Participants at a seminar on extremism in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) maintained that Taliban are not representative of tribesmen, but serve to fulfil the “malicious intent” of forces trying to take control of the region.
The seminar titled “Extremism in Fata, a students’ perspective” was organised by Fata Research Centre (FRC). Headed by FRC Executive Director Saifullah Mahsud, the seminar was attended by students from various universities, including International Islamic, Quaid-e-Azam, National Defence and Iqra universities. FRC Director Mansur Khan and a large number of locals of Fata also attended the seminar.
The speakers said that the Pashtuns are facing a holocaust since 1979 and the world community’s silence on the matter is encouraging the forces with vested interest to label Pashtuns as terrorists and criminals.
The speakers underscored that Pashtuns are the most humble, cultured and hospitable people and do not harbour terrorist or extremist views. “These menaces [of terrorism and extremism] are being imposed on them due to the geo-strategic position of the tribal areas,” a speaker concluded.
FRC Executive Director said that people talk about issues of Fata but they are unaware of the ground realities. “Fata is not exporting terrorists, but terrorists are being exported to Fata,” he said.
He said that the Taliban operating in Pakistan are terrorists and are even not the real Taliban. The real Taliban, he said, are those fighting in Afghanistan against external forces.
The students opined that the root cause of extremism in Fata is the United States’ attempt to counter the invasion of Soviet Forces in Afghanistan by involving Muslim youth of the entire world in the war on the pretext of Jihad.
They said that the “menaces” of drug production, Kalashnikov culture and prostitution in the tribal areas as well as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were the fallouts of the war. They blamed the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) for encouraging war-lords of the time to start cultivation of poppy to manufacture heroin.
Elaborating on the causes of extremism, the students said that the people, particular the youth of the tribal areas, were forced to adopt the path of extremism as they were deprived of education, job opportunities, and economic activities, and all the while were barred from utilising their capacities productively.
The speakers observed that before talking on the issue of extremism, it is imperative to understand the history, culture and traditions of the area. They also called for projecting the “real soft image and traditions” of Fata to the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2012.