By Prof. Farah A Khan:
It was a sad day when 14 years old Malala was shot at point blank range in her school van in Mingora, Swat. Two other girls were also injured. This brought out massive grief and anger in the Pakistani society. But it left me and so many others confused. The TTP admitted responsibility for the shooting claiming that she was ‘defaming’ the Taliban and fraternizing with the enemy i.e. the Western powers. They also cited Islamic injunctions of Shariah for attempted killing of this young girl. The Pakistani media and the people condemned the Taliban and asked for revenge.
I have to give brief background of conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan to better understand what is going on in the area.
‘Taliban’ has become the trade name of Pakhtuns fighting the Americans in Afghanistan. The Taliban movement though started by madrassa students engulfed the Afghan society including former warlords. The primitive style of Shariah introduced by Mullah Omar was align to the Afghan society and caused many hardships to the people. Nevertheless ‘Taliban’ brought much need peace in years of war torn country and stopped drug trade to a large extent.
Then came another jihad this time against the American invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. The invasion had no legal or moral grounds except to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. It is morally wrong to destroy a country for one individual especially when he was found hiding in Pakistan. Our spiritual leaders of north-west full of Islamic zeal of jihad persuaded thousands of young men to fight the Americans in Afghanistan where they faced Daisy Cutters rather than American ground troops. Most never returned.
Imran in some contest claimed that jihad is Koranic injunction and ‘farz’ for all Muslims. At the same time he strongly condemned attack on Malala without denouncing the all Taliban factions. In other words he was supporting the ‘Taliban’ fighting the Americans in Afghanistan and condemned drone war in Waziristan, which is supplying cannon fodder against the Americans in Afghanistan. Interpretation of jihad is controversial. In British India where the Muslims were heavily outnumbered by Hindus concept of jihad was modified. Jihad was divided into seven categories and on the top of the list was jihad on education and the last was of armed conflict where state approval was necessary. Today in contrast more than 40 ragtag organizations claim to be jihadi. They use public sentiments to earn money. We also have large outlawed jihadi organizations where their leaders openly appear in public gatherings condemning America, India and Israel. Their tactics is to use terror to subdue opposition, media and the state apparatus in Pakistan. There are reports that our armed forces are also supporting jihadi elements. Nevertheless armed forces personnel are often targeted through inside information.
Then there is also a demand to enforce Shariah all over Pakistan. In the heart of Fata the operational law is of Pakhtunwali and modified Shariah where the old code is superior to Shariah. In any case Pakistan has Shariah compliant constitution in place today.
The emergence of Pakistani Taliban in Fata started in 2004 following Lal Masjid, Islamabad killings where a lot of children from north west of Pakistan were enrolled. Revenge attacks started to follow. This drew Pakistan army into Swat and then into Fata. So far it is claimed 40,000 Pakistanis have been killed in the on-going conflict and there is no end in sight.
Major religious political parties Jamat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam of Maulana Fazlur Rehman are part time jihadi organisations and haters of America, India and Israel. Their leadership regretted attack on Malala but also condemned innocent girls being killed in drone attacks and court verdict on alleged Al Qaeda collaborator Affia Siddiqi now in US jail. The attack on Malala was hence made conditional without condemnation of Taliban. Like the Taliban these parties also draw conclusion that the condemnation of attack on Malala in foreign media as a sign of her collaboration with anti Taliban forces.
The major political parties PPP and PML-N regretted attack on Malala but failed to come out with concrete measures to stop Taliban attacks. These parties also did not condemn Taliban for their silly and senseless action. The media and the politicians are afraid of backlash from the jihadi organizations and prefer keep mum.
As far as Taliban, who so-ever they may be, are concerned they are quiet about the incidence. They seem to have miscalculated the negative response from the people of Pakistan. But we are still waiting to find out who are the jihadi Taliban and Pashtun nationalists involved in this senseless attack. Meanwhile we shall look with suspension at full burqa clad females and long bearded males who now dominate the scene in Pakistan.
At the end of the day we need to engage Fata tribes in a dialogue to end this senseless bloodletting. We need to side-line the jihadi element among the tribes. This will take time. This has to be done by civilians and not the army. Attack on Malala and two other girls should push us into resolving the Fata issue rather intensify military solution, which even the Americans failed to achieve in Afghanistan.
For Malala my advice is to migrate to US or UK because Pakistan does not need her. I think many of us fall into this category.