Pakistan as a nation has always had an attention disorder, we crave it we make issues out of it and we revel in it like no one else. The problem is that these days Pakistan has become the hot spot of all hot spots in international media and opinion for all the wrong reasons.
Ever since the U.S war on terror in Afghanistan pushed the mujahideen this way of the durand line Pakistan has been dealing with first a limited insurgency and then a full blown militancy in the name of the Taliban. As far as literal meanings go Taliban just means students of Islam but these Taliban are students of confusion for that is what they have caused and created several rifts in our society in the process.
At least that is what it seems like to an ordinary citizen of Pakistan, from what we can make out amongst the many deals and promises made and broken daily between the Taliban and the Government. Civil society in Pakistan is quite bewildered as to the real intents and purposes of the Taliban these days, specially with regards to their policy towards women whom they prefer to incarcerate in their own homes and ban from education and sometimes health care as well, at least that is what has been coming out of their areas of control as far as we can see and hear.
Where in all this is the women of Pakistan, how do they feel about the approaching forces or whether they are approaching at all? Are they accepting the new Nizam E Adal or are they fearful of their already limited existence being further curtailed? Do they somehow feel that with the Talibanâ€™s implementation of Shariah they will be in fact set free? These were some of the questions I put forth to a wide cross section of women in our society and below is the result of it, a short journey into the minds of the Pakistani woman regarding the Taliban.
“The more I think about it, the more I feel that the ‘threat of Talibanization’ is thoroughly manufactured. It just doesn’t make sense for the present government to take a back-seat and watch these criminals ‘take over’ the country. Yes, they are criminals. They’re not preaching Islam. They function under the facade of the ‘Taliban’, they make twisted statements under the pretext of Islam. Frankly, I’m sick and tired with being fearful. I’ve really had it. The Pakistani civil society won’t back down, they won’t take over – something’s got to give, sooner or later.”
Sonya Rehman, Journalist, Lahore.
â€œI feel no one should be forced into doing anything, period. That’s not what our religion teaches us. Right now, I’m just thinking of dropping my kids to school tomorrow and then bringing them home safelyâ€
Shazia, Entrepreneur, Karachi
â€œThe Taliban – one cannot be sure if they exist. One wonders if they are misguided militants who are acting out of sheer frustration. The essence of religion, aside from being peaceful, it is also very personal. To don turbans and spread beard masked terror is not only a violation of human rights, but it defies the very proponent of democracy and freedom to live and let live . Ironically, they are proof we live in a facade – a house of cards of idealistic belief that democracy will save us from the aliens with shalwars hitched high. If the Taliban take over- God Forbid – we will be forced into backing even further back into our corner, in which we crouch as self conscious individuals constantly on display for the world to condemn like circus animalsâ€
Batool Habib, Ed AssistantÂ Hamse, Karachi
As a woman I believe the twisting of what Islam stands for by the Taliban, affects my species the most, as most of the twisting, and resulting suppression, is enforced on women. Their idea of Islam is one which has nothing to do with believing in God and has everything to do with wanting power and terrorizing people into submission – this act in itself goes completely against the basic teachings of our peaceful Islam which says there is no compulsion in religion
Fariha R, C.E.O, Ink, Lahore
They are a bunch of uneducated men who have taken it upon them to force their version of faith on everyone by force They should be treated like criminals they are and not like religious leaders. They are just aiming for money and power hence the control over emerald and marble mines.
Tazeen Javed, Journalist, Karachi
Talibans are a threat to our nation. They are cruel set of people who want to impose their own beliefs on our nation and lead all of us to extremism, which is not something our religion advocates! They debate that religion should be imposed on people in our land; however, I believe religion can never be imposed. Besides that religion is something very personal; the way I interpret it might be different from the way another one does and since its between you and your God, a third party doesnâ€™t have the right to intervene.
Hafsah Sarfaraz, Student, Islamabad
We need to understand that the “Taliban” are reactionaries, and reactionaries don’t have ideologies, they just react. What the Taliban did in Afghanistan, and what they are doing right now in North Western Pakistan, are both violent responses to decades of systematic neglect these regions have faced because of the unwillingness of state and international authorities to improve the living conditions of these areas. Therefore we must be conscious of equating their actions with Islam; Islam is being used by them as an agent of political socialization, so they can gather sympathies and mass support. Even if there are some kind of Taliban that do not have inherent politically motives, the manner in which they are approaching their task of spreading Islamic values, has been the greatest source of disrepute to the good name of Islam in perhaps of all of Islam’s history. Then there is also a serious question mark over their rigid and obscure interpretations of Islamic law.
Zainub Razvi, Student Karachi
Needless to say, the proof is in the pudding for everyone to see. There were many more who wanted to comment anonymously as well, because there is a certain fear still instilled in people’s minds regarding the Talib’s however fear may suppress but it cannot silence forever.
As published in the Saturday Post on 10/5/2009