Taliban An Ideology, Not The Force of Fighters

The Taliban, which spread a reign of terror, brutality and cruelty in Afghanistan ’til some time back, seemed inactive after the attacks by the US led forces. But within a short span of time, the Taliban has not only re-emerged as a bigger challenge for the NATO forces, it has also extended its span of influence over the whole of Pakistan.

Tehrik-e-Taliban; it is clear from this name that it is not just an organization, but in fact a movement. This is not necessary that every Taliban should have possession of arms and there should be rocket launchers on their shoulders or Kalashnikovs in their hands. Indeed the people of Taliban ideology are not only fighters; they are also present in the white collar jobs in Pakistan.

To prove this, it is necessary to mention one of the important reasons laid down by former President General Parvez Musharraf for the suspension of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Iftikhar Choudhary.

General Musharraf clearly stated that the Supreme Court was creating hurdles in the implementation of decisions. Even though many of his decisions might have been against his political opponents, but there were too many decisions which were necessary to contain terrorism in Pakistan.

It was Musharraf who carried on ‘Operation Sunrise’ in Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), which used to spread the Taliban ideology. During that operation the entire world witnessed how the people in religious costumes armed with modern weapons were in confrontation with the security forces of Pakistan.

On paper, the Lal Masjid used to function as a Madrassa and a charitable organization, but in fact it had become a shelter for the terrorists. In the same operation, people also saw how the chief of the Mosque, Abdul Aziz was trying to escape security forces by veiling himself along with a group of veiled women. But the security forces held him, while his brother was killed during the same operation.

Now Pakistan has a civilian government. Recently, the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried to hit many shots with an arrow by organizing the Long March. He demonstrated his political might to President Asif Ali Zardari, built his image in the judiciary of Pakistan and got reinstated Justice Iftikhar Choudhary along with other judges who were suspended during the Musharraf regime.

After this reinstatement, the judicial verdicts coming out now, while among them is quashing the order of disqualification of the Sharif brothers to contest elections, the other important decision is the bail of the chief of the Lal Masjid, Abdul Aziz. What view would a common and secular person have of the judiciary after this decision?

The Pakistan army, undoubtedly is fighting the Taliban on the Afpak border, but how should the protests in many cities of Pakistan against this operation, be seen. After three decades, the leaderships of both Pakistan and the United States have admitted that the CIA and the ISI had a role in the creation and strengthening of the Taliban. This is the evidence in itself that Taliban is not specific to a particular set of people or area or occupation, but it has its presence in religious places, government offices, courts, political organizations, as well as among the security forces.

Recent suicide bombings in Lahore and Peshawar were in retaliation for army operations against the Taliban in the Swat valley. Prior to this, Pakistan has faced many terror attacks.

While Benazir Bhutto died in such an attack, there were also assassination attempts on Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif. President Zardari and the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have also received life threats.

Is it possible that these inhuman powers are confined to just Afghanistan and the Swat valley, are conspiring these assassination attempts? I think not. Without local support and patronizage, such big incidents are not possible. Tehrik-e-Taliban wants to control the whole of Pakistan. For this, it is taking support of the fundamentalist religious forces. Its long term goal is to enforce Shariah law, which was some time back enforced in Swat in a pact with the Pakistan government, which later on broke down.

Presently, Pakistan is passing through a critical juncture. Pak leadership is facing many challenges ranging from the activities of the Taliban in Afghanistan to Tehrik-e-Taliban, other terrorist organizations active in Pakistan, their training camps, the ‘love’ for the Taliban among the fundamentalists and extremists in Pakistan, and besides this, the pressure from the US to give a befitting reply to these inhuman powers.

Hopefully, the war initiated between the Pak army and the Taliban will break the back of the Taliban and they would be backtracked. But while the Taliban ideology exists in different parts and different people of Pakistan, the complete end of the Taliban is impossible. Thus, both the Pakistan government and the Pakistan army need to be watchful of those white collar people who seem to be common but whose objective is just to promote the interests of the Taliban.

Tanveer Jafri is an award-winning journalist and peace activist, based in India, covering communal harmony and social activities.