The Taliban are Coming…Does it Matter?

By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS Pakistan Correspondent

2009-04-24T165122Z_01_AAL111_RTRMDNP_3_PAKISTAN-TALIBAN Bashir, a store owner in Lahore Liberty says that it’s not scary to him that Taliban are supposedly moving closer. He says, “We were happy when they came to Afghanistan and help take it away from non Muslims and when they were imposing themselves on our border we were not concerned as a public, but now it’s a problem?” He also added that just because they are physically close does not mean they have any power over the capital or can ever gain any power there. Bashir seems extremely confident about his view and he thinks that this is nothing to worry about at all. “This is just a way to get to our nuclear weapon by trying to scare us into thinking that the Taliban are after it, they are not”. When asked whose trick it might be, he just smiled and said, “Who do you think?”

A school teacher was a little more disturbed by the whole thing. She said that this can be a terrible thing. “I mean look at what they turned the Northern Areas into? We can’t sit around and let them turn our most developed city into ruins as well.” When asked why some people don’t seem disturbed by these new changes all she could say was, “I can’t even imagine why someone would not be worried.

A student from a leading university seems to think that it is all useless. He believes that it will all stay the way it is and that whether the Taliban are covering more ground or not doesn’t matter because things always stay the same in Pakistan. When I inquired why he has such a glum look on the situation and he answered, “just look around you will find that noting much changes in our country, it gets from bad to worse and then goes back to bad again, its like bad is the normal status around here”.

Most people were disturbed by the new events but they seemed un-moved. They seemed to think that it doesn’t matter. Even if the are around and closer things wont change much. “Yes, the Taliban have been killing and spreading terrorism”, one school principal explain, “However, at his time what difference does it make? It’s anyone’s game right now; everyone is treating this piece of land as his own back yard and doing as they please.”

When questioned about how much faith the public has in the Pakistan army there was also mixed emotions there as well. Rubina, a beautician says that our army has been good at keeping us safe but she wonders if it’s really fair to put them up against their own people. Sure the Taliban have create trouble for us but still it must be she believes it must be difficult to bring up arms against ones’ own countrymen.

Huma does not think that people who spread terrorism are anyone’s countrymen and the army should not even think twice about fighting against them. When I asked this university student how she would personally feel if someone she cares about, such as her brother or father, was in the same situation. She was not sure about that, “it wouldn’t feel like war, it would feel like killing I guess” she said of her own family members battling the Taliban.

These answered confused me so I took all of these and other answers similar to these to a psychiatrist and asked him what he thought of all this. There is so much confusion as to who we consider the bad guy that I wouldn’t know who to trust. Our specialist prefers not to be named but he did help clear things up a little bit. He clearly said that since these people look like us it is really hard to consider them as the evil ones. “If we think that they are evil who look just like us then that means anyone can be evil, it could be our neighbor, our best friend, that makes us insecure.” He also said that this is the dilemma our army is facing as well. We should not blame them for hesitating or even refusing to fight against their own people some times.

On the same token some times these feelings of bonding with our own people make us justify the wrongs that are committed by our own people. We are not able to admit that we have bad people among us and many times we end up blaming outside forces rather then tackling the real problem right at home. He does go on to add that this does not mean outside forces are not at play and are not responsible for the current situation, at least partly.

So, what is the solution? He was just as stumped as you and I. “I am still looking, in the mean time if you find a cure for pure hatred and terrorism make sure I am the first one you call.”


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