April 14, 2009
This evening, I went to a lecture given by Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear scientist and professor of physics at Quaid E Azam University in Islamabad. Besides his academic credentials, the good professor is a civil activist and has taken on many challenging issues vital to the health of civil society in Pakistan. His talk was on the subject, “Can the Taliban Win in Pakistan?” There were over three hundred people cramemd into the library to listen to him speak, which he did for over an hour.
I took notes and here in bullet point form is the gist of what he said. Sorry I can’t turn this into a well-thought out essay, but I think it’s more effective if they’re presented in brief phrases that are punchy and to the point.
- Today the Taliban headquarters are in Quetta
- The Army basically allowed Taliban to take over Swat
- How did Maulana Fazlullah use the FM radio to broadcast his messages of hate? The broadcasts are continuing today, despite the heavily touted arrival of “jamming” equipment
- The army is both fighting and aiding the Taliban; it is complicit in the takeover of Swat. It still believes that there are “good” and “bad” Taliban.
- 70-90% of the people in Swat hate them. So how did they advance so rapidly?
- It is not just the doings of just the army; the state failed to deliver a modicum of justice. The Shariah courts would deliver speedy justice but misjustice has a greater chance of occurring.
- There has already been a crude redistribution of wealth. Land taken from higher class Maliks and given to lower class Gujjars
- Ideological aspect of the Taliban – highly charged ruthless dedicated leadership
- What do they want? Ostensibly to rid Afghanistan of Americans, but then why are they killing so many Pakistani Muslims?
The Taliban are not going to go away. They want control over the population of Pakistan, with Shariah rule as defined by them. They re not interested in peace. There shoud be no minorities in Pakistan. They want a pure society with their version of Islam.
They will do this by:
- destroy the writ of the state and make it appear powerless
- Attack social services, security institutions, jirga system
- They are barbarians with a well thought out plan.
- They want to create rifts between major power players: Pakistan-Afghanistan, Pakistan-India, Pakistan-United States
- The public opinion that it’s “not our war”
- Why are they killing Muslims in such a barbaric way? (Pictures of Shias ripped to pieces accompanied this part of the talk)
- But this is a war for survival, an existential issue
- Politicians are not coming out in support of the police
- Civil society does not support the police
- No comment about slaughter of Shias ۔ genocide, decapitations
- Taliban have discovered the value of the video and dvds – since television has been banned, the prime form of entertainment for children is videos of decapitations performed by young men
- This kind of psychological warfare that has intimidated the Pakistan army
- The Taliban want to create a Jihadistan and a US Army commander has said this will happen in six months. In this kind of state, th Taliban will crush the women completely.
- We will be completely removed from civilization
- People in India are praying for Pakistan’s survival because India will be finished if this happens
- Our rulers are cowards who pander to the right
What should we do to prevent Jihadistan?
- We have to change our focus. India is not our primary enemy, it is the Jihadis
- The military has to turn its guns from eastern borders to western ones
- The army still believes there are good and bad Taliban
- The army must end its complicity with the Jihadis. The army is paid to defend us so we have to demand they do that. They must not be allowed to let our cities fall.
- We have to deal with the madressahs. We must change the mindset, not cosmetic changes
- There is no military solution
- We have to make this a less enabling environment
- We need justice, and income redistribution
Bottom line; to save ourselves, we have to fight the battle of ideology. Religion and state must be understood as not compatible. The fight is also political and cultural. The Taliban want to eradicate all forms of expression; we must continue to make art and music and expression.
- The Taliban are in the cities, not just the mountains. *
The above is taken from an email I received from someone, who was, fortunate enough to be at the lecture by Dr. Hoodbhoy