Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

The agony of Pakistan

February 7, 2010


It must take a particularly determined lot to bomb a bus full of pilgrims, killing scores of them, and then following the wounded to a hospital to unleash a second attack to kill some more. Karachi’s twin explosions on Friday, targeting Shia Muslims on their way to a religious procession were on par with some of the worst atrocities committed in recent months.

It also came just two days after a bombing in Lower Dir, near Swat, in which a convoy of soldiers including U.S. servicemen were targeted while on their way to open a girls school. Quite apart from the fact that the U.S. soldiers were the obvious targets, the renewed violence along with fresh reports of flogging by the Taliban calls into question the broader issue of negotiating with hard-core Islamists as proposed by the Afghan government just over the border.

The blog, All Things Pakistan, captured the mood of a despairing nation. “Pakistan remains at war. Whether it school girls in Lower Dir or Shia mourners and those waiting outside Jinnah hospital in Karachi. All Pakistanis everywhere are targets for these murderous enemies of Pakistan.”

“It may be true that we do not have many friends abroad. But it is certainly clear that our cruellest enemies are all amongst us. Day in, day out, they kill and maim and terrorize Pakistanis all across Pakistan. No city is safe. No Pakistani is safe.”

No Pakistani is safe. The BBC ran a chilling story this week about life among the Taliban in which a 13-year-old girl talks about how her father and brother tried to turn her into a suicide bomber. They told Meena she would go to paradise long before they would if she carried out a suicide bombing, She said Taliban commanders used to come to their house, and that would-be bombers, most of them children her age or even younger, would be trained in an underground bunker adjacent to her house.  Children were used for this activity because they were too young to know any better, she said.

She watched her own sister being strapped with bombs and sent to die even while she kept crying for her mother. Later her brother told Meena her sister’s attack was in Afghanistan. And when Meena refused to follow suit she was threatened and beaten. She escaped her fate only after a helicopter gunship struck the family house just as she stepped out to run after a goat. Her house reduced to rubble, she never went back and walked until she reached a town. There is no independent confirmation of her account but police believe she is telling the truth, according to the BBC.

Adding to a grim week, is a report of Taliban militants flogging two men and a teenager in Pakistan’s Orakzai region  A purported video of the flogging shot on a mobile phone has emerged according to the report.

“Using a piece of rope or leather, a militant repeatedly strikes a man who wears trousers but no shirt, and who looks to be covered in dirt or soot. The man at times has to be restrained. He falls to the ground repeatedly, but is hauled back up during the beating,” the report said. Apparently the man was being punished for allegedly working against the Taliban while a teenager was flogged for not wearing  a beard. A third man was punished for not praying.

Strictly speaking these were cases in Pakistan, but they could well be in Afghanistan where President Hamid Karzai, supported by his western backers, has reached out to the Taliban, seeking talks to end the war. Afghan women are outraged by the move, says activist Sahar Saba  in an article in The News.

“It was not the total exclusion of women from public life under the Taliban regime that made them universally unpopular among women. It was the daily insults in full public view handed down by the Taliban as punishment for improper dress (high heels) or improper behaviour (laughing!) that made Afghan women hate the Taliban,” she says.

“One public lashing in the Swat valley shook Pakistan. On the streets of Kabul, it was a daily spectacle on public display.”  She recalls the execution of a burqa-clad woman squatting in the middle of  a Kabul stadium, shot at close-range. The video of that execution, filmed clandestinely by the Revolutionary Afghan Women Association, left little doubt about the brutality of the Taliban.


We are enraged by the inhuman behavior of the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Our natural response is to use all our resources to stop it. The cost to the Western countries embroiled in that effort for 8 or 9 years has been staggering, and progress has been nil. We have to remind ourselves that some things are possible, some are impossible, and rational people can discern the difference. These people whom we call the Taliban are clearly not normal, rational, feeling human beings. There is no way to defeat them or to convert them or to compromise with them. They are lunatics. Life in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan are as they have been for centuries, and will be no different centuries from now. We know this from hundreds of years of history. They are like a swarm of bees. If you leave them alone and let them live their lives the way they are accustomed to, they will leave you alone. Try to change them, move them, interfere in any way, and you simply make them angry and they attack you. The more you interfere, the angrier they become, ranging farther and farther to find victims to attack. By interfering in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq we incite them to attack any individuals or governments within reach, that appear to have any kind of friendly relations with us.

Of course we are horrified by the Taliban’s treatment of women and children. It’s our nature. It’s normal human compassion. But we have to realize it is beyond our control. We’re horrified by the suffering of earthquake and tsunami victims, but we couldn’t have prevented the earthquake or the tsunami, we can’t prevent another one, and we can’t prevent the Taliban from committing their atrocities. We can only leave them alone and hope that the people of the region will overcome. They are the only ones with any possibility of defeating the Taliban. Any “help” from us only makes their task more difficult. We have learned that. We know it. We are certain of it. We can’t doubt it. We have to get out and stay out, and hope the lunatics will someday die out.

Posted by Chuck | Report as abusive

The Taliban and/or other exremists would not be able to undertake their barbaric acts without having access to explosives and weapons, and the funds required to acquire them. The biggest question is where are the terrorists getting the weapons to blow up buses, hospitalsand schools?

We are supposedly pummelling them in Afghanistan, Pakistan is supposedly doing the same within its own territory, so it has to be some third party that is supporting the Taliban’s terrorism.

The only party that benefits from violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan is India. Violence in Afghanistan allows India to project itself as a solution provider, whereas violence in Pakistan weakens a country for which it harbors deep enmity.

If we want to tackle the Taliban effectively and permanently, then we have to shut down Indian presence in Afghanistan, otherwise we will continue to pay in blood for Indian dreams of domination in South Asia.

Posted by Sharafat | Report as abusive

Oh sure, India certainly benefited from Islamic Terrorism on November 28, 2008 (I would like to point out the sarcasm in that statement- The Mumbai Attacks were a travesty to the whole world). It’s always easier to point the finger than finding a solution. No one benefits from these attacks. Not even the Taliban in the long run.

Posted by Neha | Report as abusive

Sharafat, your assertion that “it has to be some third party that is supporting the Taliban’s terrorism” is ridiculous. Terrorists have plenty of ways to gather money, and there are plenty of places for them to buy guns or explosives. Stating – with no supporting evidence – that India “benefits from violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan”, and must therefore be the puppet-masters behind the Taliban, is no help in eliminating this stupid religious bigotry and violence.

Posted by Jim, Leeds, UK | Report as abusive

Do you mean to say that when taliban was attacking russians, it was paid by Indians? Or did India pay for the indian airlines hijack, (and it happened before 9/11)? Till India is blamed for Pak’s problems, solution is not possible

Posted by JS | Report as abusive

outrageous indeed but not religion so who will get their oil and Gas

Posted by Eden and Apple | Report as abusive

Mr Miglani

I have added another name in my list of journalists involved in demonising Pakistan. Unfortunately opportunist like you with their own agenda, including BBC, picks up things out of context to poison otherwise normal minds of ordinary westerners. As Sharafat rightly pointed out, I wish you had done an article advising Pakistan, if you really want some good to happen from your writings, to be cautious of countries filling up taliban resources. A bit of information for your general knowledge, a muslim never despairs. Take a look at muslims’ history, we may have been going through bad times currently but we will rise and rise we shall.


The third party is not India, it is Iran, which borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Posted by Mahmoud | Report as abusive

I think Pakistanis should ask their Army what are they doing about it ,had it been India at their door step would they sit back and let them blow every thing to bits no.They created the Monster during soviet invasion of Afgans WHICH HAS COME HOME TO ROOST.

Posted by anand akela | Report as abusive

Demonising a nation or a people is not the purpose. The article was triggered by the blog All Things Pakistan bemoaning the way violence had taken over the land. Here’s another piece, this time from New Pakistan, that asks if Jinnah’s land has become an intolerant nation. nah-s-pakistan-become-an-intolerant-nati on

Posted by Sanjeev Miglani | Report as abusive

There is plenty of evidence to incriminate India for the violence we see in Pakistan, if you had the courage to be honest and objective. Several captured terorists, as well as documents obtained from raids at their training centers, have revealed the role of Indian RAW secret service in financing, arming and target selection.

Besides, leaders of Balochi terrorist organizations have been received by Indian government officials, and their terrorist organizations have acknowledged receiving help from India.

You keep repeating 11/28 like a broken record, when Indians have perpetrated countless massacres of Pakistanis over the years.

And Miglani, of course you are anti Pakistani and bent on demonizing it and its people. How come your interest is only piqued by negative blogs and reports on Pakistan? Why don’t you look into the fire bombing of Samjhota Express that killed dozens of Pakistanis who were visiting India? How come your curiosity is not aroused about the Pakistani student who last year earned grade “A” in 22 A-levels and won a scholarship to Cambridge, and was accepted at Harvard and Yale as well?

Pakistan’s agony is partly India’s doing, and you ought to focus on the miseries there, and lay off Pakistan.

Posted by Sharafat | Report as abusive

Mr Miglani in my view is anti- no body! The Pakistanis have inherited on their own accord a country with fewer people than India. India on the other hand has no other relevant partner than Pakistan. Perhaps the Pakistanis should adopt the Arabic language as their national language to protect themselves from the Urdu and English speaking Indians.This could separate the two antagonists from blaming each other whenever some thing happens in the region.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

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