ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pakistan in the Post-Taliban Present

The political leadership in Pakistan, even when democracy has grown and strengthened, has limited writ over what it can do regarding what the military considers its terrain. The Taliban may have been partially eliminated, but other equally odious militants continue to find protection through some organisations and individuals in the military. Dealing with the threats to Pakistan’s future and stability entails a deeper look within rather than blaming India or Afghanistan.

It might not immediately make sense to make the claim, given the eight terrorist suicide attacks across Pakistan in a matter of five days in February which resulted in over 120 deaths, that Pakistan has actually entered into its post-Taliban present. This is not to imply that whatever groups are branded under a very broad, often internally contradictory, banner called the “Taliban,” have all been wiped out, but Pakistan for many months now, has moved on from the numerous earlier phases of Taliban suicide insurgency since the middle of the last decade. Moreover, despite the presence of numerous militant Islamic jihadi organisations still active in Pakistan, the strength of the Taliban in its many manifestations is now quite diluted and dispersed. (Since this article was written, at least 10 people were killed and 30 others injured on 23 February after a powerful bomb ripped through the Z Block market of Lahore.)

It must be remembered that, whatever populist and popular form the original Taliban started out with in the late 1990s, the present nature of the Taliban in its various offshoots, is neither popular nor populist. The belief still held by some (younger) Pakistani academics and scholars, many of whom live in the West who seem to have inadequate understanding of history, that the Taliban movement was (and still continues to be) a reaction to imperialism, is revolutionary, that it harboured aspirations reflected by the people whom it may have wanted to benefit, that there was widespread support for the Islamic justice system meted out by these groups and that it was an indigenous uprising, no longer hold currency. Perhaps such impressions and wishful thinking may have been true for a few years two decades ago (although such premises are also quite incredulous), the changing politics of the region, aggressive military action, and splits and differences within some entity which could claim to represent the original Taliban, have resulted in these groups becoming more like mafias, rather than ideologically motivated Islamic groups believing in some obscure and outdated notion of Islamic jihad. This is perhaps even so, despite the emergence of ISIS/DAISH (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and other larger groupings in the region. One could even make the somewhat provocative suggestion that the emergence of DAISH in Pakistan is actually the swan-song of the Taliban as it has been known.

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Updated On : 9th Mar, 2017
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