Sunday, February 28, 2010

Taliban’s Fighting Prowess is Waning

February 20, 2010
Taliban’s Fighting Prowess is Waning
By Saeed Qureshi

The two pronged push from the Pakistan’s army in South Waziristan and the other from the coalition troops in Marja are the stunning developments in the prolonged war being waged against Taliban on both sides of the Durand line. Pakistan army, at the cost of, the considerable number of casualties has finally been able to push the tenacious yet disorganized bands of Taliban out of the thus perceived “no go areas” for centuries. The capture of the second in command of the Taliban leadership Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi betokens the fact that Taliban were in disarray and there monolithic and centralized command for fighting is waning.
The lately launched military offensive in Marja in Afghanistan's Helmand Province is the boldest military undertaking that the coalition forces have embarked upon. If some how these Taliban strongholds can be cleared of the insurgents, then NATO would have justified its presence in Afghanistan and to claim, though belatedly, some credit and kudos for cutting across a visibly looking impossible feat.

One might recall that in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the soil of America on September 11, 2001, the American led NATO coalition forces entered Afghanistan, and scored quick and decisive victories over Taliban and their cohort fighters from across the Islamic countries. The orthodox Islamic fanatics in Afghanistan were scattered and scores of them brought over to American and lodged in the Guantanamo prison. Even at that time when the Taliban were at the pinnacle of their brute power, they did not stand their ground in face of direct combats with the combined forces including the Northern Alliance and instead fled from the combat zones, one after another.
But in the intervening years, they took refuge in the border tribal areas of Pakistan where the top al-Qaida leadership was also maintaning their presence. There has been relative calm after the rout of Taliban. Later their recouped their strength and regrouped with the fresh recruits and the poppy money they were at liberty to collect through drug trafficking in various ways.
These Taliban fighters and their commanders were never an organized or well trained army that could have carried their insurgency for years together. However, they had fallen back upon the tactics of ambushes and skirmishes which kept their ferocious image of tenacious and intrepid fighting force somehow intact.
What the people of Afghanistan dreaded of Taliban was not their zeal for enforcement of fundamental Islamic Shariah but the way they enforced it. This reprehensible and gruesome strategy they also employed in Swat, Dir, Mardan and Malakand, where they held their religious sway for a few months. Lately they switched their activities in South Waziristan The kind of Islam they preach and practice is a travesty of the pristine teachings and dogmas of Islam which are absolutely merciful and tolerant.
The Taliban interpreted Islam by putting their entire emphasis and energies on striking fear for complete and docile submission from the people of those remote areas otherwise practicing conservative Islam. However, the Taliban’s Islam was not conservative but a distortion of even conservative or orthodox Islam. The people were disenchanted with Taliban’s brutal Islamic fervor, which they could not express openly as those who did, their dead bodies were hung on lampposts or at the square the next day. While the chapter of enforcing the Taliban’s pagan brand of Islam is closed in Pakistan, it can be hoped that it would also be cast away from Afghanistan once and for all.
The Muslim societies have to embrace the imperatives of the modern societies and allow practicing of any religion without any bars and restrictions. I can imagine and it is my personal observation that the Muslims in Europe and particularly United States perform and observe their religious obligations with absolute peace and liberty that is even unheard of in such leading Islamic countries as Saudi Arabia where a particular code of Islam is in vogue. Here in the United States, there are countless mosques small and big, in every city where the Muslim faithful converge five times a day and for juma prayers and for festive religious congregations like Eid without any fear or bias or discrimination.
The point that I am trying to make is that the Islamic nations and countries are plagued with menace of sectarianism and sub sectarianism and denominations that had led to schisms in Islam and also among their followers. We have seen during the last several years’ worshippers killed in the mosques and worshipping places by the colliding sects out of sheer religious and ideological vendettas. If this is Islam then better we say adieu to that. But essentially Islam shuns sectarianism because it has one god, one prophet, one holy book and one destination for prayers. Beyond that it is all muck created by the theologians and interpreters of Islamic injunctions. Taliban’s Islamic cult is a refurbished phenomenon that finds it glimpses, among a series of others, in the tyrannical sway of the assassins (1090-1256) and the Sunni fanatical dynasty of Almoravides and ultra Shia Islamic empires of Idrisis and the Fatimid. The 18th century Wahabi fanatic Islamic revival movement is now more distinctly reoriented in Yemen, Sudan and Somalia. Shiites too are present in minority in these leading states adhering to their faith. Saudi Arabia and Iran are the two rival ideological Islamic states that project and profess respectively the Wahabism and Shia faith in their fanatic forms.
The greatest danger to pristine unity, purity and sublimity of Islam has come from ideological groups that have hijacked Islam for their political, tribal and similar vested interests. So Taliban is a passing show and a dying creed that has to go because its philosophy is out of sync even with the moderate religious societies in the Islamic world.
Finally, if the United States and the NATO are going to stay in Afghanistan for oil and natural resources then better they revise their plans. The wisest policy should be that once they outflank Taliban they should pack up and go. Of course they can retain their experts and technocrats for rebuilding the grievously mauled and colossally pillaged Afghanistan but to establish garrison of standing army in Afghanistan would be viewed as an occupation army. And in all likelihood there would be renewed resistance against the occupation forces which would be from the well organized, enlightened, moderate patriots and such insurgents who will fight for emancipation and not for implementation of moribund religious codes. Would United States and their coalition partners still like to hang on in Afghanistan, emitting the foul impression that they had not entered this region to destroy terrorism but to occupy it as a part of the new world order- a pseudo name for neo-colonialism?

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