What is the real, existential cause for
concern — the imagined enemy, or a real, functional terror network in the shape of the TTP?
Published in The News, October 2012
The renewed attacks of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) across the country indicate the exasperation of this anti-state network trying to re-assert its strength in the face of Pakistan Army’s operations as well as the drone strikes by the U.S., which have now turned into a major political plank for most political parties.
The illegal drone strikes have targeted Al Qaeda leadership as well as the TTP stalwarts, leading to the dispersal of militants’ leadership and the relocation of Al Qaeda, reportedly to several urban centers of Pakistan.
The ‘popular’ Imran Khan led his march to Waziristan (without being able to set foot in the tribal agency) and created a kind-of media consensus that Pakistan needed to pull out of “America’s war” and make peace with the Taliban or, more fantastically, enable the threatened tribals to take on the Taliban themselves.
This fanciful and simplistic narrative omitted a vital segment of reality: the TTP is pitted not just against the United States’ “imperial designs” — it also considers the state of Pakistan as its enemy. These Kharijites of the 21st century use religious appeal to justify and rationalise extremely violent and barbaric acts, and consider the existence of pluralism within the fold of Islam as an anathema. They consider women’s education to be un-Islamic and consider a constitutional democracy as an infidel imposition on the faithful.
Unlike other insurgent groups in Pakistan, TTP wants to demolish the state of Pakistan and its constitutional basis in line with Al Qaeda ideology. Readers doubtful of this polemic should refer to Al Zawahiri’s famous treatise called “The Morning And The Lamp”, freely available on the Internet. If they are further interested, they could refer to any bookshop where such materials are widely available. This is how we have allowed anti-state doctrines to penetrate our public life.
The most brazen act of targeting a 14-year old girl, Malala Yousafzai, immediately after Khan’s march came as a game-changer. The “public opinion” shaped by Taliban apologists faced the biggest jolt, the biggest after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in 2007. Even the conservative and religious sections of Pakistani society could not help condemn this barbarity, and for a day or two, it appeared as if there was a major consensus emerging in the country that put homegrown terrorist networks such as TTP before the imagined enemies such as India or the United States.
However, this consensus was breached by the usual suspects such as the Jamaat-e-Islami, which termed the Taliban as their brothers, obfuscating the real issue of a girl child not being allowed to go to school. The JI also went ahead and, on various social media platforms, released pictures of Malala and her father meeting the late Richard Holbrooke, thereby suggesting that Malala’s family were CIA agents and “legitimate targets” of the TTP. This came as a shocking reminder to the country on the lack of clarity and deliberate confusion spread by the apologists for brutal groups such as the Taliban. (more…)