By Raza Shahani
When I had touched the consciousness of watching the black-and-white television, I saw the Taliban using heavy weapons against their compatriots to occupy Soviet-left Afghanistan. While the Taliban were rooting out their opponents with the blitzkrieg speed, the people and state in Pakistan were walking swagger and hubris.
Needless to say, Pakistan, along with the Saudi Arabia and the UAE, promptly recognized the Taliban regime and established the diplomatic relations. Similarly, a batch of millions was born in Pakistan during latter half of the 1990s; the period, during which the Taliban were establishing their rule in Afghanistan. Today, those Pakistanis born in mid-90s have reached the age of their mid-20s. This is the prime age for getting on work, job or begin a business to sustain their family and make life going. However, the situation is otherwise.
After capturing Kabul in 1996, the Taliban hosted Al Qaeda, the international terrorist organization. Thus, Al Qaeda began operating from Afghan soil against the US interests in the different countries.
Finally, it blew up Twin Towers with striking hijacked plans.
The Taliban rejected the US pleas and warnings to dissociate from Al Qaeda and handover its leadership to the US. Forced to bomb the Taliban regime and Al Qaeda, the US demanded Pakistan to join the international coalition against the terrorist organization and its host. In fact, being a weak country, Pakistan couldn’t resist the US demand and joined the coalition forces unwillingly as a frontline state against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The war dragged on for two decades. As its spillover effect, the war entered the Pakistani territory. The cost of war for Pakistan has been unimaginable – in terms of both men and material. The life of youth was ruined. They were wasted!
In fact, when the war was ending after two decades, the Pakistani youth born in 90s was expecting peace and opportunities here in Pakistan. Yet, again they are seeing the Taliban, weapons, war and no opportunity to undertake the responsibility. However, once again Khan Regime and the system-beneficiary people and institutions are celebrating the Taliban gains in Afghanistan!
Ironically, up to entering politics, Khan had spent his life dancing and debouching with wine and women in the clubs, ball parties and on the beaches in the West. His own nearly necked photos and video clips with his so many western girlfriends litter the internet. However, Khan perfectly knew that Islam can be easily sold out to the Pakistanis, especially to the Punjabis. He then rightly sensed the tilt of the security establishment towards the Taliban and the like.
So, Khan, a playboy, put on the garb of a piety teacher. Besides, Khan assumed the role of the political mouthpiece of the Taliban. This was the reason the Taliban had nominated him as the head of their negotiating team to hold dialogue with the Pakistani government.
These two factors, peoples’ frustration with the traditional parties and last but not least the help of the establishment helped him come in power. But Khan brutally failed to deliver. The people again felt cheated.
Nevertheless, Khan succeeded in concealing his governance failure under the cloak of religion. The first thing he did was to purchase Ertugrul, a Turkish drama series. The drama series was based on Jihad and in it was eulogized cutthroat culture!
This cutthroat culture enamored, especially the people of the Punjab, who constitute more than 50 percent population of Pakistan. Moreover, the next misleading tact Khan employed was to exaggerate the subject of Islam phobia. Khan’s hyperbole against Islam phobia further captivated the people in the Punjab.
The result was further radicalization of the society to the point of terrorism and rebellion against state. In Baluchistan religious terrorists abducted Hazara Shia coal-mine workers and beheaded them. Besides, a frightening scene was seen in the Punjab, where hundreds of thousands of militant-protesters filled the streets of the nearly all cities of the Punjab to coerce the government to oust the French ambassador on the blasphemy caricature charges. The protesters were so radicalized that they killed, brutally beat and paraded cops on the roads. Nearly around a week, the Punjab was hijacked by the zealots. The state then kneeled before the lynching crowds and signed a peace deal with them while promising to bring the issue of ambassador in the parliament.
Thus, with the government of the Taliban in the brethren neighboring Afghanistan connected with the long, rugged and porous border, already hyper-radicalized society would be further radicalized. Pakistan is not a homogenous society. It is divided on the sectarian lines. So, the sectarian violence would be revived. Furthermore, drugs and weapons would inundate the country.
Apart from all aforementioned pearls of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the frightening scenario is that the Taliban may encroach upon the Pashtun areas of Pakistan, as the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistan Pashtun are the same people connected by the blood, language, history, culture and geography. What severs them is the Durand Line drawn by the British during ending part of the 19th century. Then Pakistan army will be fighting the Taliban. This scenario is possible because the ethnicity and religion can mix!
As a consequence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, war, weapons, drugs and violence would deprive the Pakistani youth their future! Again, this batch born in the mid-90s would be wasted and ruined!
Raza Shahani, teaches at Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, Sindh, Pakistan.
By Raza Shahani