In the last two decades Pakistan has been grappling with recurrent political instability, endemic terrorism and sectarian strife. Besides all of that, the economy has not been doing well and climatic conditions were not good at all, either.
In addition, the state has been under constant pressure to put an end to the climate of the cold war with its powerful neighbor India and allow the Americans to continue their successful and deadly drone war on the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban alike. If these drone strikes have been satisfactory to American global politics, however they have been costly in human loss and economic perdition for Pakistan, Taliban consider that their country has allied itself with the enemy of Islam: America. So, as the tribal adage goes for them: the friend of my enemy is my enemy. As such, for Taliban, the state is bowing to the pressure of America and by so doing is betraying Pakistan and most importantly Islam. Furthermore, emboldened by the incremental military success of Afghan Taliban on American and NATO forces, they are tempted to try to oust the democratically elected government and set up instead a theocracy similar to that of Iran in format but not in belief. But, the Pakistani Taliban’s grand design for their country is marred by their military weakness and lack of support from the outside world and that is why they express their anger and dismay by acts of terrorism. What they are not aware of, though, is that their naked terror is making the whole world stand in a united front against them and believe that they are a threat that should be dealt with harshly to put an end to their inhuman and savage acts of terrorism.
Why attack children?
Pakistani Taliban by attacking the school in Peshawar where children of the military study and killing in cold blood 145 people including 132 kids on December 16, 2014 has committed an act of pure madness and political hara- kiri. As a result, even the last people who stood by their cause, if any, have by now defected, to the other side. To add salt to injury, they have justified their terror by taking revenge on the military. Islam does not accept revenge and does not allow killing people for the sake of terror. The following verse of the Holy Koran is clear on inflicting any kind of harm on innocent people or taking their lives: “… take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that you may learn wisdom” (6:151) and this is further stressed in the verse given here below: “… that if anyone killed a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land” (5:32) and also in the hadith that follows:
“Whoever kills a mu’ahid [non-combatant, innocent non-Muslims] will not smell the scent of paradise …” (Bukhari). So, the Taliban certainly do not have any religious justification for the horrendous mass killing of the innocent students. Their only left justification is to make the government feel the pain of loss and think twice about continuing their anti-terror campaign in the tribal areas. However, the terrorist act of this group has an adverse effect, the government is reestablishing the death sentence for terrorists, and the whole world is standing by Pakistan and especially its archenemy India that has, also, suffered tremendously from Islamic terrorism. Symbolically, Indian students in a school were shown standing in formation in the schoolyard with gags on their mouths: a very moving show of solidarity from the Indian people and their government. Hopefully, this will ultimately result in the two countries putting aside their feuds and uniting their intelligence operations to fight Islamic terrorism aptly and efficiently. For the journalist Mira Sethi, this “mini 9/11” will, hopefully, put an end to the Pakistani state denial of Taliban’s terrorism:
The massacre has sent a wave of horror across the country. For too long Pakistanis have lived in a state of denial about the presence of terror in their midst. When, in January and February 2013, twin bombings killed at least 180 Shiite Hazaras in Balochistan, the country’s response was: This is the unfortunate targeting of a minority group. When, in May 2010, an Ahmadi mosque was blown up in Lahore, killing around a hundred people, the response was: This is the unfortunate targeting of a minority group. When, in October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the face, the response was: This is the unfortunate targeting of a brazen schoolgirl. (She was widely labeled a C.I.A. agent.) Now, 132 innocent schoolchildren have been murdered. Will we find a way to “fit” this into a narrative, too? »
Did Pakistani Taliban know that this horrid act of terrorism would backfire on them and put them on the hit list of the whole world? It does not seem they did calculate the cost of this action. They asserted that they instructed the attackers not to kill small children but the terrorist did not comply by this order. Children are children whether they are aged 7 or 12. In addition, this shows quite clearly that the military faction of this terrorist organization has a big problem of military discipline, which means that armed Taliban can turn their lethal weapons against anybody, including their own, if in rage. This horrid act shows, also, clearly that Pakistani Taliban are weak on paying strategies and that their spectacular acts are more tribal revenge than political acts. So, either they do not have able theorists and strategists to state clearly their political platform away from faith and tribalism. If it is the case, then they are no more than a bunch of tribal marauders that can be dealt with efficiently through a military strategic action and political timed cooptation to have the moderate leaders take the helm of the organization to turn it in a political party demanding the government to satisfy their urgent demands.
No for education
When the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was in the Hira grotto the Angel Gabriel revealed to him the message of Islam by spurring him to read. He kept answering that he is illiterate and cannot read. But, the angel kept the pressure and Muhammad became literate and this is considered his miracle:
“Read in the name of thy Lord,
Who has created,
He has created man from a clot,
Read and thy Lord is the most generous,
Who has taught man with the Qalam (pen),
He has taught man what he knew not”.
In opposition to this important directive of the Muslim religion, Pakistani Taliban seem to show, through their actions, that they are against education because the education offered in Pakistan is secular, which is not the case at all. Actually, schools in Pakistan do offer religious education alongside universal education and in fact, most Islamic countries do the same, including Saudi Arabia, the land where Islam started, in the first place, almost thirteen centuries ago. Pakistani Taliban have proved that they are just against open education because it encourages people to acquire skills of discernment, critical thinking and questioning of acts and thought. What they want, instead, is Taliban-type of education. The word Taliban is the plural for of the Arabic word talib, which means knowledge seeker or student. Most of the Taliban are formed in tribal religious lodges where they are taught mechanically Koran, Sunnah and religious edicts. The most important aspect of this education is memorization. The students are not taught debate, open discussion and argumentation.
They are brainwashed into becoming soldiers and eventually martyrs. So, when they graduate they are some sort of religious automats ready to be set into motion. In Afghanistan, when Taliban reached maturation, they became an incredible fighting force and an unstoppable killing machine and they swept through the country to power, and whence in power they put in action a tribal Islam that is a poor copy of real Islam. It is ironical and almost absurd that the once students in Koran schools attack and kill other students. Actually, this only means one thing that probably Taliban are not happy about their education and are jealous of those in secular education or maybe they have been brainwashed into considering this form of education irreligious and illicit haram because it does not incorporate religion as the main learning matter. The Taliban not only have a distaste for secular education but probably in their interpretation of religion, women are not to be educated at all. A proof of this is their attack of the young Malala Yousafzai, whose courage and determination is celebrated today by granting her a Nobel Peace prize alongside an Indian activist. In the following communique The Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee points out the reasons for this prize to the two education activists:
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Children must go to school and not be financially exploited. In the poor countries of the world, 60% of the present population is under 25 years of age. It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected. In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation. Taliban, who are from the Pashtun tribes, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, consider women as man’s private property to be kept jealously at home, away from the inquisitive gazes of other men. To go out in public, the men make their wives, sisters, adolescent daughters were a burka, a total veil, and head cover. And not only that, if they can, they would try to build their abodes on top of hills away from other houses with tiny windows placed high up.
They are against the education of women because it instills in their minds the sense of independence and critical thinking which are considered total no nos in their tribal traditions. Women in tribal Pakistan and in Afghanistan are considered a symbol of prestige and dignity. People who have the four wives prescribed by the shari’a law are considered pious, virile and prestigious within the society. In addition, such a society compels the males in case of female adultery to kill their wives to wash their honor, if they cannot do it; a male of the in-laws will do it instead. These honor crimes are considered a must for manhood in this tribal environment. When Taliban took control of Afghanistan, one of their first actions was to make the burka compulsory and outlaw women’s education and work on the grounds of their austere interpretation of Islam.
It is a well-known fact that Islam entered Asia through trade and not the sword. Countries like Bangladesh, Maldives, India, Malaysia and Indonesia adopted a moderate Islam that is very open and allowing, whereas mountainous countries have adopted the religion but pasted on top of it their tribal practice and beliefs and the result is a religion bent to legitimize tribal culture. A case in point, Islam outlaws drugs totally, because they are harmful to health, but because tribal Pakistan and Afghanistan make money of such illicit business, Taliban have allowed such practice and have even encouraged it. Taliban believe deep down that their version of Islam is the rightful religion and want to spread their Islam by persuasion targhib or pressure and terror tarhib to the majority of the country. Given that their persuasion does not bear any fruit, they resort to violence. The Islam of Taliban is in many ways nothing but the tribal culture of the Taliban both in Pakistan and Afghanistan made legitimate through its incorporation in the Islamic religion, but this religion does not condone such unacceptable tribal practices and behaviors like:
- Shameful exploitation of women;
- Disallowing women empowerment through education;
- Encouragement of culture of revenge;
- Use of violence; Assassination, murder and life taking, and Terror
Therefore, for Islam, Taliban’s behavior, beliefs and actions are condemnable and very irreligious. Islam is a religion of peace and goodwill and encourages the resolution of problems and conflicts through dialogue and not terror and assassination. By their horrendous act, the Taliban excommunicate themselves from the ummah of Islam and the world community, at the same time.
Author: Dr Mohamed Chtatou