There are numerous Pakistanis who are convinced that the Taliban rule in Afghanistan was the best that the country had ever seen. They say that there was peace in Afghanistan and people could travel wherever they wanted to inside it, that there was no theft, no rape, no looting and generally law and order was very good. There is, however, another segment of society, which is of the opinion that religion was misinterpreted and misused by the Taliban when they came to power in Afghanistan.
However, these are issues that are on the minds not only of Muslims. For instance, surveys suggest that in present-day America, as much as 45 per cent of its Christian population believes that Earth is less than 10,000 years old. Similarly, the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy, ordains that the punishment of stoning until death is for disobedient sons, non-virgin girls and adulterers. Of course, this command is no longer practiced by Jews.
Now back to the Taliban. When they ruled Afghanistan, they did not enact any law which was not in accordance with the primary sources of their faith. They enforced laws taken from the Holy Quran, Ahadith, Sunni jurisprudence and fatwas of renowned Islamic scholars. They imposed restrictions on women and these included a total ban on activities outside the home and the requirement that they wear a long body-covering burqa when outside. Not only this, they were forbidden from dealing with shopkeepers, receiving education, treatment by male doctors, shaking hands with non-mehram men, playing sports, wearing high-heel shoes, or riding bicycles or motorcycles. They were also prohibited from going on a walk outside the house, even with a mehram, and they could not go to a male tailor, appear in the balconies of their homes, or travel in transport with males. Of course, there were other restrictions as well, and these included listening to music, photography, watching TV, using the internet — and all of these were off limits to ALL Afghans. Men were forbidden from shaving their beards and were required to wear headgear like the Taliban. Of course, not all these laws were invented by the Taliban, and in fact most were adopted from various Islamic sources, mostly from the Hanafi school of thought.
Those who support the Taliban also think that when the Americans leave, the Taliban will give up their arms and return to a normal peaceful life. They should see a recent video uploaded on YouTube. It is titled “Takfiri Molvi” () and shows a Pakistani Taliban leader calling the Quaid-i-Azam ‘Kafir-i-Azam’. This man also says that army troops have been declared apostates; he calls the Imam of the Kaaba “gumrah” and justifies kidnapping for ransom by saying that this is allowed under jihad. He refers to a kidnapped person as “aseer-e-ghaneemat”. Lootings of banks is also permitted, by calling the loot as “mal-e-ghaneemat” and the killing of women and children is justified by saying that this happens during a war.
The Taliban leader then goes on to call most Pakistanis “apostates” and hence this justifies their killing as a religious obligation. He says quite clearly that the Taliban will continue their jihad till the enforcement of Shariah in Pakistan and will kill all those who oppose them.
The Taliban’s agenda has been clearly spelt out in this video. They want to impose Shariah in this country, through the use of force. And they are armed, trained and capable of accomplishing this mission, if they have support from the people. They will neither lay down arms nor end their terrorist activities, even with the withdrawal of US forces and people who think that they will are naïve or living in a state of denial.
So to consider them as “our own people” and to initiate dialogue with them is not going to stop them from carrying on with their activities. I would wish good luck to all those who want to negotiate peace with the likes of Mullah Fazlullah, Hakeemullah Mehsud, Faqir Muhammad, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Qari Hussian and others.
And as for those media anchors who consider the Taliban important for lasting peace in Afghanistan, why don’t they consider allowing the Taliban to set up a government in, say, Karachi?
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2011.