It may be a bit of a stretch to say that the militants who have declared war on Pakistan have anything resembling a coherent ideology but the release of an audio recording gives a glimpse into their savage world view. The conversation is apparently between a militant and a religious scholar who works for the army. In it the militant explains how killing civilians in mosques is acceptable if they are hypocrites who do not buy into the militants’ ideology. Coincidentally, this recording was released around the same time that nearly 50 people were killed while offering Friday prayers at a mosque in Jamrud on August 19. The militant in the recording also explains that he sees no distinction between Pakistani and US soldiers and defends the killing of women and children.
This recording should be an eye-opener for those who maintain that the militants are simply fighting the Pakistani state because of its closeness to the US. Rather, they are seeking to violently impose their version of Islam on the entire country. Anyone who does not buy into their beliefs is considered a legitimate target. What is most telling about the recording is its complete disregard for the sanctity of life. The militant welcomes the 2005 earthquake for killing thousands of military personnel but does not pause to consider that it also took hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. If there is one lesson to be learned from this recording, it is that you cannot negotiate with people so blinded by hate that they are willing to murder at will and without thought.
Even more than the militant’s twisted understanding of religion, what is more worrying is that he had this conversation with an employee of the army. We have frequently heard about the radicalisation of the army and here we seem to have proof. Although the scholar frequently challenges and disagrees with the militant, that is not enough. The army needs to explain why one of its employees was in contact with a militant. We are supposed to be at war with the militants, not discussing the finer points of religion with them on their own terms. And the war, we should always remember, has been declared by the militants, not us.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.