Who is behind the Taliban..?
This question is a hotly debated one. Different people answer it differently. Answers to this vary from Pakistan Army, ISI, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Iran etc. In fact some people in Pakistan may even believe the Indian RAW is behind Taliban.
A striking feature of Taliban is not just their beards but their strict rule of law. That too, implementation of their version of Islamic Shariat. That their laws are age-old and penetrate grave injustices against women, when viewed from modern times is another matter. Still when Taliban ruled Afghanistan, Afghanistan was peaceful.
Wherever they are, they are against drugs, alcohol, robbery and piracy. That they extend it to music, cinema and all other arts and entertainment is the problem. In the medieval period, Taliban would have been a refreshing, reforming force for the human civilization. But then they are still stuck there.
While what sustains the Taliban may be their ideology, what drives them is not ideology. It is their guns and the power they savor.
From where do they get them..?
CIA: The father of Taliban
Though Pakistan’s ISI mothered the Taliban, the credit of fathering the Taliban goes to CIA. In its efforts to curb the Russian influence in Afghanistan, CIA collaborated with die-hard Islamic extremist elements inside ISI, giving rise to the Taliban.
While Taliban is a force that was born out collaboration of two different objectives, the puritan Islam as an ideology is what grew Taliban to its present strength. Today it is a mature adult force, not dependent on father or mother, in fact capable of overthrowing them.
While Taliban has lot of support from its mother, the ISI, it may not necessarily listen to its mother all the time, as Taliban have their own objectives. As any young adult, Taliban views its friendship with Al-Qaeda, the rogue force propped up by Saudi money, as more important than the motherly relationship it has with ISI. Hence it is uncontrollable.
Pakistan Army: The first God-Father of Taliban
Since the time Taliban’s relation with its father, the CIA, got estranged, the Pakistani Army has been acting as the God-Father of Taliban. It provided the wherewithal for Taliban to sustain the combined onslaught of Taliban’s opponents.
In fact Pakistani Army is the reason why Taliban rode victoriously from dingy mosques in Peshawar to Capital city of Kabul. But Taliban got the friendship of Al-Qaeda and grew up ideologically on its own. Till it got the friendship of Al Qaeda, Taliban was focused on Afghanistan alone.
When Taliban’s friendship with Al-Qaeda reached great heights the God father became aloof, at least to the outside world. After 9/11, the God Father appeared to maintain equi-distance from Taliban as well as Al-Qaeda, but did not deter them from their goals and ambitions.
Even today, Pakistan Army, in particular its top generals, who now are keeping aloof, as they are not in power now, can influence Taliban heavily. But they won’t do it. Since the responsibility for handling Taliban is with Civilian Prime Minister, military will not move an inch to influence the situation.
At the same time, Taliban may not listen to the military at all, though some secret funding channel has been established from Saudi Arabia to Taliban through ISI and Pakistan Army.
Clergy of Pakistan: The Competition to being the God Father
Clergy of Pakistan desires to emulate the Iranian model of democracy. It has exploited the failure of western style of democracy in Pakistan for all these years. The force that stops it from its aim is the military. Pakistani military has a strong tradition of ruling the country and the Clergy in Pakistan also has no leadership like that of Ayotollah Komeni.
Successive failures of dictatorships and western style democracy has pushed more and more of Pakistani people, particularly the poorer sections towards the Clergy.
The Clergy of Pakistan has always been the route with which Saudi money was routed into Pakistan for political parties as well as military bosses. Thus it was a money broker for all practical purposes.
By positioning itself between the Taliban, Military, Political Parties and Saudi Arabia, the clergy of Pakistan has acquired a new status of power broker. It wants to expand its influence with the help of elements in ISI. Pakistan Military is sure to oppose this. But it all depends on individuals and their affinities to each other.
Saudi Arbia: The uncle of Taliban and Pakistan Political Parties
There is an uncle to every Pakistani. That Uncle is Saudi Arabia. Almost all major political parties go to Saudi Arabia, when they discuss anything between them. Every political deal of Pakistan is brokered in Jeddah and not in Islamabad.
Though the Saudi’s appear to toe the line of Americans to safe-guard themselves in power, they have a vested interest in keeping forces such as Taliban and Al Qaeda alive or looking the other way, when they commit atrocities.
In the post cold war era, if Taliban and Al Qaeda are not alive, then the Americans have no reason to support the dictatorships of the middle-east. In fact Americans have an urgent need to promote western style democracy in middle-east. They have been pressurizing their middle-east allies to slowly get into some form of democratic setup.
The reason is Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran is the only democratic country in the entire middle-east. From Egypt to Syria to Jordan to Kuwait to Saudi Arabia all countries in the middle-east are ruled by same dictators for several decades. Iran is the only country where people power have toppled existing parties in power and brought in new rulers.
Iran’s style of democracy may be different and inferior to Western style democracy. But there is no denying of the fact that Iran is the only middle-east country, where people have changed their presidents every five years. Hence if American’s do not promote their style of democracy, it is highly possible that Clergy based democracy of Iran may spread to other countries. If that happens, American interests will be seriously hampered in the middle-east.
If Saudi Arabia and other dictatorships have to resist these democratizing attempts of the Americans, they need Al Qaeda and Taliban to keep pricking the USA, so that the Americans spend their energy on them and not on promoting democracy in the middle-east.
So Saudis keep all the political parties of Pakistan along with the generals of the Pakistani Army, the clergy of Pakistan and through them even the Taliban in their palm. How much direct or indirect control the ‘Uncle’ has on Al Qaeda is debatable and questionable, but may be some influence is there through the Taliban.
For all public consumption, Al Qaeda is the enemy of Saudi Arabia, though in practice Saudi Arabia may be supporting the Al Qaeda through the Taliban, Clergy and Pakistani Army Generals route.
How can Taliban and Al Qaeda be defeated ?
The only forces in the world capable of defeating Taliban and AlQaeda are the people of Pakistan. Neither the Pakistani army generals, nor the politicians of Pakistan, nor the forces of NATO and the Americans have the capability to defeat Taliban or Al-Qaeda.
But people of Pakistan can.
Sufism has a large impact on the psyche of people of Pakistan. After all unlike the Arabs, Pakistanis are from the Sub-Continent. Hence militant Wahabism is not the style of Pakistan’s Islam. Hence a silent majority of people of Pakistan do not support Talibanisation of their country.
But the tragedy of Pakistan is the absence of a leader who inspires people or atleast have the faith of people to some extent. Almost all political leaders of Pakistan are seen as stooges of the Americans or Saudis and corrupt. After Musharaff, even the army of Pakistan has spoiled its reputation.
Taliban by blending rigid islam with sacrifice, social justice and being against the social evils of the society actually inspire people, particularly the poorer sections of Pakistan.
Hence even when these poor people visit the dargahs, despised by Taliban, they don’t fail to admire or sympathize with Taliban.
The permanent solution to Taliban and AlQaeda problem is the emergence of a strong leader in Pakistan who has the complete support of people and is untainted by corruption and is not seen as a stooge of Americans or Saudis at the same time one who is opposed to Talibanizing Pakistan.
Nawaz Shariff or Iftikar Chowdry can evolve to being such leaders, but not Asif Zardari. In fact this is the reason for which Benazir Bhutto was eliminated. I am sure Nawaz Shariff and Iftikar Chowdry are also on the firing line. Given the current conditions, it is going to be difficult for a civilian leader to emerge on top.
A military coup can bring in a new strong leader who has the sympathies of people and the courage to fight off the Taliban with the full backing of Pakistan’s army. In fact the best thing to happen to Pakistan is the Bangladesh style military coup, backed by military leaders with a civilian face, the face could be Iftikar Chowdry.
Another requirement is for the Americans to dry up the money getting into Pakistan from them directly and from Saudi Arabia. This is the money which feeds the Taliban through the Clergy and some Generals of the Pakistani Army and the extremist elements inside IDI. Americans should put enough pressure on Saudi Arabia to stop all direct and indirect funding into Pakistan, even under the religious or charitable pretext.