A. Z. Hilali
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) created Taliban in 1994 and recruited radical Muslims from all around the globe and trained thousands of Muslims in religious schools of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In fact, the CIA deliberately promoted fundamentalism and extremism to protect the United States economic and commercial interests and the militants proved effective bodyguards driving against the burglars who attacked and looted the convoys. According to Selig Harrison, the CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic militant groups from all over the world to come to Pakistan and Afghanistan for their vested interests and provided million dollars for building up fierce and fanatical force to protect its sphere of influence to control trade route from Pakistan to Central Asia. The Taliban were not just recruits from traditional madrassas (Muslim theological schools) but were on the payroll of the CIA and soon became notorious for Pakistan because of their actions, practices and treatments. Religiously, they spread the conservative Wahhabi version of Islam based on Deobandi school of thought. It is interesting to note that most of the Taliban are illiterate, inexperienced and semiliterate and close to ultra-conservative Wahhabism (Deobandi) who follow a Salafist egalitarian model that was widely practiced among themselves, and regard Shia as non-Muslim. They hold interpretation that a Muslim's primary obligation and loyalty is only of religion. Thus, the Deobandis oppose any kind of social caste system within Islam and believe that they have a sacred right and obligation to wage jihad to protect Muslims in the world. So, the Taliban introduced an extremely harsh and rigid version of Islam in Afghanistan. They treated people inhumanly and their behaviour with women was against the will of Pashtunwali beliefs and novel values of Islam. The Taliban forced women to wear the burqa because according to their philosophy the face of a woman is a source of corruption and provocation. They prohibted women working outside the home and also banned performing duty in all field of life including education institutions and hospitals. Moreover, women were not allowed to be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a male chaperone, which led to illnesses remaining untreated. Taliban restricted women to visit the public places and also banned bright and multi-coloured clothes as they viewed as sexually and socially attractive. They also prohibted internet, movies, and television and banned popular music as well as kite-flying. Moreover, men are required to have beards and girls were forbidden to go to school. However, the philosophy and ideology of Taliban has come under attack when the tragic incident of 9/11 changed the fashion of World politics. The US hawkish elements carry out their crusade against the nations and Afghanistan was invaded and Taliban regime was replaced by the Northern Alliance. In this background, the US has initiated offensive strategy to eliminate Taliban and Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan and tribal areas of Pakistan. The Islamabad supported the US-led war on terror and sent more than 90,000 military troops along the Pakistan and Afghanistan border to contain the Taliban and al-Qadea terrorists' network. Pakistan also deployed its Frontier Corps and other paramilitary forces to target insurgents. In this regard, the efficiency of Pakistan is undoubtly remarkable because Pakistan military has captured more than seven hundred al-Qaeda operatives within its borders and handed over to the US as compare to Afghanistan poor performance who made no significant contribution to curb and control Taliban activities inside the country. On the other hand, Pakistan's military has proven effective in its mission in the tribal areas when nearly a thousand soldiers including officers have been killed in the fight against militancy. Moreover, this is the result of Pakistan's military cooperation with the US that presently the country is almost in a state of constant warfare and the Taliban and Al-Qaeda has become as serious threat to the state and society. In the contemporary time, the US wrong strategies and policies have made worst situation in Pakistan, particularly in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) including Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The US blind and incorrect covert military operations in the tribal areas have given sympathies to Taliban in the masses and anti-Americanism has increased tremendously in all-over Pakistan. In fact, as long as the US policy makers depend on Pakistan military, secret services and its leadership they were near to achieve their objectives but the day the US administration started consultations with India, Northern Alliance and Hamid Karzi (US Puppet Regime) the situation deteriorated for the United States and awful to Pakistan. According to political observers the US is directly responsible for Pakistan's political instability and disarray. So, this was not the result of Pakistan's planning but the US unflinching policies when the Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives have spread in different parts of Pakistan and strengthen their positions. Although before that the frontier region (NWFP) was heaven on earth but the American attacks and bombing converted the region into hell and today all strategically important areas of Pakistan have turned into a battle ground and the writ of Islamabad has become a great question mark. It is interesting to note that the alliance of CIA, RAW and KHAD have started offensive psychological warfare against Pakistan and continuously working on the agenda to destabilize or Balkanize of Pakistan. They have recruited hundreds of people and volunteers from different countries (India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Europe) including social evils, subversive elements, frustrated youth and professional criminals to damage Pakistan state, society and system. There are rumours that some countries such as Iran and Russia are also providing material and financial assistance to some groups of Taliban to give a tough time to Americans and also to protect their vested interests in the region. So, the secret alliance of three agencies have introduced new terrorists groups whose are functioning as a "Local Taliban" everywhere, in every place of Pakistan especially in the NWFP and their attitude and treatment is extremely violent, rigid and inhuman. They are religiously hardcore and their version of Islam is different than the actual Islam. They also introduced the toughest and brutal version of religion as compare to normal Islamic values and have no room for women activities and education. Their prime objectives are to target army, common citizens and public property to create chronic fear and frustration against Pakistan through the violent anarchy. In this regard, RAW and KHAD both are working under the umbrella of CIA and actively involved to provide training with advisers and material support to create stirring sense of terror, panic, insecurity and uncertainty. In this regard, India has supplied high-altitude warfare equipments to so-called militants. Even they have given defence advisors, anti-air and tank missiles, technical assistance against the Pakistan army and paramilitary forces. There are reports that India, Afghansitan and Iran are leading the anti-Pakistan military campaign on the ground and the US is providing information and logistic support. Military sources indicated that Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are being used as bases to launch anti-Pakistan operations by India and Afghanistan. In fact, India has launched a forceful diplomatic campaign against the ISI and Pakistan military and two brigade of the Indian army has been dispatched under the pretext to provide security to the Indian Consulates and Indian construction companies working on a large scale in Afghanistan. The first two brigades will be from the same mountain division. It is clear that it is the Indian plan to deploy 15,000 soldiers in Afghanistan with the support of Hamed Karzai. In this context, the evil designs of foreign forces, agencies, and agents have frustrated ISI and left no options to use all means to protect the security and survival of Pakistan. This institution has rendered an extraordinary service for the defence, survival and security of Pakistan. This is the reason that it is a "thorn in the eye" for those who are anti-Pakistan and are working against the security of country. The ISI has kept a strict watch over all those countries that have made military, political, or espionage plans against Pakistan; and on all the intelligence agencies of the world, be it the CIA, RAW and Khad. It has proved that Indian RAW has established special branch of its intelligence service specifically to target Pakistan. In reality, the RAW has a long history of involvement in Pakistan and working to promote dissatisfaction against Pakistan. According to the intelligence sources RAW is directly involved in sabotage activities in NWFP and supporting local Taliban movement financially to promote destructive activities in the frontier region. The reports have appeared that as many as 8,000 RAW and KHAD trained militants have entered in frontier region and they are actively working in different parts of area against the Pakistan military. Moreover, they have around 40 terrorist training camps near Pak-Afghan border in which militants are getting specialized training to handle explosives, engineer bomb blasts and use sophisticated weapons. According to reports some militants are from Pakistan and many are of different ethnic origin including Afghan and Indian Hindus and white Europeans and they are without circumcision (the fore skin of the male organ) but have beard to impress local people. Thus, RAW is supplying weapons through the Afghanistan to the local militant terrorists and providing shelter and training to the militant guerrillas for their malevolence objectives. So, RAW and KHAD has an extensive network of militants including dissident elements from various sectarian groups of NWFP. Moreover, Indian diplomats, RAW and the CIA officials have significantly enter in the Afghan ministry of tribal affairs and have close understanding to conduct covert activities inside tribal areas of Pakistan. Indian agents are instrumental in arranging meetings of tribal elders and Afghans with dual nationalities with Indian consulate officials in Jalalabad and assisting them in spotting and recruiting suitable tribal elders from Jalalabad and Pakistan's North and South Waziristan agencies for covert activities. The government of Pakistan has solid evidence that Indian and Afghan agents are carrying out clandestine activities in tribal areas of Pakistan and creating disturbing situation for the US and NATO troops, so they should attack Pakistan. So, the local Taliban are fighting against Pakistan military with modern and sophisticated weapons made by India, Russia and the United States. They are indiscriminatory killing or slaughtering innocent civilians, military personnel and cadets through brutal actions. They have evil plan to create an unprecedented disturbance and made it ungovernable situation for Pakistan. Further, they have created anarchy and fear through the violent actions, and are busy in attacking the infrastructure of military, communication and have targeted nuclear arsenals. It is not difficult to understand that the foreign actors have evil designs against Pakistan if they are supporting anti-state elements and hired criminals for the disturbance of state system. They are involved in subversive activities under the banner of jihad and attacking the security forces, bombing military camps, patrols and vehicles. Importantly, militants have recently geared up a guerrilla-style war against Pakistan military by adopting hit-and-run tactics. Ambushes, remote-controlled bomb explosions and long-range rocket attacks on military checkpoints and government installations have become a routine matter. So, this is a common practice to attack convoy of the military and paramilitary forces. It has also confirmed that the local Taliban are battling not only against the Pakistan military even they are also involved in kidnapping or killing businessmen and traders and foreigners including Chinese engineers to defame the country. The sources also confirmed that local Taliban are fighting on the indication of their masters (India, Afghanistan, America, Iran and Russia) and within a limited time they have converted the areas of Swat, Bajaur, Darra Adamkhel, North and South Waziristan into bloodbath where the blood of human beings is cheaper than the water. The insurgency of local Taliban has spread radically from rural area to urban centres of the NWFP and also expanded their grip to many major cities of Pakistan (Islamabad, Peshawar, Mardan, Bunnu, Quetta, Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi etc) and using the instrument of suicide bombers to paralize the functioning life of the country. Sometime they target the governemnt building, security checkpoints and police stations by the explosion and inflict heavy casualties. Moreover, they have created exicited turmoil in the NWFP owing to constant unrest and their brutal activities have suceesfully developed innumerable psychological discorders among the common people. Moreover, they are also involved in the burning of girls' schools in the volatile tribal region including Swat and Dir region and reports are received that local Taliban are involved in this unholy game. It has also confirmed that they have burnt several CDs and video shops in various towns of the NWFP and justified their actions by saying that Islam has no concept of entertainment rather it preaches to prepare for jihad every time. Ironically, local Taliban have challenged the writ of Islamabad and have virtually ceased to exist in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and other parts of NWFP. They have established their own courts in seven tribal agencies and twenty four (24) districts of the NWFP and their so-called Qazis (judges) awarding the verdicts including stoning to death sentence without formal legal procedure. In fact, local Taliban have established a parallel government in Pakistan's tribal areas and are administering their own brand of justice to the people. They have also taken the law into their own hands by providing speedy and severe justice without appropriate procedure and court system in the name of cleansing society of social evils. Moreover, they have been trying to force people to live according to their "puritanic interpretation" of Islamic law and tradition. Nevertheless, the activities of local Taliban are no longer confined to the NWFP and along the Pak-Afghan border. They have created a grave situation for Pakistan and have smashed all important and popular cultural centers in NWFP, and created a severe halt in civil life. The foreign sponsored militants have wilfully caused mass killings, serious suffering and inhuman treatment with unarmed civilian population, destruction of social and physical structure in strategically valuable parts of NWFP. The brutal actions of local Taliban have resulted in the death of thousands of innocent people, the destruction of hundreds of homes and villages, and the dislocation of thousands of people. So, the brutalities of proxy militants have created human, economic and environmental catastrophes for the people of NWFP. Nonetheless, the misery and tragedies desire collective response from the people of frontier region because only Pakistan military cannot handle the critical situation and could not alone ensure sustainable peace, harmony stability and security. email@example.com
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Dated: Thursday, September 18, 2008, Ramadan 17, 1429 A.H.
Pakistan's tribal areas need vast reform
By Ziad Haydar
Friday, September 19, 2008
With a revived Taliban and Al-Qaeda operating out of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the region has assumed center stage in the US-led "war on terror." To secure these areas, Pakistan's civilian government seeks to negotiate with tribesmen to end combat, withdraw the army and only use it as a last resort, while promoting economic development.
Yet this strategy will fail unless Pakistan fully addresses FATA's regressive and shrinking governance system. Political and legal reforms are essential to extend the state's writ, uphold constitutional rights and prevent increasing public support for the Taliban while securing the region in the long-term.
Located along Pakistan's northwestern border with Afghanistan, FATA consists of seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions with more than 3 million people. Exercising limited control over this fiercely independent region, the British Empire used force and financial inducements to keep strategically important roads and passes open while neglecting the remaining areas - a status quo preserved after Pakistan's independence.
Militancy in FATA is attributable to a host of factors including its history as a staging ground for the Soviet resistance, fallout from the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan's maneuvering in Afghanistan, and its sizeable impoverished and illiterate population. Yet the area's flawed governance has also bolstered the Taliban today in three ways:
First, the full writ of the state has never extended across FATA. Inaccessible areas where the state has no presence have existed since the British era, providing haven for criminals and militants.
Second, where a system of administration exists, the Taliban and the army are dismantling it. Since 2004, the Taliban have reportedly killed more than 300 maliks, or tribal leaders. Many maliks now turn to the Taliban, not the central government's agents, for their marching orders. The Taliban now fill the cumulative political vacuum.
Third, where the system is intact, its key features fuel anti-state sentiment. In a 2008 British government-sponsored survey, 73 percent in the region said the state jirga, or assembly, did not provide speedy justice. Because the century-old British frontier regulations were outdated, locals justified turning to Taliban religious courts for harsh yet swift justice.
Fortunately, there is widespread recognition of the need for reforms in FATA among all the major Pakistani political parties, as reflected in their 2008 election manifestos. Yet recognition does not necessarily translate into action.
Five factors are often cited for the failure of reform initiatives: the deteriorating security situation; bureaucratic elements with vested political and financial interests; the central government's fear of losing control of a strategic area; broader political instability in Pakistan; and the tribal people's rejection of change and suspicion of the government.
The Cabinet Committee on Frontier Crimes Regulations Reforms is now holding consultations with its chairman, the federal law minister, promising to submit recommendations to the Cabinet soon.
Key political reforms include extending the Political Parties Act to FATA to bolster moderate political forces with a related petition pending in the Supreme Court. Phasing out the maliki system, the state should establish agency councils that are more accountable and representative than the appointed councils that expired last year. A FATA-wide council should also be created with a clear mandate to provide a forum to articulate interests, debate reforms and vote on issues such as FATA's ultimate status in the federation - something FATA's people should decide.
On legal reforms, appellate court jurisdiction, currently barred in the region, should be extended. Reforms of the British regulations must be pursued including overhauling certain penalties, giving the parties a role in jirga selection, expediting the judicial process, and accommodating requests for Islamic law-based rulings.
These are questions of domestic and international import. For FATA's plight has exacted a tragic toll on Pakistan and elicited a stark warning from the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, that the next terrorist attack on America will likely emerge from these badlands. Part of the answer to these questions is FATA's antiquated and ineffective governance - a glaring example of how a local ill can affect global security.
No amount of anti-terrorism operations or development aid alone can cure this ill. The onus is on Islamabad to take the region into the mainstream of Pakistani life, in conjunction with its people. For one of the Taliban's greatest strengths in FATA today is the government's weakness. That is why the federal government must heed the warning of one of its own senior coalition party members, Afrasiab Khattak, from the North West Frontier Province's ruling Awami National Party: "The question of dismantling militant sanctuaries in FATA and taking short- and long-term measures to open up the areas and integrate it with the rest of the country needs urgent attention if we are to avoid impending catastrophe."