Terror Engulfing Pakistan
In and around last three decades, Punjab in Pakistan has rapidly changed itself and adopted traits that are utterly incompatible with its previous traditions and norms. Almost every beautiful tradition of the Punjabi society has been discarded in favour of ugly habits and intolerant extremist tendencies have replaced the culture of tolerance and harmony. In fact, the prevalent situation in Punjab resembles the terror-hit areas of Pakistan where the power and authority of the State is practically non-existent. The nation is not in tandem with the State about such a war.
According to the opinion-makers and influential figures from the right-wing, this is not Pakistan’s war and Pakistan is throwing away its precious resources in this war by ‘others’ and killing its compatriots just to please others. Against this backdrop, the book, Punjabi Taliban, unravels the truth behind the emergence of Taliban in Punjab with one chapter each on the eight divisions: Lahore, Bhawalpur, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Sargodha and Rawalpindi of Punjab province.
The 223-page book, which is divided into 11 chapters, gives a detailed account of structure of radical as well as terrorist organisations, infighting among different factions and related activities. Mujahid Hussain’s views in his book were vindicated when Governor Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his own bodyguard in January 2011. Taseer was a brave man who stood for a liberal, tolerant and progressive Pakistan. But he paid for his life for standing up to the blasphemy law and countering Taliban.
The writer states that by 2011 Pakistan showed clear evidence that it would not fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda the way the rest of the world wanted it to. “Al Qaeda has emerged unconquerable by the Pakistani Army” because of the “shift of Punjab’s ‘non-state actors’ from the Pakistan Army to Al Qaeda and the reorganisation of these non-state actors as the state assets by the military”. Hussain, therefore says, “The attack on the Taliban and Al Qaeda will result in the loss of country’s biggest province.” The book highlights how the people involved in Islamist terrorism are adding fuel to fire in Pakistan’s intra-state conflicts. The most important part of the book talks about the relationship between south Punjab and the rise of Sipah-e-Sahaba, which has opened a jihadi front against India. In Pakistan, it’s ironical that while there are enough factors that ensure a fight against terrorism, there are simultaneously enough reasons that actively inhibit that very struggle.
The book is an excellent effort by the author to provide a detailed account of organisational structures, activities and aspirations of Punjabi Taliban and related groups. The author has used his journalistic skills for investigating and presenting information on Punjabi Taliban. To authenticate his arguments he has attached photocopies of the notices and edicts issued by the various outlawed groups and has extensively surveyed the literatures printed and circulated by them. However, the author has failed to identify the ideological link between the radical organisations and the radical schools of thought and also what binds these radical and terrorist outﬁts and why there are so many groups if they draw inspiration from same school of thought.
However, this book is an interesting and authoritative source for understanding the Talibanisation of Punjab and more importantly efforts by radical Islamic groups to construct a radical society in which there would be no space for the moderate voices of Islam. The book serves as a reminder of the fact that the radicals have already eroded the space occupied by the Hindus, Christians and Ahmadiyas and now they are doing the same to other moderate groups within Islam.
By Ashok Kumar