VIEW: Who are the Taliban? —Mohammad Nafees - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An organisation that leaves its mark on every gruesome suicide or bomb attack in the country and yet nobody seems to know where they live and how they operate. Now they are even planning to go across the border. What a mysterious outfit!

While the whole nation was still debating who to hold responsible for the heinous crime of murdering minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, two successive suicidal attacks took place in Faisalabad and Peshawar with the Taliban proudly claiming the responsibility for both the attacks, and thus proving the might and ability with which they can kill and maim innocent people when and where they wish to. The debate became more crucial and the news media started probing different aspects of these incidents, touching upon every detail except the claim of the Taliban.

An editorial in a popular Urdu daily outrightly rejected the claim of the Taliban as unimportant and instead suspected a very deep-rooted conspiracy behind these attacks whilst ignoring the written and verbal claim of the Taliban admitting their involvement in Bhatti’s assassination. Soon after the suicidal attack on a funeral gathering in Peshawar, the chief of the Amn lashkar from Adezai village near Peshawar criticised the government for being unsupportive of their fight against the Taliban and warned that the lashkar would join the Taliban if they did not get the necessary support and protection from the government. If the Taliban were not responsible for these attacks, as the famous Urdu daily claimed, why did the chief of the lashkar talk about joining the Taliban?

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has always been considered a local organisation as opposed to al Qaeda, which makes its presence felt on a global level. Now their profile has taken a step forward. The latest revelation made by the interior minister shows that the Taliban are now expected to start their activities in India too. What a leap for an organisation that had supposedly sprung out of the tribal belts of Pakistan back in 2002 or so; now it is eyeing an expansion of its operations beyond the border of its birthplace. This sounds like a fairytale for the militants (does it not?). An organisation that leaves its mark on every gruesome suicide or bomb attack in the country and yet nobody seems to know where they live and how they operate these sinister activities of killing innocent people using human bombs and other weapons of their choice. Now they are even planning to go across the border. What a mysterious outfit! They are like the famous Hollywood movie character, The Invisible Man, who carried out all his activities without being seen by other people. The Taliban also have people working for them who have the ability to remain invisible to many people in this country of spiritual sanctity. They come, they attack and they disappear into thin air, leaving traces that always fail to convince many people of their involvement in the crime. The poor Taliban — they must be wondering what additional proof they should provide to convince the naysayers!

In criminal cases, universal practice dictates the apprehension of all those who claim responsibility for the crime or are suspected of committing such crimes. In our country, it is diametrically opposite and that too in selective cases. Here, an imam (cleric) can go scot-free after calling believers to take action against any individual on the basis of unconfirmed charges of blasphemy. He can also issue fatwas (edicts) calling for the execution of the former president, the governor, and an under-trial Christian woman and yet face no legal action. The self-proclaimed judges and investigators in the shape of media persons, politicians and religious leaders add new dimensions to the illegal activities of outlawed organisations when they declare the verbal and written claims of the Taliban as fake and avoid condemning them for the claims they make. Even if those claims are false, what kind of glory do they feel in making them public? Nothing other than the fact that even if they are not involved, they support such crimes.

Probably, the naysayers have many reasons to reject the written claim of the Taliban for the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti. First, throwing a written claim on the ground on a paper that contains the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was a clear cut blasphemous act while Shahbaz Bhatti and Salmaan Taseer were accused of an act of blasphemy. Secondly, the admission of this claim poses a serious question about the murderer of Salmaan Taseer: is he a security guard from the Elite Force in the capital city of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or a Taliban supporter who mysteriously crept into our security forces? If we take him as a Taliban agent, his supporters in the shape of lawyers and religious parties become a part of this outfit as well. Once the Taliban’s claim for the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti is accepted, the refusal of the senators and parliamentarians to pray for the departed soul of Salmaan Taseer becomes an act that appears to be in full conformity with the ideals pursued by the outlawed organisation that has been challenging the writ of the government. Therefore, it is better to say that there are no Taliban but those who claim or disclaim their existence. Period.

The writer is a freelance journalist and researcher. He can be reached at

Source :\04\13\story_13-4-2011_pg3_6

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