By Saeed Qureshi: He is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat
The chips are down. The fighter jets of Pakistan Air Force have finally pounded a few hideouts of the murderous Taliban who have been wantonly killing the innocent civilians and military personnel alike. That action came in retaliation to the slaughter or slaying of 23 captured Frontier constabulary soldiers by Taliban.
It is good that finally a reluctant Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to swallow this bitter pill and order such indispensable and overdue action. His move to strike a deal with the unyielding and unpredictable Taliban was indeed well-intentioned and was an earnest effort to attain peace through dialogue and parleys.
But the dialogue takes places and produces expected outcome when both the interlocutors are on the same page and genuinely interested to come to amicable terms. Perhaps Taliban underestimated or purposely or even disdainfully disregarded or misconstrued the government’s offer of olive branch to end the bloodshed.
The military action has been delayed certainly but it is yet not too late.
The PMLN regime has earned a dividend of choosing the peaceful course first and thus it stands exonerated from the blame or stigma that it opted for use of force without first resorting to the peaceful overtures and amicable endeavors.
It should be expected that the military onslaught would not be halted and punctured halfway without rooting out the menace and scourge of militants destabilizing Pakistan with their orgy of blood and incessant terrorism. The Taliban militants have been attacking the military complexes and headquarters with impunity inflicting heavy losses both human casualties and serious blows to military equipment including blowing up military air-crafts.
If the strikes and anti Taliban offensive continues unabated for quite some time, one can forebode the crippling and elimination of this furious pedigree of religious fighters who by their savage militancy are serving neither Islam nor the people at large.
Their strategy is to drive fear and terrorize the people to blindly and docilely accept their version of an Islamic regime which means the country should be renamed as Islamic emirate, chief boss of the country should be called Amirul-Momineen (the leader of the faithful) and his second in command should be titled caliph.
Now this concept of statehood flies in the face of a modern, democratic and nation state. The kind of state or caliphate that this ignorant lot of renegades wants to impose on Pakistan and even Afghanistan cannot find its parallel or model even during medieval and early eras of Islamic dynasties. From Omayyad to Ottoman Empire all were secular and family kingdoms or authoritarian reigns.
Even in preset times of democracy and enlightenment, Saudi Arabia is called the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. Saudi Arabia is the abode of Islam, and yet negates the Islamic rule of choosing the head of the government by popular vote. In sheer violation of the Islamic canon or practice of Khilafat-e-Rashida it is not a caliphate but a kingdom ruled by Saud family and is named after the ruling family.
The other states and emirates in the Middle East or Arab peninsula too are the family fiefdoms and thus have nothing to do with such lofty concepts that” power belongs to the people” as well as, equality, justice and fundamental rights.
A modern secular state offers most conducive conditions and congenial environment for religious freedom and fear-free practice of one’s religion. A rigid dogmatic, ruthlessly orthodox, bigoted and sectarian state leads to the suffocation and stifling of religious pluralism and diversity of faiths.
An isolated island of merciless, intolerant and narrow minded regime as the Taliban want to establish never existed, nor can it function. Such a regime cannot be compatible with the norms of independence, fusion of cultures and integration that is pervading the globe.
So the elements and forces within Pakistan that harbor some kind of sympathy and support for these queer and freak guys and later day Islamic warrior should rethink their outlook. The Taliban are the product of the last two or three decades.
Jamaat Islami for one is condemning the military action vehemently by accusing the army of killing innocent people which means Taliban. They supported such an action in East Pakistan over four decades ago. If Taliban are innocent then all devils and killers should also be treated as sinless.
Jamaat-e-Islami opposed the creation of Pakistan and now is busy in dismantling it. They are wholly or partly responsible for separation of former East Pakistan. Ironically they are sympathizing with a band of thugs and heartless bounty hunters and accusing Pakistan army for an overdue and belated action.
Such crony religio-political outfits such as JUI are lashing out at the army and denouncing the army operation. This is also one of the political parties that opposed the creation of Pakistan. They have been pulling every trick in their kitty to weaken Pakistan and at the same time blackmailing every government and making hay while the sun shines. Their leaders always speak with their tongues in cheek and grudgingly support any plan that leads to a better Pakistan.
Neither the incumbent government nor the armed forces should relent in their indispensable blitz against these monsters called by default as Taliban. The use of brutal force surgical or targeted is the only option to debilitate the infrastructure of Taliban. This option should remain open and used whenever there is a blast o terrorist attack by these enemies of Pakistan.
If the Taliban attack anywhere in Pakistan the armed forces should retaliate with full might. Their presence and continuation among the civil society and damaging Pakistan’s economy its infrastructure and social peace is like a proverbial “Damocles Sword” and constant threat to the solidarity, integrity and progress of Pakistan. It is overdue to break that sword. It’s time to nip this evil.