The cowardly attack on a teenage schoolgirl is shocking. But it should not be surprising. The Taliban have a long track record in both Afghanistan and Pakistan of attacking anyone, regardless of age and gender, who disagrees with their goals or tactics. They have a record of using extreme violence to silence those who dare to criticize them. The Taliban have repeatedly said that do not believe in constitutional democracy, political processes and elections.
With the exception of some ANP, MQM and PPP leaders, the rest of the political leadership in Pakistan has failed to rise to the occasion. Here are some recent cowardly statements on the subject of Taliban militancy by PTI and PML(N) leaders:
“Who will save my party workers if I sit here and give big statements against the Taliban.” PTI Chief Imran Khan
"I will support military operation (against the Taliban) if you can guarantee peace after it." PTI Chief Imran Khan
“Gen. Musharraf planned a bloodbath of innocent Muslims at the behest of others only to prolong his rule, but we in the PML-N opposed his policies and rejected dictation from abroad. If the Taliban are also fighting for the same cause then they should not carry out acts of terror in Punjab.” PML (N) Leader Shahbaz Sharif
Pakistan's coward politicians need to draw some inspiration from brave little Malala Yousufzai. The nation desperately needs courageous leaders at this moment in history. Pakistan's leaders, particularly those in the Opposition, are failing the basic test of leadership. They are paralyzed by the fear of the militants. They are begging the Taliban to spare them. They are unwilling to take any risks and demanding impossible guarantees of peace that no one can provide. This is a recipe for inaction in the face of the Taliban onslaught on innocent civilians.
Some, especially those in the politico-religious leadership, are promoting confusion to distract the people from the real threat Pakistan faces today. Samia Qazi, the daughter of Jamate-Islami leader Qazi Husain Ahmed, is orchestrating a social media and email campaign against 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai to tarnish her image by attacking the victim to deflect attention from the TTP's crimes. Qazi and her supporters are being deliberately disingenuous by claiming sympathy for Malala while at the same time they engage in a smear campaign against her to paint her as an American agent.
In a picture first tweeted by Samia Qazi and posted on social media sites, she claims that Malala is meeting American generals. In fact, there is no American general in it. It is actually a still frame from a documentary made by the New York Times, which specifies the footage is from a simple meeting with late Richard Holbrook, US diplomatic representative to the region in 2009, during which Malala asked the US for help in girls’ education in Pakistan. Samia Qazi should remember that, by her logic, her brother, Asif Luqman Qazi, can also be found guilty by association because he must have met many Americans while attending Boston University in the United States.
Those who refuse to speak out against the Taliban out of fear or sympathy must remember this: If the Taliban succeed in acquiring power in Pakistan, they will not spare them because none of them will measure up to Taliban's expectations of a "good" Muslim.
Samia Qazi will be targeted by the Taliban because they will find her too well-educated and too outspoken for a woman. Asif Qazi will be considered by them as guilty of associating with Americans while in Boston. Imran Khan will face the Taliban's wrath for his past transgressions of engaging in alleged pre-marital sex and for marrying a Jewish woman. The Sharif brothers will be unacceptable to them because they have no beards. Those in the media will be targeted for exercising their right to criticize them.
The Taliban will implement draconian laws in the guise of their extreme version of Sharia and enforce such laws with brutal religious police. They will force all men to grow long beards and force burqa on all women. They will ban women's education and shut girls' schools. They will ban television as they did in Afghanistan when they ruled it. In short, the Taliban will find reasons to persecute all non-Taliban just as they did in Afghanistan in 1990s before the post-911 US invasion of Afghanistan.
Let there be no mistake: The phenomenon of Taliban is a Fitna not unlike the 11th century Isma'ili shia Hashasheen (Assassins) whom Marco Polo depicted as trained killers responsible for the systematic elimination of fellow Muslims, mostly Sunnis, who disagreed with them.
Na haq kai liye uththe to shamshir bhi fitna hai
Shamsheer hi kiya nara-e-takbeer bhi fitna hai
To prevent the Taliban from achieving their goals of dominance in Pakistan, the country needs a comprehensive strategy with both political and military components. Such a strategy must be regional to deal with the possibility of the Taliban crossing the Durand line for safe havens as part of their defense. It must begin with building broad popular support, if not consensus, to defeat the Taliban. It must include an effective education campaign led by the politicians and civil society as well as the mass media to end all confusion about the serious threat posed in Pakistan by all factions of the Taliban who all share similar goals of taking control of the country to impose their dark vision in the name of Islam. It must also include a decisive force component to militarily defeat the hard core leadership of the Taliban.
Here's a recent video discussion on the subject:
Pak Taliban Killing Spree Continues
Appeasement in Swat
Pakistan's Growing Insurgency
Rising Intolerance in Pakistan
Fighting Agents of Intolerance in Pakistan
Muslim Scholars Must Fight Hate in Pakistan
South Asian Christians Celebrate Christmas in Fear
Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision
Pakistan Must Defeat Agents of Intolerance
Celebrating Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Birthday