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Life under Taliban | Irfan Husain

22 February 2014

print version of this article print version, 22 February 2014

It would appear that the Taliban are broadcasting on a radio frequency most Pakistanis are not tuned into. And yet their message is loud and clear: our version of the Sharia, or else.

But the rose-tinted vision of an earthly heaven has little to do with reality. As we know from Afghanistan when it was ruled by the Taliban, it is hardly the model of governance most of us would like to live under.

Despite the latest Taliban atrocity — and one merges into the next in a red mist — Nawaz Sharif is bent on sacrificing any number of Pakistanis to make sure Punjab is not targeted.

And sure enough, despite numerous terrorist killings in Karachi, Fata and Peshawar, the prime minister’s home base has not been hit recently. When there was an attack in Rawalpindi, the army and air force retaliated quickly, killing dozens of suspected terrorists in North Waziristan.

So, given our current trajectory towards abject surrender, we need to start thinking of what our country would look like when it is ruled by the Taliban. Sure, the process might begin by ‘only’ conceding the tribal areas, but it would take a moron to think it would stop there. From their secure base, the militants would want to extend their reach deeper into Pakistan, much as they did when they were handed Swat on a platter.

Given the steely determination shown by our foe, and the dithering and lack of spine they have encountered in successive governments, the imposition of the Taliban version of the Sharia is now on the cards. What would this mean in reality?

In a recent interview, the Taliban spokesman has already declared that their candidate for the post of emir of the Islamic Emirate of Pakistan is Maulana Fazlullah. As he showed us when he was running Swat, he has no misguided notions of human rights to stay his hand while dispensing his brand of swift justice. So expect much blood in public squares, and public floggings to entertain us.

The TTP has already indicated its future educational policy by shooting Malala Yousafzai for insisting on her right to study. They have blown up hundreds of schools and colleges across the tribal areas and KP province.

The Taliban have also made it clear that under them, education will only be imparted through madressahs. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this path will take us.

Interest is anathema to the Taliban, so they will refuse to pay any on the billions of dollars of loans we have taken. Our creditors will then block all further loans, triggering a foreign exchange crisis. Imports will come to a standstill, and industry will grind to a halt.

Our foreign relations will be based on who is a good Muslim and who is not. Thus, the military, now dressed in shalwar kameez with ankles showing, will be told to prepare an invasion of India. As Taliban cheerleaders like Zaid Hamid have been urging, we should aim to plant the banner of Islam on the ramparts of Delhi Fort. Good luck with that.

Women, of course, would be told to stay at home. The millions employed across the country would lose their jobs overnight. They would only be able to emerge in full burqa when accompanies by a mahram, or close male relative. They could not be treated by a male doctor, and any display of skin would be punished with an immediate public flogging by a Talib, much as they did in Afghanistan when it was under their control.

Pakistan is already a pariah in the community of nations, thanks to its tolerance of extremist terrorism, and its export of militancy. Imagine the doors that will be finally and firmly barred to all bearers of green Pakistani passports. And if we think the world will accept the nightmare scenario of our nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of the TTP, we need to think again.

For years, there has been endless chatter in our TV studios about the Americans wishing to neutralise our nuclear facilities. This is guaranteed to happen should the Taliban take over. I’m sure this would not be a bloodless campaign, but I don’t think the rest of the world will shed too many tears.

The minorities might as well pack their bags and apply for asylum to whichever country will accept them. Non-Muslims, or to be more specific, non-Sunnis, are already treated like second-class citizens.

The Taliban have given the Kalash an ultimatum: convert or we kill you. It’s only a matter of time before churches, temples and other places of worship are shut forever.

Me? I’ll just grow a beard and order above-the-ankle, Taliban-style shalwars.


The above article from Dawn is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use