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Old Tuesday, May 07, 2013
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Default The Taliban are confused

The Taliban are confused
By Ovais Ahmed Mangalwala

During the last days of his tenure, former interior minister Rehman Malik had warned everyone that banned outfits do not want elections to be held in Pakistan. Although he was not successful at his primary job, which was to stop terrorist activities and bloodshed in the country, he successfully managed to forecast the future. It seems that his prediction is coming true.
Explosion after explosion, death after death and wound after wound is what our countrymen face these days. The election campaign, which was never even in full swing, has become milder. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan continue to misuse religion as a means of destruction but this time, they seem to be confused.
Firstly, the Taliban are confused about which political parties are secular. The basis of their threat against the PPP, the MQM and the ANP trio is that it has a secular ideology. However, they also announced that the PTI and the PML-N will be allowed to carry on their election campaigns. Have they not gone through the manifestos of these two parties, which support Western-style democracy, have not really Sharia law, and have never spoken about banishing the interest-based economic system?
Secondly, the Taliban believe that the PPP, the MQM and the ANP have pro-West agendas as they supported America’s war on terror on Pakistani soil and did nothing to stop drone attacks. But the same Taliban have no problems with the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. They have forgotten that these two parties were a part of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which supported many of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s policies. Whether it was the drone attacks or Nato supplies, both were being carried out under the MMA’s nose during Musharraf’s time.
Thirdly, Pakistan’s Taliban seem to be confused about democracy when they called on voters to rebel against the democratic system. The TTP’s spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said that the “dark night of brutality” would continue if people did not reject the democratic system. In another video, he termed democracy a system of infidels. Here also, the Taliban ignored that the parties not on their hit list, including religious parties, completely support democracy and are pro-elections. It is only Tahirul Qadri’s Tehreek Minhaj-ul-Quran and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek that are somehow in line with Taliban’s viewpoint of boycotting elections.
Another thing, which the Taliban miscalculated, is the benefit they have provided to the parties they are targeting. By attacking the PPP, the ANP and the MQM, the Taliban have actually increased the sympathies of the public for them and diverted the questions being raised on the performance of the coalition government. These parties, instead of explaining to people why they could not deliver in the past five years, are now talking about being victims themselves and trying to convert bloodshed into voting numbers.
The confused actions of the Taliban, instead of winning them success or popularity, are actually going against them. Their supporters, whoever they may be, must also think about what essentially the Taliban want to achieve. Do they actually have a clear agenda or are they just behaving like our politicians, who also beat about the bush instead of targeting real issues?

Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2013.
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