The Pakistan government has long been criticized at home and abroad for not taking a tough stand against the Taliban insurgencies, which has been growing like a plague in Pakistan. The Taliban rebels had been active especially in the North-West Frontier Province and have consolidated their position in the Swat valley region. After fierce fighting between the Pakistani army and the pro-Taliban groups, the Taliban truce deal of last March was an effort to minimize tensions. But this deal was much debated because it allowed pro Taliban groups to establish their hard line form of Islamic rule as law.
The truce deal was supposed to put an end to violence in this region. But this was proven wrong as Pak Tea House reported:
Two weeks after the Pakistani government capitulated to Islamist demands and imposed Islamic law throughout the Swat valley, armed militants are patrolling the streets of the district capital and masked gunmen have taken control of outlying districts, where they’re terrorizing residents and using intimidation to close girls’ schools.
The Pakistan army started to fight back to take control from Taliban and the fighting has escalated ever since. Chowrangi reports:
Military operations are taking place in three districts that stretch over some 400 square miles (1036 square kilometers), but most of the fighting has been in the main town of Mingora, which before the insurgency three years ago was home to around 360,000 people. The military claimed to have killed more than 147 militants in Swat and the neighboring Buner region. Officials have said nothing about civilian casualties. But those fleeing the region bore tales of families wiped out by stray shells.
More than half a million Pakistanis have been displaced due to the fighting and this has become a humanitarian crisis. And this is not going to end anytime soon. After the recent tripartite talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan and USA, Pakistan’s Prime Minister vowed for “elimination” of militants, as CHUP! – Changing Up Pakistan reported.
However, the claims of the Pakistan army may not be hundred percent true. Teeth Maestro posted first hand news from Buner:
The military is targeting the civilian population instead of hideout of the militants which resulted the casualties more than 100. ISPR’s reports are false. Their claim of killing 80 Taliban is totally baseless. All the killed people are commoners. Journalists are not allowed to enter the areas while local journalists are either in Peshawar or not writing or telling the truth due to the fear of both Taliban and Military.
This poses the question “who is winning the war“?
This time around there is less local sympathy for Taliban. But Adil Najam at All Things Pakistan points out:
It should not be a surprise, then, that at least some, probably many, and possibly most, “non-liberal,” “non-elite,” Pakistani Muslims would be against the Taliban and the war they are waging on Pakistan, Pakistanis and on Pakistani Muslims. The tragedy is that too many Pakistanis remain agnostic on the Talibanization threat and even more who are afraid of or reluctant to raise their voices against them.
All things Pakistan also tells that “Taliban are NOT the core issue. Effective policing and access to justice is“:
We need to fight the battle in NWFP. However, fighting a battle without a strategy for winning the war is another fanciful enterprise. That containing the Taliban will somehow cause the people of Pakistan to be more satisfied with their grievous lot is silly.
Jahane Rumi dispels some myths about the Taliban so that people can face the truth:
The terrorist activities going on in Pakistan are not jihad, or targeted to enforce sharia. These are criminal acts of violence killing thousands of innocent citizens and security forces of Pakistan in order to gain power and control over our land.
In the same post some suggestions by Amankaar Tehrik (peace movement) in Pakistan were highlighted:
- All government departments, including the military, must be scrutinized, to root out elements that are supportive of terrorism or no government strategy will be implemented effectively.
- Although USA and their allies were the major creators of this problem, at present the government should keep the interests of Pakistan and its ‘people first’ agenda while negotiating with these terrorists.
- We, the people, want to support our government in safeguarding the interests of the State of Pakistan and to combat terrorism. We urge the government and other key political parties to show their commitment and a clear intention to deal with the menace of terrorism.
- We call on media not to portray terrorists as “soldier of Islam or freedom fighters” and expose their brutalities against common people and the security forces of Pakistan.
Now the question is “can Pakistan's deep pluralist culture stop the Taliban infestation”?