Farhat Taj represents a view that is considered quite unpopular in Pakistan. Even if we do not agree with some of the points she frequently raises, the following is an important read to appreciate the complexities of Pakhtun idenity, the Taliban phenomenon, Taliban sympathizers in Pakistan, and all these factors are currently interacting within the Federation of Pakistan (AZW)
By Farhat Taj
Hate for the US is the problem of Imran Khan or his anti-Pakhtun allies. It is not the problem of the people of FATA. Their problem is occupation of their land by the international jihadi gangs. There are clear signs that the people of FATA are cooperating with the Americans in liberating their land from the jihadi occupation
This is in response to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s recent declaration that he is ready to mediate and start negotiations with the Taliban to secure a peace agreement if the government is willing to guarantee that it would not scrap the peace deal with them under US pressure. He made this offer in an interview with Dr Moeed Pirzada on a private TV channel. By now Imran Khan stands fully exposed that he is one of the forces of darkness — the jihadi generals like Hamid Gul, the Jamaat-e-Islami and other pan-Islamists like the Deobandis, neo-Wahabis and Akhwan ideologues. Together they have given the Taliban identity to the Pakhtun and caused massacre of over three million of them on both sides of the Durand Line. They continue to destroy the Pakhtun for a great game against India and in the name of global Islamism. It is, however, the duty of all educated Pakhtuns to challenge the bizarre fabrications that Imran Khan attributed to the people of FATA to justify his offer.
Imran Khan said one of the Taliban groups is made of tribesmen who hate the US and attack the state and society in Pakistan because they see the country in alliance with the US. This is a bizarre fantasy of Imran Khan having nothing to do with tribesmen in FATA. There are no tribesmen who are killing innocent civilians and security forces due to anti-US sentiment. The tribesmen who have joined the Taliban groups are seen as criminals by their fellow tribesmen. The tribesmen who have joined the ranks of different Taliban groups are lost to the global jihadi ideology of the al Qaeda and stand stripped of Pakhtunwali. They are no more Pakhtun! They themselves have given up their Pakhtun identity. They claim to fight for global Islam that disrespects ethnic sensitivities.
The militants, in Imran Khan’s own words in the interview, are 15,000. Clearly not all of them are tribesmen. They include the Punjabi Taliban and foreign terrorists. There are no signs that these 15,000 or so terrorists are backed by tribal society. There has never been any grand tribal jirga in any tribal area that backed the terrorists, local or foreign. The Taliban groups in FATA are Hafiz Gul Abrader Groups, Haqqani Group, Mullah Nazeer Group, Turkistan Brittani Group, Tariq Afridi Group, Mangal Bagh Group, and Maulvi Omar Group. These terrorist groups are killing indiscriminately inside and beyond FATA. None of them had ever been backed by tribal jirgas. In fact, some of them have banned jirgas and termed them as ‘un-Islamic’ institutions. These groups have to be crushed for peace in Pakhtunkhwa and wider Pakistan. Anyone seeking dialogue with such groups is the enemy of the Pakhtun and Pakistan.
Hate for the US is the problem of Imran Khan or his anti-Pakhtun allies. It is not the problem of the people of FATA. Their problem is occupation of their land by the international jihadi gangs. There are clear signs that the people of FATA are cooperating with the Americans in liberating their land from the jihadi occupation. The drone strikes could not have been successful in killing so many al Qaeda and Taliban leaders without the help of the people of Waziristan on the ground.
Moreover, the Taliban kill people every single day in Waziristan on suspicion of spying for the US. They think that with terror they can deter the people of Waziristan from coordinating with the Americans. This has not been successful so far. Why is Imran Khan ever so silent over the daily slaughter of innocent people of Waziristan on charges of spying for the US? Are they not tribesmen and women and even human beings?
The most outrageous statement he made is that the assassinated tribal leadership in Waziristan was pro-US. The leadership has been eliminated by the Taliban with state collusion according to the families of the assassinated people. I challenge Imran Khan to prove that even a single person among the assassinated 600-plus tribal leaders, religious scholars, teachers, doctors, etc., was pro-US! Were respectable tribal elders like Shah Alam Wazir, Khandan Mehsud, Mirza Alam Mehsud, Mohammad Nawaz Mehsud, and Farooq Wazir pro-US? The Taliban beheaded Mufti Sibghatullah and killed Maulana Mohammad Hussain, Imam of Godam Mosque, Tank. Does Imran Khan believe that those religious scholars were also pro-US? Imran Khan must tender an unconditional apology to the people of Waziristan, especially to the family of the assassinated people for making this bizarre statement.
Exploiting the infamous anti-Indian stance, he argues that the government of Pakistan is pleasing India by making the soldiers of the Pakistan Army fight with the Taliban. This is the interpretation of the pro-jihadi forces in Pakistan. It is not the view of the people of FATA. This war is not about India or the US. It is about us — the citizens of Pakistan, whose lives are disrupted by the terrorists who are hell bent upon subjugating us to their version of shariah. The jihadi pursuit of our state created these terrorists and it is now the duty of the state to eliminate them if Pakistan has to survive as a modern democratic state.
Both the PPP and the ANP have lost near and dear ones in terrorist acts of the Taliban. They must continue the fight against the Taliban and ignore the offer of Imran Khan, who is in any case not a neutral party but one of the pro-Taliban forces. In this regard I wish to refer to one of the points of the joint declaration of a grand jirga of all democratic political parties, intelligentsia and civil society organisations held in Peshawar on December 12-13, 2009. The declaration says, “All those political or non-political forces that defend the Taliban and Talibanisation in Pakistan in one way or the other like the Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Tehreek-e-Insaf and other outfits are considered anti-Pakistan, anti-people and anti-Pakhtun by the people of Pakhtunkhwa.”
The Pakistan Army must continue fighting the Taliban until their complete elimination. The military establishment must know that lack of protection of the state from the Taliban atrocities has already thrown the people of Waziristan into cooperation with the US in terms of spying for the drone attacks on the terrorists occupying the area. A time may not be far when the rest of Pakhtunkhwa will be cooperating with the US. What would become of the federation of Pakistan in such a situation? Up until now most Pakhtuns are loyal to the federation of Pakistan, but this loyalty is definitely not limitless and requires that the state must protect them and their way of life. By eliminating the Taliban, the army must prove that it stands with the Pakhtun who suffer under the Taliban. In the long run, this may be important for a constant inflow of Pakhtun loyalty with the state of Pakistan.
The writer is a research fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, University of Oslo and a member of Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy