at least, a piece of news. But who would demand justice for those who were just killed on mere suspicion of ‘terrorism’ in FATA during carpet bombings? In 2012, Amnesty International issued a report, The Hands of Cruelty, which alleged military ‘using new broad security laws and a harsh colonial-era penal system to commit violations with impunity’. It would be a miracle if Anwar is charged. But it’s not just about Rao Anwar’s transgression, it’s about all those Naqeebullahs who will continue to be victimised and stigmatised by the state because of its ethnic bias towards the Pashtun community The writer is a Chevening and SOAS alumni. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org He tweets @jafferamirza Published in Daily Times, January 20th 2018.