It is an oft repeated saying that every dark cloud has a silver lining. Even the worst situations and circumstances have some positive out comes. Though today every Pakistani is sad at the tragic incidents taking place in Swat and FATA, yet there are some long term positive outcomes which are at the moment being overlooked by the media pundits and experts. The rise of Taliban in Swat and FATA and their actions after getting authority for a short while have helped in breaking many myths and in dispelling many illusions which had fascinated the poor people of Pakistan for a very long time.
It is for the first time that our nation saw at first hand that what these elements stand for, what ideologies they actually harbor, what strategies they espouse to achieve their goals and what is the real face of some parties within the mainstream political system claiming to be champions of democracy. Until now most of the Pakistanis had no idea what it means to be living in a territory controlled by extremist elements and how it is going to affect their lives and life styles.
We had only read about this style of governance in the columns of some journalists heaping praises on Mulla Umer and his ministers dealing with the affairs of state in Afghanistan while sitting on the prayer mates and wearing simple cloths. When the people of Pakistan looked at the lavish life styles of our current ruling class and exploitation of the national resources, they thought that perhaps they also needed such down to earth and simple rulers to solve their problems. But our journalist had failed to show the other side of the picture. Those appearing simple in manner were tyrannical in nature.
The Taliban in Afghanistan were bent on imposing a particular brand of Islam on the masses. Their particular brand of Islam and Shariah has no roots in Islamic history and fiqah. They had interpreted Islam according to their limited and outdated perceptions and were not ready to recognize any other interpretation of Islam even by the most prestigious scholars and Ulema. The Taliban in Pakistan have proved no different. It was only when we heard Sufi Muhammad denouncing democracy and decreeing all those who believed in democracy as Kafirs that we realized what was in the offing for all of us. Some of us sincerely believed that Taliban brand Nizam-e-Adl was the panacea for all the ills of the society. Thanks to statements of Sufi Muhammad and his cronies, now the people of Pakistan understand that Taliban and their supporters recognize only one evil in the society i.e. women. Taliban and their supporters don’t think that inequality, corruption, lawlessness, poverty, and access to health and educational facilities are any problems at all. Their Islam can make all the social evils of society disappear by confining women to their houses, by not allowing them to see the light of the day and by denying them all human rights. If Nizam-e-Adl had not been signed and if Sufi Muhammad and his followers had not expressed their real views openly, all these facts would have remained hidden from us and we would have continued to believe that perhaps given a chance Taliban brand Islam may prove to be the answer to our social problems.
Many religious political parties have been fooling the innocent people of Pakistan in the name of Islam and Islamic system of government since the independence. They have always claimed that they believe in democracy and want to come to power through democratic means. Though it was not clear what kind of Islamic system they wanted to impose once they came to power in Pakistan. The temporary success of Taliban in Swat and Malakand exited the leaders of our religious political parties and they inadvertently let their guards fall and exposed their real intentions to the nation.
The statement by the newly elected Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami, Syed Munawar Hassan has explained the vision of religious political parties about the Islamic system in the country. He said that Jamaat and Sufi Muhammad shared the same vision of Islam and only differed in the methodologies adopted. His statement is indicative of the fact that Jamaat had in principle no objection to the kind of tyrannical Shariah being imposed on the people of Swat. The only objection is on the means which were adopted for that purpose. In fact Taliban and TSNM have enjoyed the tacit support of most religious political parties and Ulema until now and it is not surprising that we seldom find Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and Qazi Hussain Ahmed and other Ulema out rightly condemning the suicide attacks killing the innocent people. Even if they deign it proper to condemn the attacks, the condemnations are always qualified with many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ seeking implied justifications of these attacks. The opposition of Jammat-e-Islami and Jamiat to the current military action in Malakand thus comes as no surprise. Both these parties were among the beneficiaries of Afghan war and had a major role to play in the rise of Talbanization in the area. In the victory of Taliban they envisioned the accomplishment of their own agendas of ruling a theocratic state and in their defeat they see their own dreams being crushed.
Similarly, until now most of the people of Pakistan sincerely believed that war against Russia was an indigenous Jihad movement fought by Afghans themselves on their own. The Taliban phenomenon has helped us in realizing that war against Russia was as much Jihad as the Taliban insurgency in NWFP and adjoining areas. Taliban in Pakistan are fighting a war fully funded and supported by our enemies. Without their sustained support and supply it would not be possible for them to hold against a full fledged army action. The war in Afghanistan against Russia was being fully supported and funded by America for her strategic purposes and fought by warlords trained by Pakistani forces. Now the same Jihad is being carried out against state of Pakistan and Pakistani armed forces. The only difference is that now it is being funded by some other stakeholders as well. The Frankenstein which we had created to ward off Russian threat has now turned against its own creator.
The shattering of all these myths will enable the people of Pakistan to see the things in their right perspective and will ultimately lead to the retreat of these forces which had kept the Pakistani society hostage for the last three decades. People of Pakistan are now much clearer about the type and system of government which they want and they have also seen through the designs of the extremist forces. In the longer run we shall once again be able to see the re-establishment of a liberal and pluralistic society which Pakistan had back in sixties and seventies and which was destroyed by the hypocritical policies of the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq.