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Is Taliban Going to Take Over Pakistan

What is the Taliban Threat and How Can Pakistan be Saved

Fiza Asar


May 12, 2009


The Taliban are advancing in Pakistan and weakening the government's control over the country. This brings Pakistan at the centre of concern worldwide.


Recent news from Pakistan brings to notice the alarming situation of Taliban advancement in the country. World leaders, organizations and media have their eyes on the country.


The following article aims to shed light on some aspects of the situation in order to better understand the complex politics of the area.


I. Who are the Taliban

Literally the word "Taliban" means students. These were students in madrassahs built with the assistance of the United States and other ally-in-the-cause countries built during the time of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. They governed Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 until the US attack of Afghanistan began.


II. Why did the US attack Afghanistan

Taliban government brought a strict measure of Shariah law in Afghanistan and the wave of Islamism caught its popularity in the region. Pakistan being its ally at the time could be the next target and because of Afghanistan's and Pakistan's geo-political location, this meant trouble for the larger political-economic scenario in the region.


More popularly, it was believed that Taliban was promoting Muslim militancy. After 9/11 this fear proved real. The US believed that the Al-Qaeda were bred in Afghanistan under the Taliban.




III. What is Pakistan's Take Towards Taliban Since 2001

Uptil 2001, Pakistan was amongst the three countries officially recognizing the Taliban government in Afghanistan. It was after the attack on Afghanistan by the United States that Musharraf's government changed its stance and Pakistan became United States' active ally in war against terrorism.


Several hundred of people have been killed in Pakistani military attacks in Pakistan's northern areas, where Taliban/ Al-Qaeda activity was feared. Since then militant repercussionary attacks within Pakistani borders have been rampant too.


IV. Why Are There Repercussions in Pakistan

1) Taliban comprise largely of the Pashtun ethnicity in Afghanistan, which also forms a large population of North-Western Pakistan.


2) Madrassahs to train young Muslim men to fight Soviets were built in Pakistan and funded by the US. 3) The largest number of Afghan migrants during the Soviet-Afghan war came to Pakistan. Figures claim the number to exceed a million, majority of whom have settled since then in Pakistan.


4) The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has historically allowed easy access to the Pashtuns living on both sides of the border.


IV. What Do They Mean by Taliban Advancement in Pakistan

Somewhere between the Taliban government in Afghanistan, 9/11 and its connection to Al-Qaeda, the US attack on Afghanistan and its repercussions in Pakistan the line between Taliban and Al-Qaeda became finer. During the repercussions, many splinter groups came to rise resenting US imperialism, sympathising with the Afghan civilians suffering in the attacks, and those resenting the Pakistani military killing Pakistanis in the northern areas in the name of war on terror. Hence, the question "Who are Al-Qaeda" became more complex to answer.


Taliban, being led by Sufi Muhammad, have brought the Shariah law in North-West Frontier Province in Pakistan and taken control over several villages in the North. The fear of Taliban take over has reached threatening levels in Punjab. However, many commentators still argue whether Taliban is a party or group of people or a thought and whether attacking them would reap the results the Pakistani government wants to see.


V. What are Pakistan's Fears

1) The Taliban toppling its peace and bringing the insurgent, militant situation in the country.


2) The nation does not want a repeat of Afghanistan happening in its country.


3) Pakistan also fears being sandwiched by Taliban from the West and by India from the East.


4)The Pakistani intelligence has also shown fears that Indian intelligence is behind Afghan insurgencies in Pakistan. After all they have more consulates in Afghanistan than even in the US.


5) What the Pakistani people also fear is the situation getting out of control and creating an excuse for the US to enter Pakistan officially.


VII. How Can This Situation be Tackled

1) Internally, by advocacy and campaigning within Pakistan that targets the country's masses and changes the so-called Taliban school of thought that apparently encourages militancy and use of arm-power to take control over a country.


2) By larger Pakistani media involvement in not thrashing the Taliban and hence creating resentment in the masses, rather by providing the alternatives to the masses so they can feel safer too.


3) The United States has to continue supporting the Pakistani government and empowering it to fight the intellectual, media, political and military war against this insurgency.


4) The Western politicians and media plays a pivotal role in not hyping up the Taliban fear and making the Pakistani government feel weaker and out of control. This will only aggravate Pakistani fears as mentioned in point 5 of section VI.


5) The US should also assist India in not aggravating the situation by taking this as an opportunity to weaken Pakistan. By showing more support for the Indians versus the Pakistanis, the US will be provoking the same fears that have been mentioned in points 3 and 4 of Section VI.


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