Friends of the Taliban
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
As the joint session of parliament, called to create consensus on the issue of terrorism and the battle against it, continues, it seems evident the Taliban have friends in high places. The JUI-F leader has, for instance, called for the leaders of the organization to be called to brief the house on their own position. He has described their battle, once more, as one against the US. While other political groups have perhaps not taken quite so direct an approach, there is much ambiguity in the stand. The largest opposition group, the PML-N, has for instance refused to clarify quite what its position on militancy is, even while lashing out at the military briefing given to parliamentarians by army officers as ‘superficial’.
It seems quite obvious that a great deal of confusion lurks everywhere. It is impossible to believe actions that include the bombing of public places killing thousands of innocent persons over the last five years, the beheading of people accused of being spies or the bombing of schools can be condoned by responsible politicians. If they do indeed support such measures, their constituents must ask if these views indeed represent their own opinions. What seems to have happened is that terrorism continues to be seen as a battle against a foreign super power. This is the factor that is making it so hard to unite opinion and build a single front even on a basic point of agreement that militancy needs to be combated by all means possible. Small steps can help. The government needs to stop calling the conflict a ‘war on terror’. This phrase, picked up from Washington, is associated with US leaders and their allies. The militants should also not be referred to as ‘religious extremists’. There is of course nothing even remotely religious in their words or their deeds. In other words, a new approach needs to be taken to the whole issue. It seems that so far the military briefing has had only a limited impact in terms of persuading leaders to alter thinking. Nor indeed should army officers be expected to achieve this. It is up to political leaders, who will now be discussing the matter at the secret session, to thrash out the points of contention, to find a strategy that is acceptable to all, and, most importantly, to chalk out the outlines of a path that we can follow into a more stable and safer future for us and for the generations to come. (The News)