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The onward march of Pakistan’s Taliban

April 27, 2009
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The Taliban want Pakistan and they might succeed in their intentions unless the Pakistani Army manages to push them back. The latest news is that the Pakistani army is trying to stop the Taliban. Some feel that the Army could use this opportunity to stage a coup. People will not protest much because the Army is preferable to the Taliban. And then there are those who feel that the Taliban is too small to pose a threat to Pakistan, like the Director-General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Athar Abbas. Whatever the truth, and whatever happens, few of us believe that the present democratic government of Pakistan is going to survive for long. After all, large tracts of Pakistani land have already been given away to an enemy which Pakistan at one time did not consider an enemy.

Here is an indication of the capitulation of the Zardari government.

In eight short months since coming to office, President Asif Ali Zardari has managed to cede large parcels of Pakistan’s land to the Taliban; to release Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the most dangerous nuclear proliferators in history; and to allow publicly funded gatherings of Pakistan’s equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan in Punjab government buildings.

That’s not all. Giving away the Swat valley to the Taliban wasn’t enough. Now the Pakistani government seems to be helpless as the Taliban advance into Buner which is near Islamabad. When the world protested at this entry into Buner, there was a pretense of retreat. As it says here:

In Washington officials dubbed the exercise [of the Taliban retreating from Buner] as meaningless…the Taliban have left behind recruiters to train a homegrown corps of Islamic fighters.

So who is surprised? Not the United States. Not India. And is Pakistan’s civilian government surprised at the turn of events? Is Pakistan really taken aback that the Taliban now wants to own Pakistan?

The latest news is that the Pakistani government is trying to drive away the Taliban, even from Swat. Can we believe that this for real?

The Pakistani government’s imaginary enemy is India
If elements in the Pakistani government/Army supported and encouraged the Taliban (to create violence in other countries) does this mean that they actually believed that the Taliban would never want to take over Pakistan? Surely they knew that the Taliban would want a country.

It looks like the Pakistani government clung (still clings?) to the naive belief that India was their main enemy. What else can one call it but naive when history has shown that all the three times that there was a war between India and Pakistan, it was Pakistan which initiated it? The 1965 war, the 1971 war and the third war, in Kargil. The Kargil war was fought in the most cowardly manner because Pakistani soldiers pretended to be mujaheddin when they infiltrated into India. Why just wars, the whole world knows that elements in successive Pakistani governments have allowed terrorists to be trained in Pakistan and allowed them to launch attacks in other countries, particularly India. So although it is in Pakistan’s face, that India is not the aggressor, that they are, the Pakistani government still sees India as a threat?

The United States has started telling Pakistan that to see India as a major threat is stupid:

Secretary Clinton also re-iterated what has become a virtual mantra in Washington in recent weeks: Repeated advice to Pakistan that it is not India, but Islamabad’s own home-grown terrorism that posed an existential threat to it.

Some people and countries might feel that Clinton is over-reacting, that Taliban is not as great a threat as is being perceived, but where is the evidence of that on the ground? Why has the Taliban managed to bring Pakistan to its knees…every week there are bombings in Pakistan. Bombings which have nothing to do with India. How can the Taliban not be a greater threat than India?

Pakistan instead desperately tries to blame India, had even denied its own role in the Mumbai terror attacks, and has gone as far as to concoct far-fetched theories about India being in cahoots with the Taliban. For example, Taliban rebels who were caught and found uncircumcised were promptly dubbed as Indian agents! Thankfully the Pakistani establishment has now put this absurdity behind them because it has now been revealed that not everybody from the Pashtun tribes in Waziristan (from where many of the Tehreek-e-Taliban or Pakistani Taliban come from) have been circumcised. What a joke.

Why should the Pakistan government rely on this type of evidence in the first place? Why should they keep denying that terrorists camps exist on its territory? It’s clear that they want to make a show of blaming India to divert their own people’s attention from the real threat – the Taliban. After all can they face the people of Pakistan if they admit that the Taliban are doing this, and that elements from their own establishment are involved?

And the denial and the lies are also used to try and confuse the rest of the world. But does the Pakistani government think that the U.S. has no intelligence? Do they imagine that the U.S. will stop bombing Pakistan if the Pakistani government says it’s not my fault? This stupid strategy hasn’t helped Pakistan, unless ofcourse this is the very intention of some elements in the Pakistani establishment (say the Army) – to let the Taliban grow into a real threat so that it paves the way for an Army take-over.

Is Pakistan jealous?
And there also seems to be some sort of an ego issue, as Pakistan is hell bent on having as many troops as India on the Indo-Pak border. India needs the troops there, not Pakistan. We need it because of the continuous infiltration by Pakistani terrorists. But despite knowing that India is not going to send terrorists into Pak, despite knowing that India isn’t going going to attack, has in fact never attacked Pakistan in its history, Pakistan wants to keep loads of its troops there on the Indo-Pak border instead of letting them fight the Taliban. It makes sense to divert the troops to fight the real enemy. But either it’s an  ego issue, some sort of posturing for its public, or a grand plan. Who knows.

Take Pakistan’s attitude towards India’s help to Afghanistan:

To Islamabad’s chagrin, India, with Washington’s full support, has emerged as a key provider of economic aid and military training to the US-imposed Afghan government. In a statement that could only have enraged the Pakistani elite Clinton asserted Wednesday that India has a pivotal role to play in assisting the US in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Here’s more of what the Americans have to say:

India has given Afghanistan about USD 1 billion in assistance. They’re rebuilding the parliament building, they’ve built a very useful road in the southwestern part of the country leading down towards Iran. They’re training agricultural experts, they’re giving scholarships. The Indians have published a pamphlet on what they’re doing. I don’t think that should be cause of concern for Pakistan.

If the Pakistani government wants to be nation builder in Afghanistan, they need to donate, not ask for donations and certainly they need to get out of their destruction mode. They are not a donor nation, and they also harbour terrorists. So instead of pulling India down they should focus on improving their economy and strengthening their civilian government. And kicking the Taliban out is the first step because the Taliban will never let Pakistan develop economically…the Taliban doesn’t need a thriving economy. They thrive on the blood money from drugs instead, and also find it fairly easy to beg for donations by playing the Islam card. Apparently all they have to do to dupe ordinary people into donating is talk about the “superpower which is like an uncontrolled elephant aiming to crush” Muslims under its feet. The Taliban paints itself as “the vanguard of Islam…”

The Taliban’s major cash source is is kidnapping and yes they also kidnap Muslims. And let’s not forget extortion. Earlier this month they took millions from the Sikhs in Pakistan as a “tax” for living in their own country.

Pakistan now probably knows that it made the biggest mistake of its existence by showing sympathy to the Taliban just because they promised to send killers into the world for various “causes”. The means never justifies the ends. Indira Gandhi and India paid for it by supporting Bhindranwale (against the erstwhile Punjab government), the United States is paying for it because they initially encouraged the Taliban to get the Russians out of Afghanistan and now it’s Pakistan which is paying a price, and a tragic one. The means never justifies the ends. Violent means make a cause dirty and unacceptable and evil. And there is always a price to pay. It’s the law of nature.

Read all posts on Pakistan.

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47 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2009 7:56 pm

    Very well researched. But I will have to disagree about 1971. From what I understand(which is not a lot), it seems like India should have stayed out of East Pakistan(although, I don’t know how we could have tackled the refugee issue without intervening)!

  2. April 27, 2009 8:49 pm

    @ Nita : Interesting take. Once Swat was home to people like Padmasambhava and now its home to the Taliban. How times have changed. Hmmmm. However the good thing is nothing ever remains the same, people will go through changes, so will countries. So you have the Taliban, battle hardened and convinced that they can endure and survive and on the other hand you have a “System”. If history has taught us anything, it is this states fail against such type of warfare. Whether it is Cuba or Congo. Whether it is China or Vietnam. When there are huge economic differences and when the normal joe or abdul on the street picks up the AK the very foundations of the state will shake. America knows this that is why they are scared. If Pakistan had ended the landlord system and instituted economic reforms years ago we would never have seen this situation. Now you have a mess. I think if the US is wise and if the Indian government is wise they will now begin to prepare to deal with a Taliban or at least a religious hardline government in Islamabad. Even if it does not happen they should be prepared for the possibility. Don’t forget that when Mao was marching around, the world was not prepared for a Communist China, they even denied them a UN seat for decades after they had taken over but at the end they had to accept it. You can not always have the governments you like abroad but your foreign policy should be broad enough to deal with each and everyone.

  3. April 27, 2009 8:51 pm

    @ Shilpadesh : You have taken the words out of my mouth. I agree with you about 1971. We should have stayed out. That was a historic blunder.

    • April 28, 2009 11:10 am

      I think the same is true of India’s meddling (even if it was IPKF) in Sri Lanka and the UK/ US meddling in the gulf (in the form of wars).

  4. April 27, 2009 10:00 pm

    well all I can say is the world is gone nuts and the people have gone mad….my sincere question- whats wrong with humans? Can’t they just be peaceful? Isn’t there enough space?

  5. rags permalink
    April 27, 2009 10:45 pm

    “For example, Taliban rebels who were caught and found uncircumcised were promptly dubbed as Indian agents! ”

    This made me laugh. What a bunch of jokers.

    “And there also seems to be some sort of an ego issue, as Pakistan is hell bent on having as many troops as India on the Indo-Pak border. India needs the troops there, not Pakistan”
    What more can we expect from a country which was formed on an anti-India platform….

    “Pakistan now probably knows that it made the biggest mistake of its existence by showing sympathy to the Taliban ”
    In my opinion Pakistan’s very existence is a mistake.

    Ironical isn’t it? We have to worry about the stability of a country which was (and is) intent on destroying ours…..

  6. April 27, 2009 11:14 pm

    This is really a very worrying issue. I too have written a post on the same subject. I do hope better sense prevails and the people of Pakistan wake up to the situation that they are in. We will need the government, the people and the army of Pakistan to start focussing on the enemy within. It is India’s interest to have a stable and democratic Pakistan, and it is upto the people of Pakistan to help their country reach there. If not, we along with the rest of the world would have to bear the consequences, besides Pakistan of course.

  7. locutus83 permalink
    April 27, 2009 11:38 pm

    Off topic: @vishesh – “my sincere question- whats wrong with humans? Can’t they just be peaceful? Isn’t there enough space?”

    Yep mate, you are absolutely spot on. No, I mean seriously! The population of this Earth is waaay too high, and there is not enough space or resources to sustain all 6 billion human beings at the same level. Also, climate change and global warming is adding to the problem. If AIDS and SARS were not good enough, now we have the new pig-flu. The future of the Earth does not look very good, my friend.

    Please read “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” by Jared Diamond. It is an absolute classic, and shows why socio-economic disparities are a major root cause of all problems facing our Earth, terrorism and war included. However, fanatical religious and ideological hatred can sometimes supplant that too, as we see in case of Pakistan.

    On topic: Pakistan was founded on the basis of pure hatred for India and whatever India stands for. It is a kind of blind, maniacal, suicidal hatred – that revenge obsessed psychos possess – they will go to the extent of complete self-destruction to feel the sadistic joy of hurting someone they hate so badly. In fact many Pakistani hardliners and generals have openly said that they will attack India with nuclear weapons if USA dares to carry out military operations a la Iraq in Pakistan. In hindi, it can be put across as – “khud bhee marenge, tumko saath lekar marenge”

    As Odzer rightly pointed out, Pakistan was not serious in carrying out rural land and labour reforms. Feudalism and poverty run deep in Pakistani villages, and law and order is in the hands of rich, corrupt land owners who harass abuse the poor rural folk left, right and centre. Hence, the Sharia-spewing Taliban is like a godsend for many of the oppressed and frustrated rural folk who believe that the repressive barbaric justice meted out by them will be at least fair and uniform. Thus, the rural hinterlands of Pakistan are a fertile ground for Taliban to sprout and spread!

    India ought to be very, very wary about the ground realities in Pakistan, and should take concrete diplomatic and military steps to prevent any of the effects of the turmoil in Pakistan from spilling over here.

    • rags permalink
      April 28, 2009 9:22 am

      “As Odzer rightly pointed out, Pakistan was not serious in carrying out rural land and labour reforms”

      I don’t think Pakistan has been serious about anything all these years except for teaching “K for kaffir” to its primary school kids.

  8. April 28, 2009 12:52 am

    The U.S. invaded Afghanistan after 9/11 to overthrow the Taliban. The war is still ongoing and the Taliban are still holding areas of the countryside. The U.S. is also working very hard to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons. The U.S. will never tolerate the Taliban taking over Pakistan and getting access to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. For that matter, do you think India will stand by and do nothing if that seems likely to occur? How about Israel? How about Russia and China? It takes very little imagination to see a Taliban Pakistan sparking a nuclear war throughout the Middle East and South-East Asia. This is the worst case nightmare for the world powers and while the U.S. and others, including India, may, may hesitate unless attacked, Israel will launch a preemptive assault on either Iran or Pakistan up to and including nuclear weapons if they feel threatened. Even though the Israeli Air Force lacks long-range bombers and the ability to refuel fighters to reach that far, they do have both ground based ballistic missiles and submarine launched missiles. This is not only about the Swat Valley anymore or the war in Afghanistan; it’s about the very survival of the entire region. Unless the present governments in all the countries involved get serious about human rights, reform and economic growth, then the ascendancy of the Taliban will continue with very grave consequences.

    • rags permalink
      April 28, 2009 9:18 am

      “The U.S. will never tolerate the Taliban taking over Pakistan and getting access to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. For that matter, do you think India will stand by and do nothing if that seems likely to occur”

      Friend, I dunno about U.S., Russia, China or Israel but India will (or can) do nothing if the Taliban takes over Pakistan. India did not do anything about the Mumbai attacks (which tooks place in its own soil), what can it do about the change of power on the other side of the border except for sending diplomats to ‘deal’ with the Taliban? (and of course send ‘good will’ ambassadors or trains….) Honestly, in my opinion India’s ‘power’ is grossly overrated… We got a banana republic here…

      • April 28, 2009 5:58 pm

        rags, don’t underestimate the power of a candle vigil to win over Taliban. ;) :D

        • rags permalink
          April 28, 2009 6:27 pm

          Oh yeah! How could I? :) Its a very important symptom of the sitting duck syndrome of India.

  9. ART permalink
    April 28, 2009 2:31 am

    very interesting and well written…

  10. April 28, 2009 7:05 am

    Fall of Pakistan is inevitable and sceanrio of Iranian revolution is again coming in the mind.Suicide policy of nourishing taliban by pak is like taming a serpent in your own house for taking revenge to neighbour.It is being said that while Pakistanis refuse to see or accept the reality, a civil war is underway in the region to all intents and purposes. And the Pakistani state is losing this civil war. The Pakistani military has no credibility with anyone in the country and many see the Taliban favorably as either anti-imperialist or pan-Islamist.The major area of conflict is Fata and baloch region.FATA has majority of population of Pashtun People and have there own belief for education. Literates don’t have knowledge of modern education and practices. They have only the knowledge of Urdu or Farsi.FATA is under its own rule. Its a bizarre facts that these areas have sovereignty. There is only one law under which Pakistan can take a person from there. The draconian law known as Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) framed by the British in 1901 to keep the people of Tribal Areas under suppression is still the law of the Tribal Areas.

    For more detail read about pak problems , http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22274

  11. April 28, 2009 8:15 am

    I agree emphatically with most of the comments above, leaving me hardly anything to say.

    Since the Pak establishment’s raison d’être is anti-Indian, they will accept martyrdom to the ‘Islamic cause’ rather than admit anything vis-à-vis India.

    Pak’s disease of denial is as vicious as the denial that afflicts alcoholics and drug addicts. They will go all the way to the grave, heads held high in empty pride, rather than fight the disease within.

    It is time for India to stop hoping and praying. Pak is never going to catch those responsible for Mumbai blasts. They’re never going to do anything against Dawood or Dr. Khan. They’re never going to reduce troops on the India border, nor stop infiltration, nor bow to American or world pressure.

    The American policy stand is receiving widespread media attention, but I wonder about the Chinese. See how the US and the world could do nothing when North Korea launched its missile. Only because of the Chinese veto.

    This is important because, interestingly, China seems to be insulated from the Al Qaeda and Jihadi terror groups. Neither have there been any terror attacks in China, nor did we even hear of any serious terror threats during the Olympics. Why? Hence I disagree with Brian above, and do not think that the present Af-Pak crisis is being viewed as a threat in China. Because it is a threat to India, to democracy, to freedom and human rights, China thinks it has nothing to fear.

    Neither US nor Israel nor the EU can unilaterally take action against a Taliban-ruled Pakistan. The UN Security Council will probably face its greatest challenge if the Taliban get their hands on the nukes.

    There is no realistic difference between an Army-controlled and a Taliban-ruled Pakistan. It is in India’s interests to prepare for the worst. How are we going to respond to a Taliban-ruled Pakistan? What are we going to do if they get control of the nukes? These are the questions we should be asking, preparing, and planning for.

    • rags permalink
      April 28, 2009 9:30 am

      “This is important because, interestingly, China seems to be insulated from the Al Qaeda and Jihadi terror groups.”

      China and Pak are great buddies.China actively supplies weapons to them, why should it fear them? We should probably do the same for the Uighurs (and the other separatist groups in China)…. Screw the Panchsheel.

      • April 28, 2009 9:54 am

        “China and Pak are great buddies.”

        Yup. That’s what I was implying, and driving home the point that we cannot ignore the Chinese factor in this equation.

        Forget Chinese separatist groups like Uighurs (I don’t know much about them). Look how India and the whole world is turning a blind eye to human rights issues w.r.t. Tibet. Today, nobody in the world is in a position to go against the Chinese. France and UK’s capitulation regarding Tibet prior/during the G-20 meet sealed that fact.

  12. April 28, 2009 10:49 am

    Excellent analysis Nita

    Pakistan today is in a terrible situation.
    It is downplaying the Taliban threat in the name of “threat” from India. Clearly they want to exploit this situation to force US to interfere in Kashmir issue as it happened sometime back when US suggested India to withdraw troops from pak border so that pakistan could concentrate on it’s western border; this was of course rejected by New Delhi.
    I pity the situation of Pakistan, they have to exploit this terrible situation in which they are, for their very survival, for getting aid from the US.

    The ISI will do everything which is anti India even if it harms Pak too.Perhaps that’s why they are allowing Taliban to invade in Pak.

  13. April 28, 2009 12:23 pm

    Nita

    This is a timely post indeed. My hypothesis about what is precipitating this turn of events is as follows:

    I can’t help but think the Pakistani army is complicit in this surrender of power to the Taliban. Over the years, the army are so used to being in power in Pakistan by hook or by crook, that when they are not, they try to convince the long-suffering Pakistani public that they should be. They try to shape public opinion either by staging fights with India or choreographing such ‘surrenders’ as in Swat.

    So, whether their containment moves are really about containment or about a coup (yet again) remains to be seen.

    In a related context, I was speaking at an event yesterday where people asked questions about India’s security situation and the trajectory. The ensuing conversation suggests that they seem to understand that geo-politically SE Asia is like a pile of explosives and while India’s non-alignment, not-the-first-move, apparently defensive stances may seem like cowardice to some, they are actually the smarter things to do than to cause mutually assured destruction (remember that?) by being aggressive.

    In all this, my sadness is always reserved for the ordinary people caught in the mess.

  14. sraboneyghose permalink
    April 28, 2009 12:31 pm

    I think the Taliban threat is a conspiracy hatched by the Pakistani army and the ISI to show the ineptness of the civilian governemnt…I’m sure there will be a coup soon…

    “It looks like the Pakistani government clung (still clings?) to the naive belief that India was their main enemy.”
    There is nothing naive about focussing on India – this strategy has been well thought out…By propagating the myth that India is Pakistan’s main enemy , the establishment has for decades managed to deflect people’s attention from real problems like the lack of jobs, infrastructure, crime etc. …Everything can be blamed on India…

  15. April 28, 2009 6:45 pm

    I agree with Odzer and Shefaly. Sending IPKF was the biggest blunder that Rajiv Gandhi committed. he had to pay the price with his life. Now Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha along with their associates having soft corner for LTTE, I don’t know when we will learn a lesson.We shouldn’t be meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.

    • April 28, 2009 7:39 pm

      ..unless we want a little bit of meddling ourselves. And through our non-alignment and the Simla agreement and all that, we have made it pretty clear we do not like meddling. So why not do unto others etc?

      Good point, Prerna.

  16. April 28, 2009 9:08 pm

    Hey to all! All your comments are not just interesting, they have thrown up different aspects which I had thought thought of. So thanks to each one of you. Unfortunately I am unable to answer comments at this moment as something very urgent has come up. Hope to be back on track soon. But I must mention that this issue (of the post) has been festering in me for a while and I was relieved to say it! Thanks for reading the post and adding valuable comments.
    I find this issue more important than the elections or the IPL which is what is dominating the news at the moment. I mean, the elections are important ofcourse, but the juggernaut is rolling on, and it’s the aftermath of the elections which will be more interesting, not the childish exchanges which are on now.

  17. Naveen permalink
    April 29, 2009 1:56 am

    Odzer, Prerna, Shefaly,

    Why do y’all think that India meddled in Sri Lankan affairs with IPKF. Isn’t it at the request of Jayawardhane, the then president of Sri Lanka, that India sent the force? India is involved in 30 or so peace keeping missions like in Congo, Somalia, Combodia etc. Do you think India should’nt have involved in these missions also?

    Indira Gandhi did a lot of mischief in a lot of places and I think Rajiv Gandhi tried to right a lot of her wrongs and was one of the very few leaders that tried to solve problems (not cover them up to smolder, like other Indian leaders did/do).

    • April 30, 2009 11:43 am

      @ Naveen : Jayawardhane was just playing for time and he out foxed Rajiv till the last minute. He only accepted Indian help when the situation had become absolutely unbearable for India and when this country feared that the Tamil insurgency would spread to India. One of the greatest fears of India has been that an independent Tamil nation would open a demand for the same here. The basis is the same, “we had a kingdom this many years ago, blah blah”. I am not opposed to India participating in UN sponsored peace keeping but the track record of Indian troops there has not been that good, in fact some countries are now even refusing Indian troops in Africa. Read about the recent rapes of children etc, smuggling gold etc etc?

      • Naveen permalink
        May 1, 2009 8:43 am

        Odzer, I can never believe that another country outsmarted Indian diplomacy. Don’t forget that L.K Jha made (the so-called legendary) Henry Kissinger pee in his pants in the 70s. Indian foreign policy is anything but gullible. Coming to Sri Lanka, J.N.Dixit made it very clear (in his many articles) that India gained the most, not others.

        Regarding Congo, do not discredit the efforts of Indian troops because of a few black sheep. UN peace keeping efforts have historically had similar blunders but it is only magnified this time. It is not India’s track record but that of UN peacekeeping operations. What else can we expect in what UN called the ‘World’s deadliest spot’, where every day is another life? What matters the most is Indian soldiers risking their lives in someone else’s war, while most other countries kept out of there for fear.

  18. OneEarth permalink
    April 29, 2009 10:50 pm

    Why should Pakistan deny the rule of Taliban? Don’t they want virgins in heaven and Shari’a?

    For every Islamic state, Shari’a should be applied. The extortion that you are saying from Sikhs of Pakistan is in fact called as ‘Jizyah’ as per Quran! Google for Chapter 9, Verse 29 of Quran if you think it is a lie.

    This is the modernization of Islam in terms of Taliban. That extra tax is charged for “protection” of minorities. Look around in the 55 or so Muslim countries, do you find minorities living with equal rights and safely? No, because they don’t know what true Islam teaches. They are to be charged an extra tax (or extortion as you abusively call) or else they should be converted. That is what Islam teaches.

    And many still say Islam is tolerance and no imperialism! If intellectuals like you raise a voice against all this, we can ensure many a people, mostly Muslims living safely for ever.

    • Vinod permalink
      April 30, 2009 9:40 am

      I would very humbly suggest the book

      Shari’a: Theory, Practice, and Transformations

      by Wael B Hallaq

      Here is the description of the book:

      In recent years, Islamic law, or Shari’a, has been appropriated as a tool of modernity in the Muslim world and in the West and has become highly politicised in consequence. Wael Hallaq’s magisterial overview of Shari’a sets the record straight by examining the doctrines and practices of Islamic law within the context of its history, and by showing how it functioned within pre-modern Islamic societies as a moral imperative. In so doing, Hallaq takes the reader on an epic journey tracing the history of Islamic law from its beginnings in seventh-century Arabia, through its development and transformation under the Ottomans, and across lands as diverse as India, Africa and South-East Asia, to the present. In a remarkably fluent narrative, the author unravels the complexities of his subject to reveal a love and deep knowledge of the law which will inform, engage and challenge the reader

  19. April 30, 2009 2:42 am

    Nita,
    Your posts are always like properly researched works. Whatever I thought of has largely been said already in the comments.
    I appreciate your work.

    Vaibhav

  20. April 30, 2009 8:37 am

    shilpadesh, you have answered your own doubt. I agree, with a flood of refugees from across the border and the country seeking help we could not turn our backs. India has always been a hospitable nations, welcoming of refugees.

    Odzer, yes if Pakistan had concentrated on economic development and reforms instead of wanting to grab Kashmir they wouldn’t be in a position where they are in danger of losing all of Pak. There was some talk recently of cutting Pak into two bits, and letting the NW frontier go…but this was just debated. Nothing has happened so far. It just shows that their greed for Kashmir (they already took half of it) has landed them in trouble. The Taliban actually fooled the Pakistani government into thinking that if it sent killers and murderers into India it would help them get Kashmir. How foolish. It has infact turned the world to see India’s side.

    Vishesh, I don’t think that man by nature is a peaceful creature. Civilization is what has brought us to a position where we strive for peace.

    rags, the world has put us in in a corner where we cannot attack a country which sends terrorists into our country to kill our civilian population. It’s a sad situation.

    JP Joshi, I have heard that the local villagers etc are sympathetic to the Taliban and their way of meting out justice, as it’s better than Pakistan’s justice system. And as for women’s rights, well, they don’t think that women have equal rights to men.

    locutus83, ideally yes India should do something, but I doubt that they can do very much.

    Brian, that is on my mind too. Nuclear war. If the Taliban do use a nuclear weapon they will attack Mumbai or Delhi first, not the US.

    ART, thanks.

    yayaver, your words “Suicide policy of nourishing taliban by pak is like taming a serpent in your own house for taking revenge to neighbour” are bang on!

  21. April 30, 2009 8:53 am

    Mahendra, I agree that India can’t do much to stop the Taliban and we need to prepare to protect ourselves…but even here I wonder if we can do anything because if the Taliban take over and start threatening us with nuclear weapons what can we do? They are a self destructive. And about China, I did read about some sort of threat they have from extremist groups but we don’t know the extent of it as they hide the truth.

    vivek mittal, thanks. I feel I should feel sorry for Pakistan but from what I read on the internet on blogs etc I find that many people have actually donated to these extremist groups because they believed in some “cause.” Why should anyone donate to any outfit which murders and maims innocents?

    Shefaly, thanks. I wish I could feel sorry for the ordinary people. Ordinarily I would have, but I have been influenced by the blogs by Pakistanis where they seem to spew a lot of hatred against India and also it appears as if the educated elite has donated to the Kashmir cause, donated to terror groups. This has dampened any sympathy I have. I am ofcourse talking of the educated elite like us. As for the poor villagers in Pakistan, I read that a lot of people who have been marginalised and want will welcome Sharia because they want justice that the Pakistani judiciary is not giving them. It is difficult for me to identify with these people as they do not believe in the rights of women.

    sraboneyghose, yeah, it could all be a conspiracy!

    Prerna, IPKF was a disaster but it was an over the table kind of of thing, a pact between two governments. There was nothing dishonourable about it as it was open, and it was a peacekeeping force which had some good intentions.

    OneEarth, yes there are those in Pakistan who think like that. But I do not think it’s the majority who believes in going back to following the Koran in every little thing. The educated elite certainly don’t, but they too want Kashmir. It’s Pakistan’s greed for Kashmir that has landed them in this mess.

    vaibhavtiwari, thanks.

    • April 30, 2009 4:01 pm

      Nita:

      I do not think bloggers anywhere represent their entire country or even their own kind (educated, well-off etc). They are the small numbers who have opinions and the wherewithal to give those opinions an airing.

      Ordinary people under Taliban have no voice whether they are men or women. Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage was destroyed by the Taliban with the quiet complicity of the power-that-be watching. And now they are back and ruining lives that had just begun to flower in the freedom. Particularly Afghan women are really badly off (see: http://tinyurl.com/coo942).

      What’s to say this won’t creep into Pakistan? A large number of Pakistani educated middle-class people – I admit this is mainly the kind I have known – are quite liberal and not dog-minded at all. Yes, they too like the urban, well-off Indian switch off and live in their own world. But I have Pakistani female friends who studied maths, engineering, medicine etc just like girls in India do. If the Taliban run riot over Pakistan, how will these girls and their families, who embrace free thinking, function?

      As for rabid views, I have seen enough rabidity in the so-called educated elite in India. Perhaps no sympathy should be reserved for them either. :-/

      • April 30, 2009 7:29 pm

        Shefaly, I knew a fair number of Pakistani women once, and all of them without exception had strong views about support of groups fighting for Kashmir. They didn’t want to know that these groups were evil. The people I knew were about a dozen Pakistani women, all educated, all rich, 1-2 upper middle class. This was in Africa and yes they were my friends, or rather very good acquaintances. I agree that I should not base my judgment on these people whom I knew and I am even willing to concede that bloggers do not represent the people of pakistan, not even the educated. And while I agree that the ordinary educated Pakistani can be liberal, all I am saying is that when it comes to support of terror groups (whom they insist are not terror groups) and terrorists (whom they feel are freedom fighters) they have a different idea. But you see such support, even if indirect, comes home to roost. These people who blow up innocent people in markets also have an ideology that is inimical to women. In this case at least. You can’t eat your cake and have it too, as Pakistan is finding out. That is why I find it difficult to sympathise.

  22. Vinod permalink
    April 30, 2009 9:33 am

    I found this through one of the links in your writeup. It’s from a Pakistani in Lahore

    What’s oddly disconcerting about events here in Pakistan is the surreal mix of radical and western attitude. Lahore is a thriving metropolis with a healthy middle/upper class — not just the supremely wealthy landlords, but also doctors and lawyers and many businessmen. The attitudes of the Taliban could not be further from most people’s lives, yet in our midst women are nervous about what they wear to the market. Most newspapers are undeniably secular and western — printing daily editorials like yours. It feels inconceivable that the Taliban should have power here, so we go about our daily lives, even though in the back of everyone’s head is the equal feeling that something terrible has already arrived. It’s a schizophrenic way to live.

    • April 30, 2009 7:38 pm

      Vinod, I guess that seems to encapsulate what the ordinary Pakistani is feeling, they are still in a state of disbelief and fear. One can only pray for them, because if the Taliban has already arrived nothing can be done. Reminds me of the movie Alien.

  23. April 30, 2009 9:59 am

    Nita, I think this excellent speech/article will contribute greatly to this extremely important discussion,

    http://www.brookings.edu/speeches/2009/0409_pakistan_cohen.aspx

    I desisted from commenting so far because I wanted to see what other people thought. But reading that article today provided a whole new dimension, so I will have to think a bit more.

    • April 30, 2009 11:21 am

      Vikram, thanks for the link. It was indeed very interesting although I do think the writer has been harsh on India, unless I have not understood his article fully. I guess its heavy and a little confusing and I need to read it again. Overall though I think the whole world is a trifle harsh on India as compared to China and Pakistan. I think this attitude of India bashing (I am not saying that the Cohen has bashed India) is a favourite game with analysts and writers from the west. I am not sure why it is so.
      Cohen has not explored one of the greatest issues in pakistan, the Islamic factor, but has barely touched upon it and therefore I think his article is not balanced. However I do agree with his views on Hindutva, as firmly believe that the future Indian identity cannot be an Hindutva idealogy. So what will the pan indian identity be? I am not sure we even need a single identity with which to face the world. We are a multi-ethnic, multi-coloured and multi-religious country, and I pray we remain so.

      • May 1, 2009 12:35 am

        Nita, we can surely not look at an analysis as being harsh or unfair to one party. I guess you are implying that Cohen is not being objective, but I think if anything he is being rather generous to India by hyping up our ‘economic and cultural power’. Even if we were an economic and cultural ‘power’ that would matter little against an enemy that is fiercely ideological.

        The Taliban and related extremists thrive on weak governance, marginalized populations and weak security setups, and we have those situations in many places in India. I think the Indian media, and the elite of the country have to demand that handling the Taliban in Pakistan be made one of the benchmarks of assessing a government. Until then we will continue to be in a reactive mode rather than a pro-active one.

        I think thats what the article is really trying to get at.

        • rags permalink
          May 1, 2009 7:12 pm

          I read the article. I think this is yet another author who has overestimated India’s power in SouthAsia. (They probably get a bit carried away by ‘India shining’). And his solutions are equally naive,like we haven’t tried those before… he wants us to engage on a dialogue with Pak, we’ve been doing that for the past 60 years, the point is now no one knows which power centre we’ve got to deal with? The Govt, Army, Taliban or ISI? And equating ISI with RAW is quite laughable actually. The RAW doesn’t deserve that.

          There is one thing I agree with though. His observation that Indians follow Narasimha Rao’s “wait and do nothing” policy. I agree with that hundred percent. That’s how we deal with problems (both internal and external). Sit on them and hope they disappear….

        • Naveen permalink
          May 1, 2009 11:37 pm

          Is this the same Brooking Institution that did Bush Admin’s hitjob confirming WMDs in Iraq and helped tag Iran as a terrorist state (because they planned to sell their oil in non-dollar exchanges)?

  24. rags permalink
    April 30, 2009 11:04 am

    “Prerna, IPKF was a disaster but it was an over the table kind of of thing, a pact between two governments. There was nothing dishonourable about it as it was open, and it was a peacekeeping force which had some good intentions”

    I wanted to point this out too. We were not clandestinely supporting anyone they way many governments are doing right now.. (But I actually think we should, however our RAW is woefully indaequate for that).
    Besides someone commented about Indian forces in Congo, Somalia etc. I think they are a part of the U.N. peacekeeping forces and not the Indian govt.’s individual inititative they way. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  25. openlight permalink
    April 30, 2009 10:00 pm

    It was bound to happen.

    And its not in Pakistan, Taliban elements are in India also, having just hatred for Hindus and are just multiplying their population for getting over power (they have say in 80 + constituencies) and also helped by Bangladeshis counterparts. Just Google about Deoband and their principles, its same as that of Taliban.

    Indian Muslims follow Shariat, so aren’t we talibanized India ??

    How come 26/11, and years of bombing and killing is going on (and specific targets of temples, markets,cinema hall — hardly any venue in India left for bombing), their is inherent and strong support from India to ‘these’ elements and which act freely and roam around due to corruption / vote bank politics.

    Regarding jaziya, isn’t huj subsidy Indians are giving to Muslims of India (though with an different name – Huj subsidy) which is not given in any other country of world (even Islamic) an annual jaziya.

    And I see in future continuation of bombings, vote bank appeasement (shah bano case), Huj subsidy, Shariat (yes it is in India also) continuation, also add to list – CBSE recognition of madrassas by Arjun singh (another cong vote bank trick to win election).

    So, India is no different than Pakistan, only difference is Taliban elements and their working is an undercurrent which explodes now and then, and is like an proxy war going in the country and will continue till their Kafir philosophy by God’s messenger (who at age of 50+ married 10 year old) is followed.

  26. Sudhir Jatar permalink
    May 2, 2009 10:01 am

    I would like to make three points:
    1. Obama has now put his finger at the correct spot. He has told Pakistan that it should leave its obsession with India. The result is that Pak has thinned out 6 regiments from the LoC in J&K & deployed these in their Western sector.
    2. Obama also has said that the only stable institution in Pakistan is the Army and has faith that it would stop the advance of the Taliban. He is not so sure of the civilian politicians and administrators. This does not bode well for India because keeping tension with India is the prime objective of the Army to retain its hold.
    3. Pak Army has pushed out the Taliban from its advanced positions beyond Swat nearer Islamabad.
    4. The US wants to support the so-called moderate Taliban with the sole aim of dividing the radical Muslim movement with a view to annihilating Al Qaeda. In the process, it does not mind if the ‘power’ goes in the hands of the ‘moderate’ Taliban.
    5. None in India has yet realised that Taliban could advance into India and spread its tentacles first in the Muslim ghettos, which have been nurtured by vote bank politicians. This would be the first step in India’s Talibanisation.

  27. May 7, 2009 12:15 pm

    Nita:

    All analysis apart, I think you will enjoy – and squirm – at this clip from Jon Stewart:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=226596&title=apakalypse-now

    Zardari makes Dubya look like a MacArthur Fellow.

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