Violence at Peak in Pakistan; Military Operation and the Expected Counter-Insurgency

June 13–Taliban violence is at peak in Pakistan nowadays. Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for the attacks on two mosques on Friday killing about a dozen people including the top Anti-Taliban religious scholar, Dr. Sarfaraz Ahmed Naeemi. Despite Taliban’s claim, Jamaat Islami, an extremist-minded religious political party in Pakistan, said the American forces in Afghanistan are responsible for Dr. Sarfaraz Naeemi’s tragedy. Though seems strange despite Taliban claim of having killed Dr. Naeemi because he opposed suicide attacks, it is ridiculous statement by Syed Munawar Hassan of Jamaat Islami. It also depicts a mindset of ill-psychology firing in the air and blaming nonsense for everything that go wrong. They condemn all the violent incidents in Pakistan, but never criticize Taliban terrorists. Jamaat Islami also termed Dr. Sarfaraz’s murder a national tragedy for Pakistan, but did not say a word of condemnation to Taliban for claiming responsibility to have killed Dr. Naeemi. Jamaat Islami, like some other religious parties in Pakistan including Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam, has always been avoiding to condemn Taliban for their violence. JI’s manifesto says, “Jamaat believes that war and organized violence flows from man’s lack of complete allegiance to God Almighty as a supreme Creator.” What a double-standard. Contrary to what the religious group says as part of its foundation goal, it practices opposite. The attitude of double-standard so-called islamic political parties like Jamaat Islami shows whether they support Taliban militants or they are afraid of their fate on opposing Taliban. Jamaat’s history shows it has been involved in violent activities. Its sister-parties actively work in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Bangladesh Jamaat Islami has been involved in many terrorist activities in that country. Other than that the Pakistan-based Jamaat has been having an ideological affiliation with the terrorist-declared Muslim Brotherhood (Akhwanul Muslimeen). In Afghanistan, they had been having close contacts with the militant Hezb-e-Islami of Hekmatyar. JI has been supporting Hezb-e-Islami financially during its initial years. The leaders of Jamaat have been favorite of Tehran. Former Jamaat Islami Chief, Qazi Hussain Ahmed used to visit Tehran several times for different conferences and meetings.

The role of religious political parties in Pakistan has been crucial in the time of crisis when Pakistan Army is fighting Taliban terrorists in the tribal regions of that country. Dr. Sarfaraz Naeemi was the only top moderate religious leader who openly opposed Taliban, condemned them for violence and termed suicide attack as Haram. His followers of Ahl-e-Sunat had been organizing protest rallies against Taliban in different cities of Pakistan. In an interview he had said “Taliban is a stigma on the name of Islam”. His daring and bold initiative of organizing an alliance of 21 Anti-Taliban religious parties at last resulted at the cost of his life. He was the first and only religious leader to support the Pakistani military operation against Taliban and said it should be continued till the tribal regions are not cleared of Taliban militants.

Due to the military operation in Malakand Division, Taliban militants have rapidly increased their attacks on Pakistani security forces and public places. The suicide bombing of Pearl Continental Hotel on Wednesday, that killed over 25 people and injured over 50, was the fourth attack during the first 10 days of the month of June. Yesterday’s twin attacks in Lahore and Noshehra increases the series of violence that is peaking after the military operation. Violent attacks in June have killed about 85 people including yesterday’s victims. In May seven suicide attacks were carried by suicide bombers in different cities of Pakistan killing about 40 people. The rise in violence by Taliban is to pressurize the Government of Pakistan to halt the military operation in Malakand.

Pakistani President Zardari addressing his nation on Friday night announced to establish a military base (cantonment) in Swat. The President also announced an increase in the pay of soldiers fighting the Taliban. He said the war against Taliban is for existence and survival of Pakistan and that the military operation would continue till a success. It was a clear message to Pakistanis that the war on Taliban is not West’s war, but a war for the survival of Pakistan, and at our side, for Afghanistan. The decision of Pakistani Government to establish a military base in Swat is a good initiative for long-term military objectives in tribal safe havens of Al-Qaeda and Taliban. The on-going military operation may end Taliban control over their strongholds in Malakand, but counter-insurgency is inevitable. Taliban once being defeated may go underground form some months, but will make a comeback with guerrilla warfare of suicide attacks and bombings. Pakistan army, basically trained for ground-battle may face tough times in confronting Taliban fighters in the mountainous tribal regions. The consecutive suicide attacks by Taliban are increasing anger among common Pakistanis. After the murder of Dr. Sarfaraz Naeemi, thousands of people gathered in front of the mosque, where he was attacked, and chanted “death to Taliban”. Pakistani media is playing the vital role in setting public opinion against Taliban. At this crucial time, some influential religious political leaders are playing double-standard. Jamaat Islami has never condemned Taliban for their violent attacks; rather it has been making fake, rubbish and senseless statements. Pakistani media has to expose these religious groups in front of common people. Public isolation of Taliban is the most important factor of winning the war against militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Allied forces and the Government in Afghanistan should also learn a lesson of “information war for winning hearts and minds” from Malakand Operation.

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