Our rhetoric was that TTP comprised only a few hundred and yet again, we are saying there is no Islamic State here
JUBAIL, SAUDI ARABIA: When the Taliban started arriving in Pakistan’s tribal areas after America ousted them from Afghanistan post-9/11, our rhetoric was that they only numbered a few hundred people and we would be able to tackle them easily. Within a few years, the Taliban killed a number of tribal leaders (Maliks) and were able to create a safe space for themselves, which enabled them to spread their nefarious influence in all parts of the country. This led to the rise of the Pakistani Taliban, which went on to occupy the strategic valley of Swat, and we didn’t act against them until they started knocking at Islamabad’s gates. Is history going to repeat itself?
Again our rhetoric is the same: there is no Islamic State (IS) here. It’s a Middle East-based organisation that has nothing to do with Pakistan. A list of IS-inspired suspected militants was withdrawn within hours of its publication. It’s now on record that the Safoora Goth carnage was carried out by militants having indirect links with the IS. All signs indicate that the IS is no longer a distant bloodthirsty monster. It is here with all of its ideology and sectarian narrowness. Pakistan’s education system, the right-wing media and so-called intellectuals have been working for decades in fostering a regressive, extremist narrative. Now, many educated young men find the IS to be a real game changer for Muslims in a post-colonial world. There is no point in denying the presence of the IS on Pakistani soil. We might not expect to see Iraqi or Syrian militants here, but the group’s ideology is attracting not only sectarian outfits, like the Lashker-e-Jhangvi, but also a number of urbanised, educated young men and women. We should not to bury our head in the sand, but chalk out a strategy to tackle the cancer spreading from seminaries, as well as from modern schools and universities. Let’s hope someone somewhere awakens from deep slumber and, instead of making excuses, does something to stop the incoming flood of educated militants.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2015.
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