Pakistan has agreed to introduce Islamic law in Swat valley, and neighboring areas of the northwestern region, in a bid to take the steam out of a Taliban uprising raging since late 2007.
The reasoning behind this move, according to the government is to use Sufi Mehammed, a cleric backing the movement to restore peace in Swat as a touch-stone for bringing stability to the region. However, as many critics have rightly warned this maybe a delusion and a short term measure which will only aggravate the situation further.
First of all, one needs to understand what are the teachings of the clerics working in North Western areas? The sad reality remains, there is plenty of confusion about the teachings of Islam throughout the world. I found it in the sophisticated English-speaking British Pakistani Muslims I met in the UK, and I find it in all the sections of Pakistani society.
Despite practicing the opposite, many Muslim are still afraid to say a loud word against the teachings of Madrassahs run under extremist ideologies. The frail criticism stems from the ignorance that many Muslims have today about their religion. Talibansation hence in this so called religious society formed on weak-minded teachings hence was easy and fast.
Since the war on terror started, the surge of Talibanisation has only grown in Pakistan. Some have categorised it as resistance to so-called ‘sudden empowerment and modernisation’ introduced by the former President Musharrsaf, others have attributed it to the growing hatred towards West since the Iraq war.
Pakistan on the brink
Whatever the reasons, today Pakistan seems to be at the threshold where the surge of Talibanisation can turn the tide either way. In the last two years, the sprouting organizations of Taliban in Pakistan have sent warnings to CD shops around the country including Karachi that the music business needs to be stopped or they will be bombed.
A CD market was actually bombed last year in Attock which is the gateway to Punjab, a province known for its modernity and education. Earlier this month, a group of clerics had a meeting with media requesting them to tone down on the use of unIslamic material in their adverts while newspaper reports have accused Pakistani media of having Taliban element in them.
On the other hand, there has been strong criticism on Pakistan Army’s ISI for underhandedly supporting the Taliban, while the ISI dutifully denied this allegation saying that their war is actually against the Taliban.
However, the timing of this new mini U- turn on Talibanisation in Swat is notable. It comes in less than one month since the new US government took charge of the office and at a time when Richard Halbrooke recently visited the region and gave a statement that India, Pakistan and the US face a common enemy in the face of Taliban. Lurking in the back are the eerie accusations of US writers Ron Suskind and David Sanger.
Supporting an ideology one believes in comes well under a personâ€™s democratic rights. What worries me immensely is the lack of understanding about the dangerous ideology imposed by the Taleban and the confusion amongst many Muslims that what Talebans support is a truly Islamic ideology.
Whatever maybe the outcome of the peace deal, the long term impact of this on Pakistan does not seem promising.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Pakistan,Religion,South Asia