Pakistan’s future is tied to the Taliban

Twelve years ago, a few weeks into the occupation of Afghanistan, I suggested (in these pages) that the euphoria aroused by an easy conquest was misplaced. It would be a long war and one of its side effects would be to seriously destabilise Pakistan. Unfortunately, events have not contradicted the analysis. The spillover into Pakistan has been creating havoc for years. The view that this has nothing to do with Afghanistan is too shallow to deserve serious consideration.

It’s no secret that, since 9/11, successive governments –Musharraf, Zardari and now the Sharif brothers – have agreed to US drone attacks and been aware of covert CIA operations being carried out in Pakistan. Opinion polls, however, reveal that a large majority of Pakistani citizens are opposed to US policies. The capitulation of liberal secular parties to Washington left the field wide open to armed groups of religious fundamentalists, who began to challenge the state’s monopoly of legitimate violence, presenting themselves as defenders of both Islam and the victimised Pashtuns in Pakistan. Their claims are false.

Last year alone the TTP (Pakistani Taliban Movement), the largest of the armed fundamentalist groups, carried out hundreds of attacks in different parts of the country, massacring several hundred innocents and half that number of security and military personnel. Who were the dead? Christians in Peshawar, Shias in other parts of the country, naval ratings in Karachi, intelligence operatives, and policemen and soldiers everywhere. Read more