It is wrong to think that all it will take for the Taliban to stop their attacks on Pakistan is the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan
And by golly are they in a raging fire, no matter what anyone says. So let us say it straight. Rather than cursing the Americans for being in Afghanistan and making us fight the war against terror, we should be grateful that they forced the Pakistani establishment, at that time under the command of the Commando, to turn on its own creation.
To prove the point let us see what would have happened if our establishment had not made a U-turn as a direct consequence of the 9/11 attacks on New York and had refused to join the Americans. Let us also suppose that the Americans would not have bombed us to smithereens (or into the Stone Age, take your pick) for fear of further destabilising Pakistan and only making their own fight in Afghanistan that much more difficult.
Would we have gone on supporting the medieval Taliban and their government as theretofore, despite the horrors they visited upon the Afghan people specially women? For one, and if I recall correctly, an edict issued by Mullah Omar was that women (doctors, nurses, teachers) could not leave their homes, i.e. could not work. Another was that women could not go to see male doctors. So what were they to do then? Die quietly?
Let’s take another tack. There is no question that, even if we had not joined them, the Americans would have assaulted Afghanistan just the way they did, first from the air, and then from the ground in coalition with the Northern Alliance to rid it of the Taliban who were, by their own admission, shielding Al Qaeda. How, pray would Pakistan have handled the fallout of that assault? How would this country have faced the influx of the Afghan Taliban escaping the massive bombardment and land assault, pursued as they would have been by American forces and air power into Pakistan?
There is no question that that mad enterprise, had it taken place, would have resulted in complete disaster for Pakistan. Which is why it defies the senses to see good people like Imran Khan go on saying ad nauseam that this is not our war. And further, that all it will take for the Taliban to stop their brutal attacks on Pakistan is the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. How wrong is that, when there is every evidence that Taliban of every hue, and yes there are Punjabi Taliban too, are after only one prize: the takeover of the Pakistani state?
The evidence of this lies in the oft-repeated Taliban mantra of pan-Islamism à la organisations like the Hizbut Tahrir; the former al-Muhajiroun now called Islam4UK (who came up with the brilliantly stupid idea of protesting the respect given to fallen British servicemen and women by the city of Wootton Bassett in their adopted country, the UK, and from which they cravenly withdrew three days later), and other such crazies.
However, just to argue the demand made by people like Imran Khan, Gen Hamid Gul, Jamaat-i-Islami ameer Munawwar Hussain (Qazi Sahib come back) & Co, what if the Americans lost their mind and did leave Afghanistan tomorrow, festering wounds and all? How in heaven’s name will we survive the whirlwind that will come sweeping in then, marrying up with the storm brewing in the southern heartland of Punjab?
Which immediately reminds me: if we do not stand up and recognise that there is a deeply rooted and most brutal Taliban movement in Punjab itself how will we ever do anything about it? Reports from Bahawalpur and Jhang and environs suggest that the madressahs there are some of the most poisonous anywhere and that the local administration is petrified of the militant clerics and often covers up for them.
Let me add as an aside that there were many credible reports from credible and good people at the time that innocent men and women in poor, beautiful, ravaged Swat were being mercilessly slaughtered, that those from Punjab were the most brutal of the slaughterers.
I am a Punjabi, so it gives me no pleasure to say that some of my compatriots are mindlessly brutal: I say this because we have begun to think that all Taliban are Pakhtun; because we look at our Pakhtun brothers with suspicion and our police invariably target those who live in Punjab whenever something untoward takes place. We must remedy that by facing up to the fact that brutes can be found in any ethnic group: Punjabi, Pakhtun, Baloch, Sindhi, Mohajir, you name it.
We must also ensure that no government figure, be it Salman Taseer or Rana Sanaullah, ever again shares a podium with a member of a banned extremist organisation (they both did). Or that any plea is made to these brutes to spare one province or another: they only understand force and it is only with force that they will be subdued.
By the by, our too-clever-by-half security establishment ought to brace itself for certain disclosures soon to be made by Pakistani-American David Headley aka Daud Gillani, who has entered a plea bargain with US authorities for a reduced sentence and is reportedly singing like a canary. Let’s see which song he sings for the Indians when they grill him on Mumbai and other such ‘operations’. He has named certain names which are already public — we wait with bated breath for others.
I write this on World Water Day. The following is the laboratory report on water taken from the Wah springs, a once pristine source of fresh spring water from where the premier defence installation the Pakistan Ordnance Factories draws its drinking water. On Oct 23, 2007 the report had this to say: MPN (Most Probable Number) of coliforms: 18+/100ml; MPN of E. coli: 18+/100ml. On March 15, 2008: MPN of coliforms: 55/100ml; MPN of faecal coli-forms: 45/100ml; confirmed E. coli count: 45/100ml.
So there! We, the POFs and us who live in the area, are literally drinking human excreta! The huge jump in both readings (and the newest of these is fully two years old, mark) is due to the fact that houses and resultant soakage pits are coming up on the Wah hill from which flow the springs.
There is only one way to go about this. For the government through the POFs to acquire the portions of the Wah hill that house these springs and move the people who live on it to alternative accommodations. A very great contribution of the POFs would be to facilitate a fenced-in nature park on this hill containing a sanctuary for the once plentiful partridge, a bird that has been practically wiped out from the area.