By Saeed Qureshi
It would be simply a moronic hope and mere illusion if any government in Pakistan believes that Islamic militants most notably the Taliban factions would agree to lay down arms and turn peaceful citizens. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is seriously contemplating dialogue with Taliban for restoring peace and to erase terrorism that is enormously destructive for a socially peaceful, economically robust, politically democratic and territorially stable Pakistan. By all reckoning such a peace initiative would not materialize. Taliban would not relinquish their militancy no matter how far Pakistan accommodates their conditions.
In history, particularly in Islamic regimes, the renegade religious militants went fighting down but never submitted. Muhammad ibn ʿAbdal-Wahab (1703-1772) the founder of the Wahabi sect became so powerful that he forced his belief to become the state religion that is still in vogue in the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Assassins (1080-1256) rampaged, terrorized and killed with rare abandon, the rulers, the viziers and high ranking government functionaries for almost two centuries till a barbarian, savage army of Mongols annihilated them with a colossal and inexorable use of force.
These are some of the precedents from among a long litany of such horrific episodes not only in the Islamic world but in the Christendom that have held their respective dispensations in ransom. Similarly the Idrisis and the Fatimid and similar other religious movements in Islamic lands prevailed and ruled till they were swept away by more radical and ruthless contenders. These have been raising their ferocious heads in different phases of history and in different lands
The Al-Qaida and Al-shabab and various shades of Taliban are a newborn face of the erstwhile religious fundamentalist forces. The present day religious outfits with stubborn agenda and unflinching will to fight the heathens are the spillover from the past. It is mind boggling to watch that in these times of enlightenment, liberalism, free societies, the human rights, the planet earth is still infested with such bands that want the obscure dogmatic orders to be revived and implemented in entirety.
So the only effective way-out for dealing with the radical militants is to exterminate them physically and debilitate their militancy with full might of the state. If in Pakistan the skirmishes with the Taliban and Al-Qaida continue unabated, there would never be an end or any tangible result coming out of these. The compelling reason is that those who are killed among the insurgents are filled by new cadres and volunteers indoctrinated and motivated by religious zealots and fiery demagogues with a dainty and alluring promise of straight away going to paradise as martyrs.
The taming of hardcore religious bigots and tenacious fighters is a far cry and cannot be attained by solicitation or sweet overtures. The underlying purpose of Taliban and their supporters from the mainstream politico- religious parties is to revive the pristine Islamic caliphate and towards the attainment of this objective they would never compromise or budge.
Even if by a miracle they join hands with the government, they would not abandon their option of falling out with the civilian or democratic government. The induction of Taliban factions into the democratic political culture of Pakistan would always remain like strange and incompatible bedfellow and would backfire.
Pakistan along with other Islamic regimes created a force of universal Islamic crusaders to fight ungodly Russians in rugged Afghanistan as allies of a free and religious Christian world led by the United States. What a hoax it was that while the Islamic countries were arraigned against the Russian with a resounding spirit of Islamic resurgence, the underlying catch was to bring victory of capitalism over communism. While the second purpose has been ideally served, the first one became a lasting millstone around the neck of Pakistan or like a Frankenstein ever ready to swallow its own creator which in this case is Pakistan. Pakistan allowed its land and manpower for the fulfillment of a goal that was extraneous to its national interests. Hence we see the proliferation of terrorism all over Pakistan by Taliban and hardcore religious fanatics.
The ferocious Taliban and their cohorts had virtually occupied Swat valley in 2007. They were driven out with full-fledged military operations in 2007 and 2009. One could gauge the resilience and the systemic way the Taliban broadened their tentacles based on primitive orthodoxy in that marvelous enchanting valley. From Swat valley they were planning to march towards the federal capital of Pakistan Islamabad and terrorize the local population through coercive regimentation. They and their agents forced the people to abide by religious injunctions such as for the ladies to cover their head in the market places.
The dream of crafting a modern egalitarian, Liberal, pluralistic and democratic society in Pakistan is entirely out of sync with the crude model of state envisioned by the obscurantist and the conservative Islamic forces. Islam fundamentally is a progressive religion and can tailor itself with the changing times. The creed and ideologies of fundamentalists and reactionary religious assortments are retrogressive and negate the fruits of modern times such as advancement in technology, universal culture of humanism, emancipation of women folks and a fusion of religion with modernity and so on.
The sectarian and ideological conflicts now rife in the Islamic countries are the formidable hurdles in their progress and getting into the strides of modern nation states. With the advent of a fossilized version of Islam imposed on Pakistan, the country can transform into a medieval state but not the one that is indispensable in the present times of enlightenment and awakening. The conservative Islamic societies are in a state of flux and groping how to explore an identity that serves both their religious obligations and the imperative of the present times.
The Taliban and their ilk would resist, thwart and block, by every conceivable means, all such endeavors that overhaul Pakistan into a modern frame. The fundamental question is whether Pakistan survives as a modern state or succumbs to the dictates of Taliban and fanatic orthodox religious entities. The choice is certainly a modern state with a secular and pluralistic edifice erected on the foundation of an enlightened Islam. It would not be advisable or thinkable to live with a monster like Taliban and then expect to remain unscathed.