And Talibanization of our society
It is an undeniable fact that not a single Pakistani, Iraqi or Afghani participated in the dastardly attack on Twin Towers and Pentagon on 9/11. But strangely, the U.S chose to attack Afghanistan, Iraq and made Pakistan scapegoat by once again assigning it the role of frontline state in its “war on terrorism”. Consequently, Pakistan has suffered incalculable destruction of an unprecedented magnitude. Unlike the Western countries, the people and Armed Forces of Pakistan are continuously facing such terrorist attacks virtually every day in Pakistan, resulting in loss of precious lives of over 70,000 innocent civilians and sacrifices of over 8,000 lives of our brave soldiers including one Lieutenant General Mushtaq, one Major General Bilal Omer and five brigadiers. Pakistan has not suffered such a huge death toll of civilian and armed forces and destruction of its assets and financial losses in its four wars put together with India. Despite these unparallel sacrifices made by our citizens and Armed Forces, Pakistan is still being defamed as a terrorist state and the West is continuing to demand from Pakistan “to do more”. Why this most harmful perception, image and propaganda against Pakistan?
We should also realize that we are not the only neighbors of Afghanistan, which is surrounded by at least six countries. Why is it that only Pakistan is burdened with continuous presence in the past three decades of about two million Afghan refugees and has immensely suffered huge losses of all kinds on account of the first Afghan war and the present Afghan war? Why is it that no other neighboring country of Afghanistan has suffered such losses? The greater irony is that despite these sacrifices of Pakistan, it is blamed, accused and disliked both by the government and the people of Afghanistan. There must be some blunders that our rulers have committed to cause disaster for Pakistan. Similarly, there are 57 Muslim countries in the world, why are they not suffering such religious extremism, terrorism, sectarianism, bigotry, murders and mayhems of the Muslims by the Muslims in the name of Islam? Not even our former bigger part, East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, has such menace of sectarianism, hatred, intolerance or religious terrorism or the spate of fatwas of “kaafir” or “wajib-ul-qatal” from any extremist mullah there?
No doubt, the Western countries are uncharitable and utterly selfish, but we must also examine our own conduct and detrimental policies and priorities adopted by our rulers that allow foreign mercenaries, Taliban or the religious fanatics and terrorists to freely roam around and attack our military, navy and air force installations and committing all sorts of terrorism, murders and mayhem with impunity. We cannot blame any other country, but our own ruling elite and the establishment for the same.
The process of degeneration in an alarming degree of our society, its social, religious, cultural, academic institutions, political and economic, ethic, values and norms was no doubt first pursued selfishly and callously by the worst dictator Gen Zia who also deliberately introduced the “klashinkov and heroin culture”, more particularly in our academic institutions. Gen Zia also made radical changes in the syllabus and textbooks of our schools and colleges and inserted highly damaging hate material against other sects, non-Muslims and India to the detriment of the interest of Pakistan. Gen Zia also created, promoted, strengthened and armed the sectarian and ethnic terrorist forces in Pakistan.
This mission of Gen Zia was taken over and served by his successor Gen Musharraf with full commitment to the same agenda. Initially, even before the occurrence of the 9/11 tragedy, the Pakistani establishment and particularly Gen Musharraf adopted a most imprudent and counterproductive notion that “Afghanistan is the strategic depth of Pakistan”. Under this pretext, his hidden agenda was to spread Talibanization and promote religious extremism and bigotry. To serve this hidden objective Gen Musharraf extended all kinds of support and cooperation to strengthen the rule of bigoted Taliban in Afghanistan and at the same time allowed the rise of religious militancy, sectarianism and terrorism in Pakistan.
It may be recalled that on the pretext of the national interest Gen Musharraf had signed about five/six agreements with the worst militant groups of Taliban and religious extremists such as Fazal-ul-Ullah during his dictatorial rule. Even the present elected government while following the same policy of Musharraf, signed yet another agreement with Taliban in May 2008. These agreements resulted in more favors and freedom to Taliban, with no benefit to Pakistan. Perhaps, it is for this reason that till date, the government of Pakistan has not disclosed the terms and conditions of the agreements signed with Taliban. In February 2009, the government committed yet another blunder of surrendering before the demands of Sufi Mohammad, the father-in-law of Fazal-ul-Ullah. Shockingly, even our National Assembly also endorsed and supported demands of Sufi Mohammad and his brand of Shariah and Nizam-e-Adal. These unwise and detrimental decisions of both the KP and federal government naturally encouraged Sufi Mohammad in denouncing the entire constitutional setup of Pakistan including democracy, parliament and judiciary.
The catastrophic impact of all these decisions and agreements with Taliban naturally resulted in the rise of bigotry, intolerance, militancy and sectarian killings of about 302 innocent citizens in the past eight months, mostly Shia community, all over Pakistan. At the same time, Ahmedis, Christians, Hindus/Sikhs are also being harassed, victimized, forced to convert their religion without any let or hindrance. The sense of insecurity is rising among these minorities so much the so that they are persuaded to leave their places of residence for protection of their life and properties. This appalling state of affairs is tarnishing the image of both Pakistan and Islam to such an alarming degree that even the United Nation has taken notice of the same and a UN delegation is visiting Pakistan on a fact finding mission.
One cannot ignore the victimization and beating suffered by op-ed editor of The News, Mr Zainul Abedin at the hands of the religious fanatics who have threatened to kill him if he did not stop watching the TV or listening Qawwalis/music in his own house. This is obviously part and parcel of the scheme to promote Talibanization in Pakistan through intimidation and terrorism. The unrestrained and rampant killing and victimization of not only Shia Muslims and other minorities but also the repeated successful attacks of Taliban on our military installations and barbaric beheadings of soldiers appear to be a part of the scheme to Talibanize Pakistan and convert it into an extremist state.
It is high time that our civil and military establishment must radically change its policies, priorities and improve its performance for the protection of our military installations, life and property of our citizens rather than promoting and protecting Taliban and their extremist supporters. I am not prepared to believe that our Armed Forces are not competent enough to combat and defeat all brands of terrorists or religious extremists including Taliban. All that is required is drawing up the right strategy and determination to completely cut off all kinds of supplies to the terrorists in Pakistan. Whichever country supplies arms or money to the terrorists including Taliban cannot be regarded as our friend, may they be in the Arabian Peninsula or in the Western block.
The writer is a Senior Advocate Supreme Court, Former Attorney General & Federal Minister for Law, Justice, Parliamentary Affairs & Human Rights. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org