Pakistan’s militant Taliban uprising | By Haya Fatima Sehgal

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Pakistan’s militant Taliban uprising

ONCE again Pakistan seems to find itself in a severe quandary having to lie in bed with the most facetious of all villains – the Taliban.

Commonly under the banner of Islamic Jihadist terrorist groups, they have siphoned themselves into many different sub-tribes.

Amidst the chaos, post 9/11, there was a large majority of Taliban sympathizers and supporters from Pakistan; one being the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The recent end of the ceasefire from TTP should not be a surprise to anybody.

This was expected and will be a constant as long as the Taliban remain in power in Afghanistan and gather support from offshoot branches throughout world.

Last year, on the fall of Kabul to the dissidents, the sentiments of a few had miscalculated, saying: “Taliban are looking towards change”.

Today, reality sinks in as TTP resurfaces, attacking targets. The Taliban are well known for their brutal treatment of women and girls.

Over 465 days of their present rule, they have shown nothing but a complete shutdown of women’s rights all over, including their right to education.

The United Nations reports that Afghan women are committing suicide at a rate of one or two every day due to their exclusion and systematic oppression.

It is a humanitarian crisis. The tenets of faith these people are following is not Islam as it is a religion of peace and social justice is its core principle.

Theocratic regime in Afghanistan and its self-concocted moral policing include public lashings, stoning, honour killings – which is now indigenous to the culture.

This is certainly not any aspect of Islam. Be it ‘TTP, Daesh-Khorasan’ or ISIS’, whatever they call themselves, their agenda is the same: the destruction of any civilized society.

Pakistan still believes in dialogue and negotiations. However it is highly unlikely that any of the militant Taliban want this from their side.

Pakistan is stuck with Afghanistan as a neighbour, which makes it incumbent for every government to reach a peace deal for the sake of regional security.

One highly respects any politician’s effort to engage the Afghan Taliban to establish diplomatic relations.

A great effort by the current government, despite the fact that Afghan Taliban have not even accepted the legitimacy of the ‘Durand Line’ — they are still laying claim on Pakistani soil.

An integrated civil-military strategy for the Taliban would always be a prerequisite for a long-term relationship.

Pakistan defence forces’ watchful eye should be on all terror groups on its soil which have any linkages.

Extremist groups are nobody’s allies. They feel no compassion towards Pakistanis and they only want the citizens as what they perceive as ‘human fodder’ – to be utilized for serving their own greater agenda.

Pakistani culture was deeply impacted during the 70’s with a dictatorial version of Islam being inculcated into its fabric.

We are still reaping the negative externalities of that era. Recreating the ‘Ummah’ or a ‘Riyasat’ here has been one of the greatest follies perceived by the Mullahs, and perhaps even the previous governance.

The State will not be able to sustain nor curtail any extremist values; should they be fostered stemming from ignorance in the society.

A pushback on the onset of any form of radicalization should be combated with the establishment of a sound educational system.

Starting from accelerating educational programs and a let-go to revive what is perceived as ‘Islamic ruling. ’ replacing it with a modern day syllabi in schools thus empowering the youth.

Simultaneously, Pakistan will need to be fully prepared to initiate more operations such as the renowned ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ followed by ‘Radd-ul-Fasaad’, which almost obliterated the conflict in areas of Pakistan during the unrest.

Miscreants creating strife within Pakistan must be dealt with on an emergency footing. Force is the only language which militant extremist groups understand.

There should never be any negotiation with these people. Bitter experience and prior knowledge points towards caution. Somewhere down the line, they will betray whatever promises they make.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.