By Meer Khan
Negotiators representing Pakistani Taliban insurgents said that there could be no peace until Pakistan embraces Islamic Sharia Law and US-led forces withdraw completely from the neighboring Afghanistan. Sami ul Haq, founder of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the head of the TTP’s three man talks team, said that there could be no peace in the region while there is NO SHARIA but democracy. The tough conditions appear to deal a blow to hopes that peace talks with the Pakistani government could end the TTP insurgency that has rocked the country since 2007.
Religion is not meant to be – and never was – forced upon an individual against his or her own will. Unfortunately, Pakistan is facing terrorism and some Islamic fundamentalists want to impose their rigid rituals and rights on non-Muslims. The Pakistani government is in a state of confusion about whether to confront them, which could lead to even more rabid mobs in the short-term, or allow the terrorizing of innocents to continue. Amidst all of this turmoil, government is again wasting time in attempting to negotiate, all the while knowing that this process will bring no solid result.
Taliban peacekeeping troops and Pakistani government negotiators are meeting to devise a strategy for formally kick-starting a much-awaited dialogue process. The Taliban had nominated five prominent figures – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf; PTI Chairman, Imran Khan, Jamiat Ullma-e-Islam JUI-S; Chief Maulana Sami ul Haq, Jamaat-e-Islamai JI leader; Prof. Mohammad Ibrahim, JUI-F politician Mufti Kifayat ullah; and Lal Masjid prayer leader Maulana Abdul Aziz – to act as intermediaries between them and the government’s negotiating team. Imran Khan strongly opposes the military operation in North Waziristan. He is also leading the campaign in Pakistan against US Drone attacks of terrorist outfits.
Earlier, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid has said that Pakistani people have been fed-up with the anti-Islam system of democracy and are looking toward the Taliban for “change”. He further stated that Taliban have spilled out to different cities of Pakistan and now their aim is to make Islamabad the stronghold of Islam. This would mean every decision being made according to Sharia law. TTP fellow negotiator Maulana Abdul Aziz also said the TTP’s long-held commitment to imposing Sharia law across Pakistan was not open to debate. Without Sharia law, the Taliban won’t accept (the talks) even one percent.
Terrorism in Pakistan has become a highly vicious reality in recent years. The annual death toll from terrorist attacks has risen up to approximately 60,000 in last 13th years. According to the government of Pakistan, the direct and indirect economic costs of terrorism from 2000-2010 was $68 billion. Former Presidents Asif Ali Zardari, and Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, had to admit that terrorist outfits were “deliberately created” and looked after by previous governments as a policy to achieve some short-term strategic objectives. This began with Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s controversial ISLAMIZATION policies of the 1980s, under which conflicts were started against Russian involvement in Afghanistan. Zia’s tenure as president included when Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan-Soviet War was well under way, which led to a greater invasion of ideologically driven Mujahideen into the Tribal areas (“FATA”) of Pakistan; it amplified the Kalashnikov Culture and drugs from Golden Crescent.
Zia, who was an extremist Muslim while he was the president of Pakistan, tried to impose Sharia in Pakistan. He was even the person who introduced the famous Blasphemy Law in Pakistan. He wishes and desires that Pakistan should be a State under the Sharia.
When Zia took over in 1977, he used religion as a tool to oppress people and to punish anyone who dared to speak against him. It was during his reign that hundreds of people – including journalists – were publicly lashed. It was on his instructions that the Hudood Laws were formulated. He is the one who started the process of changing things for the worse.
In 1984, he instructed the textbook boards to prepare books which showed that ‘Pakistan was not formed on the basis of race, language or geography but based on a common religious experience’. Students should be told about how Pakistan was created on Islamic Ideology. He also instructed them to eliminate the role of Minorities from the books.
In 80s he welcomed Mujahideen from Arab, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Indonesia and other part of world to fight against the USSR. He puts Pakistan into fire by establishing thousands of Mudassa’s to train these Mujahideen. This was the time When Osama Bin laden along with thousands of Arab terrorist enters in Pakistan. And Pakistan becomes the nursery of Muslim extremists. Zia made every possible effort to make Pakistan pure Sharia country. Even after the Afghan-soviet war these Mujahideen were never disarmed, later on these groups were activated as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkut-ul-Mujahideen, Saipa-e-Shaba and some of them join the Al-Qaeeda led by Bin Laden.
In 1996, Afghanistan was taken over by these Mujahideens (Talibans). They spread from Pakistan into Afghanistan and formed a Government as the ISLAMIC EMIRATE OF AFGHANISTAN. It gained the Diplomatic recognition from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab emirates. Mohammad Omar (Mullah Omar) who was the Spiritual leader of Taliban, becomes its Amirul momineen. Al-Qaeda supported the Taliban with thousands of fighters from Pakistan and other parts of the Arab world. They were financially supported by Saudi Arabia. The Taliban and their allies committed massacres against Afghan civilians, denied UN food supplies, burned vast areas of fertile land and destroying tens of thousands of homes during their rule from 1996 to 2001.
After the 9/11 tragedy, the U.S. and its allies declared war against the Taliban (Terrorists) and called it a “war on terror”. In December 2001, they were removed from power by the U.S. and its allies. The Taliban fled and went into hiding only to later regroup as an insurgency movement against the Karzai Administration and the NATO-led International Security Assistance force (ISAF).
After 9/11 Pakistan also supported the U.S. The Pakistani Army and political government supported the U.S. and its allies in the fight against the Taliban.
On 28th March, 2013 Pakistani Intelligence agencies told the Supreme Court that Pakistan has lost 49,000 lives since the attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States on September 11, 2001. More than 24,000 people, both civilians and troops were killed in terrorist attacks during the period between 2001 and 2008. The last five years have proved costlier, in human terms. Another 25,000-plus people died during military offensives against Taliban insurgents in the restive tribal regions since 2008. At least 49,000 people, armed forces have suffered 15,681 casualties while fighting Taliban militants in the tribal areas since 2008 – with 2009 being the deadliest year for them.
Since 2008, almost 9,000 people and security men were killed by bombers. As many as 5,152 civilians have been killed, 5,678 injured, in bomb blasts and suicide attacks since 2008. According to the report, there have been 235 suicide hits, 9,257 rocket attacks and 4,256 bomb explosions in the last five years. More than 200 members of tribal peace committees, or Peace Lashkars – including volunteers and chieftains – were also killed along with 275 wounded in targeted attacks by Taliban in the last three years.
The report also revealed that 1,030 schools and colleges were destroyed by Taliban insurgents in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa from 2009 to 2013.
Since 2008 to 2013, 1,479 soldiers were killed and 5,745 others were injured. The report said that those who died include 675 men of the paramilitary Frontier Corps while 1,978 others were injured.
A total of 1,717 policemen lost their lives in five years.
Suffering of Religious Minorities in Pakistan, After 9/11
The Original Constitution of Pakistan did not discriminate against Religious minorities in Pakistan but the Amendments made by the Military ruler Zia-ul-Haq has awakened the Islamization and promotes extremism in the society. The controversial Hudood Ordinance and Sharia Courts have given so much strengthen to all the radical Muslims. Later on, when Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took charge as elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, he enforced Shariat Bill in May 1991, and promoted the Anti-Christian Elements in the society. The Amendment made by Zia-ul-Haq – and empowerment provided by the Sharif’s Government – created new war between the Religious minorities in Pakistan. This whole system de-stabilized the peace and harmony, putting Christians and other Religious minorities into a hellish situation. Minorities who were already in a grave situation after these implications were put into fire. After 9/11, Christians and other minorities went through a hard time. Muslim extremists backed by the Taliban ideology, made their lives miserable. Hundreds of attacks have been faced by Christians, Hindu’s, Ahemdi’s and Shia’s in last 5 years.
Christians who played a vital role in the development of Pakistan are now leaving Pakistan for the security of their lives. During the last 8 months, thousands of Christians left Pakistan and took refuge in THAILAND, SRILANKA, MALAYSIA and other South Asian countries, waiting for the decision of UNHCR. Thousands of Hindus migrated to India last year. Hundreds of thousands of Shia- and Ahmedis have already left Pakistan and the rest are making efforts to leave the country.
How dialogues will effect Religious Minorities in Pakistan.
A country, which has a long history of Brutal killings of innocent people and targeting and demolishing places of worship of Minorities, is now heading towards the enforcement of Sharia demanded by the Taliban, which has a history of hating other Religions / faiths. The Taliban is now actually having serious dialogue with the current Government of Pakistan.
One of the examples of their hatred for other religion is that while they were in the power in Afghanistan, they destroyed the Buddha statues:
If these talks will be successful, then there will be no Church or any place of Worship for the Minorities, just like in Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by the same Sharia law the Taliban would like to impose on Pakistan. Saudi Arabia, which is providing the financial support to the Taliban, want to create an Islamic Emirate State in accordance with Sharia and the Taliban is their agent.
Over the last few years, it has been observed that several cases of blasphemy have been registered against the minorities in Pakistan. If the Sharia law is imposed – as demanded by the Taliban – there will be no end to the persecution of these innocent people. Those who have already been falsely accused of blasphemy and who are sitting in jails, will be given death sentences without any further trials.
We have even seen the extremism at its peak in this modern time. Two Christian brothers were shot in the courtyard, two died while in the police custody. One Lahore High court judge Arif Iqbal Hussain Bhatti was killed on 17th October, 1997 after acquitting Salamat Masih, 14, and Rehmat Masih, 46, on February 23, 1995 of having committed blasphemy.
My apprehension is that after the implementation of the Sharia demand by Taliban, there will be no place for minorities in Pakistan. Even the Modern Muslim will be in great trouble.