The nation is bleeding with the wounds inflicted by the Deobandi Taliban but our leaders are indifferent and just want to enjoy their stay in power, fill their coffers and make this unfortunate nation even more miserable and helpless. It seems that besides losing their sense of direction our leadership has lost even its sense of honour and, after the loss of so many innocent lives, it is still harping on about negotiations with the Taliban as a solution for all our problems. The opposition parties are equal partners in this policy of appeasement, what to talk about right-wing parties who have always acted as apologists of the Taliban. Even parties like the MQM, PPP and ANP were a part of that shameful consensus of the so-called All Parties Conference (APC) where it was agreed that negotiations would be given a chance. Thus a political legitimacy was granted to the worst enemy the state of Pakistan has ever faced.
There is no doubt that this lily-livered approach has further emboldened the Deobandi Taliban. Now headed by the ruthless and ferocious Mullah Fazlullah, they are on a killing spree. The bud, which was not nipped in the tribal areas, has now spread as a cancer to every important city in Pakistan, including Karachi where they made a point to kill polio workers in every anti-polio campaign to show the world how weakened the state has become that it cannot even guarantee a risk-free polio campaign.
It should be clear to our government and security establishment that there are only two options. First is to surrender before the Taliban and give them the reins of the state to escape from this deadly orgy of destruction, while the other is to fight and resist the Taliban at every stage until they are decisively defeated as has been done by the Sri Lankan government in their fight against the Tamil Tigers. The third option, which is being touted as negotiations, is simply no option at all as it would give the Taliban more time to regroup themselves, get released some of their convicted comrades who are in jail and inflict more wounds on the state as is being done now.
Definitely, fighting against the Taliban will not be a bed of roses. It will be a bloody and long drawn out struggle but there is no way out if we want to save the existence of Pakistan as a modern Islamic democracy. The first step in the war against the Deobandi Taliban is to mobilise the nation against them. The Deobandi Taliban’s strong point is their so-called religiosity. An effective media campaign should be launched to expose their real faces and remind the nation of the horrid crimes they have committed against the Pakistani state. In this regard, a recent convention hosted jointly by Sunni and Shia leaders in Islamabad was a very good initiative, as for the first time religious figures of the major Islamic sects have come out against the Taliban’s ideology and condemned them in clear terms. After the initiative taken by these Sunni and Shia leaders, it is now the turn of the ulema (clerics) belonging to the Deobandi school of thought to come out against the Deobandi Taliban in clear terms. The nearest parallel to the Taliban in Islamic history was the Kharji movement, which used to consider everybody, including the fourth rightly guided Caliph, kaafir (infidels). Ali tolerated their opposition till the time they were peaceful but when they resorted to violence and started killing innocent citizens who were not subscribing to their ideology, Ali eliminated most of them decisively in the battle of Neharvan. It is the need of the hour for the nation not to view them as sacred religious figures but realise their criminality and treat them in the same way.
Secondly, decisive surgical operations should be carried out in the areas where they have strongholds. With the help of modern satellite technology it would not be very difficult to trace their hideouts. The army and air force should be employed to inflict maximum damage to them so that their training camps can be eliminated. The government may consider strengthening its border controls by building walls along the Pak-Afghan border and also increase border posts between the tribal and settled areas so that infiltration of terrorists as well as arms and ammunition can be stopped in the settled areas of Pakistan.
Third, the state should lift the voluntary moratorium on the death penalty and should not hesitate in sending the condemned persons belonging to the Deobandi TTP and other affiliates to the gallows. The government should make it clear that whenever any big terrorist activity happens, at least five convicted persons belonging to banned outfits will be hanged. This strategy was employed very successfully by the Iranian government at one time.
Fourth, a special criminal justice system needs to be constituted to tackle this menace of terrorism. As the country is fighting its war of survival we have to drink from the poisoned cup and constitute special military tribunals that will be tasked to decide a case within 14 days on a day-to-day basis. Alternatively, we need to have the concept of anonymous judges and anonymous witnesses, and without delving into the niceties of criminal procedural law, need to concentrate more on circumstantial evidence. Until and unless our judicial system is able to punish the terrorists, the audacity of their attacks will increase as the terrorists are facing no deterrence for their crimes.
Finally, for eliminating terrorism we need to reduce extremism and identify the mindset that is promoting Talibanisation. It is not created in a vacuum but is intellectually supported by the religious scholars who give these foot soldiers intellectual justification and religious motivation to carry out their crimes. It is the takfeeri (declaring someone an infidel) mindset, which promotes religious militancy. The state needs to identify all the so-called ulema who are the intellectual mentors and spiritual fathers of the Deobandi Taliban. They should be given two options: mend their ways or be allowed to settle in the country from where they take these inspirations. If they prefer to live in Pakistan, they should be banished from public life.
Though the above suggestions may seem to be quite ambitious and for some against the norms of human rights and democracy, we are confronted with demons, the enemy who has no moral values and has no value for human life. The enemy has become a bloodsucking monster. There is no option but to deal ruthlessly with him.