Connect to share and comment
What we don't know is killing us.
The Pakistani Taliban
Rustam Shah, who served as Pakistan’s secretary of the interior and dealt with Afghan refugees closely and later served as ambassador to Afghanistan and has close links to the Afghan Taliban, believes the Pakistani Taliban has very different goals from the Afghan Taliban.
He believes the Pakistani Taliban grew out of a reaction to the Pakistani military’s fateful decision and bungled strategy to send national troops into the tribal areas in defiance of treaties that gave the frontier provinces autonomous rule.
He said prior to the military incursions, there was a vast neglect of the institutions of justice in the tribal areas. The Pakistani Taliban flourished amid the failures of governance. And although he supports the military confrontation of the Pakistani Taliban, he believes it has been mishandled.
“We have to focus on reviving the civil institutions. The military offensive has created a great sense of despondency and it may serve to help the Taliban in Pakistan. I think it comes at a tremendous cost to the country. The scars will never heal. Hearts and minds have been lost. This is a civil war-like situation and I fear further destabilization,” said Shah.
The rise of the Pakistani Taliban cuts across the Durand line, the 1,600-mile border that separates Afghanistan and modern-day Pakistan and which was drawn through the tribal area after the British empire’s two, unsuccessful wars in Afghanistan.
The area that straddles the line is sometimes called Pashtunistan, a rugged, mountainous landscape made up of small, remote villages and towns that are home to an estimated 40 million Pashtuns.
The Taliban has maintained its hold in these communities largely by playing on the ethnic loyalties of the Pashtun and by offering what the people here have always required from any local leader throughout the ages: security, a swift system of justice and freedom of movement for trade.
For the last 15 years, when I am traveling in Pakistan on my way into Afghanistan, I always stop in the Silk Road town of Peshawar to see Rahimullah Yusufzai.