It is the first time that an Islamic, ideological state — Pakistan — is being confronted with an armed group whose ideology is based on the state religion, Islam. A nation that has been beating the drums of an ideology for the last 68 years is helpless when it comes to fabricating an ideology against the Taliban. Fabricating an ideology against a religious, armed group is a headache for the Pakistani intelligentsia.
The Taliban are lucky that Pakistan cannot label them infidels because they are militants using the banner of Islam to carry out their atrocities. Unofficial religious decrees, or fatwas, are brought against the Taliban’s attacks but the religious stance of the Taliban has not been discussed so far in the mainstream media of Pakistan. Possibly this type of debate might also raise questions against the stance of the Afghan Taliban and the armed struggle in Kashmir, hence that is why the subject is not broached.
However, on the other hand, the Pakistani media and people are no longer interested in hearing the official announcement of RAW involvement or that of ‘foreign hands’ in terrorist attacks. It becomes even more irrelevant when the targets were students at a university named after Bacha Khan, a man previously defamed as an Indian agent. Secondly, the concentration of terrorist attacks to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also raises the question of why RAW would ignore the other provinces of Pakistan.
So far, the political and religious points of view of the Taliban are not discussed openly in Pakistan and that is the reason behind why the Pakistani intelligentsia has failed to defeat the Taliban and their supporters even after launching several so-called successful military operations in the tribal areas. Even the word Taliban is not often used for the terrorists. The fear behind this lack of spirit to fight the Taliban is the presence of a soft corner for the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan. The terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban seem to have been developed to help the common Pakistani differentiate between the pro-Pakistan and anti-Pakistan Taliban. Even common Pakistanis cannot differentiate between the political and religious viewpoints of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. This confusion is due to the vague approach of the Pakistani intelligentsia about the issue of the Taliban and terrorism.
Pakistan is fighting a war against terrorism without an ideology and that is the reason behind why Pakistan has still not been able to define its goals and those of its fight. The clearance of the tribal areas from the Taliban’s grip was a hope for the Pakistan army to bring peace but the shifting of Taliban leaders to Afghanistan and the urban areas of Pakistan has shattered those dreams of the Pakistani army. Fighting the Taliban on the streets and beyond the border is a new phenomenon for the Pakistani army. The strategy for this new war has not been framed yet. Requesting the US to launch drone attacks against Mullah Fazlullah is a weak stance taken by the Pakistani army, not a fit strategy against the Taliban.
Eliminating the Taliban through military operations has failed in Pakistan because there is no ideological base of this war. The ideology of the Taliban is a deep-rooted one in Pakistani society. One of the reasons behind this failure is that there is a soft corner for religious fundamentalism in Pakistan. As long as religious fundamentalism is not targeted in Pakistan, Talibanisation will take shelter under the banner of different umbrellas. Fighting the Taliban without targeting their political and religious viewpoints is an eyewash in front of the entire nation.
Explaining new developments in the light of the Two-Nation Theory is irrelevant in the 21st century. The factor of Indian involvement will never help Pakistan to either defame the Taliban in public or win the war against them. The Pakistani army’s concept of dushman kay bachon ko purhana hay (to educate the children of the enemy) is not an ideology but political leniency. This leniency is the reflection of the soft corner we have for religious fundamentalism. Fighting terrorism with a lenient political stance is the base of military failure in the war against terrorism.
Writer: Farman Nawaz
The writer is freelance columnist. He blogs at farmannawaz.wordpress.com and can be contacted at email@example.com