On being considered a Taliban...

Security forces are quick to judge Pashtuns as Taliban - throughout Pakistan this stereotypical thinking persists.

Sohail Khattak December 12, 2010
Earlier this week,  Rangers personnel cordoned off Kunwari Colony, a Pashtun-dominated area in Manghopir, Karachi. The area is inhabited mostly by people belonging to the Mehsud tribe that hails mainly from Waziristan.

The Rangers banned the exit of all and sundry from the colony with the help of police. They then started a door-to-door operation arresting anyone they found to be suspect; tied their hands, covered their faces and put them into trucks.

More than 1,500 were booked and shifted to undisclosed places. Most of them are daily wage labourers and road-side vendors who sell scrap items or fruits. Later some were released after investigation but many are still missing.

According to reports, it is allegedly a reaction from the paramilitary force on their apparent insult in Sultanabad when a man named Zianullah Mehsud quarrelled with their personnel and snatched a rifle off one, after which Rangers cordoned off the area and booked dozens of Pashtuns.

The Awami National Party (ANP) strongly condemned the action and called a press conference at midnight and demanded immediate release of their activists, threatening the government with the worst possible consequences.

But the ANP who call themselves the custodians of Pashtun rights are now silent spectators on the operation.

When I heard about the operation, I thought that if I was a resident of Manghopir or Kunwari Colony, they would have certainly booked me if failed to prove my identity to them, despite the fact that I am a Pakistani citizen.

I think a better idea would be for security personnel to cordon off a village and then search it for terrorists and then block  another village and so on.

Throughout the country there is a stereotypical thinking that all Pashtuns, particularly those belonging to the tribal areas, are terrorists or Taliban. Most of the detainees were Mehsud clansmen who are facing drone attacks in their own homeland. The security agencies spend millions on intelligence and spies and they have well established networks. They could have directly raided the houses of terrorists living in those areas. Or were all of the residents Taliban? I wonder.

Sohail Khattak
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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