Taliban’s Vice-Like Grip Over Pakistan
The Taliban movement, its origin and structure, has been focus of many studies and vast literature is now available on the subject. Most of the studies so far have focussed on the Taliban’s activities in Pakistan’s tribal areas and across the Durand line. Quite contrary to the existing studies, the book, written by Mujahid Hussain, asserts that the Taliban is no more a Pashtoon majority terrorist organisation but many fundamentalist and jehadi groups from Punjab have joined the ranks of this organisation.
The 223-page book, which is divided into 11 chapters, 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 book gives a detailed account of structure of radical as well as terrorist organisations, infighting among different factions and related activities. The author quotes an intelligence agency to assert that there are some 150,000 insurgents belonging to jehadi and fundamentalist organisations active in Punjab province and draws the readers’ attention to the fact that almost all fundamentalist organisations are based in Punjab. It is Punjab that provides a majority of the terrorists and suicide bombers to various organisations active in Pakistan’s tribal regions, The book negates the existing hypothesis that insurgency in tribal areas is driven by indigenous groups and bolsters the author’s arguments regarding the presence of Taliban and other outlawed organisations in Punjab.
Mujahid Hussain argues that although the right-leaning provincial government of the Muslim League denies the presence of Taliban in Punjab and considers a military operation in southern Punjab out of the question, he is unable to hide the fact that innocent people are being killed in terrorist attacks in Punjab cities.
The author states that after the US attacks on Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan, most of the Al-Qaeda leaders took shelter in Punjab. A majority of Al-Qaeda leaders arrested in Pakistan, including Khalid Muhammad Sheikh, Abu Zubeida and Abu Khalfan, were arrested from the Punjab cities of Rawalpindi and Faisalabad. Punjabi Taliban is based on author’s unparalleled access into the terrorist organisations and provides a unique insight into this new phase, in the ongoing struggle against terrorism.
Revealing the linkages between the ISI, Sipah-e-Sahaba and certain pro-PML-N politicians and religious leaders in Punjab, Mujahid Hussain also divulges how jehadi and sectarian elements present in different forms (e.g. Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangavi, Taliban etc) were able to kill religious minorities—Shias, Ahmadis and Christians—without any fear of the force of law because of the powerful support available to these groups by the ISI. Reading this book may provide an insight into pro-ISI and pro-Taliban propaganda by their agents and cohorts in Pakistani media, politics and establishment.
By Ashok Kumar