Fighting The Talibanization Of Pakistan

Death at the hands of Taliban attackers has become a daily occurrence in Pakistan—and yet it’s ordinary people, not the government, who are intent on fighting back.

Paula Bronstein/Getty

The Pakistani Taliban struck again this time with a deadly attack at the Karachi airport last Sunday. An hours-long battle with security forces left more than 28 people dead. This is just the latest and by far one of the most high profile attacks by the Taliban.

How much more can Pakistan suffer before the government acts?

Pakistani citizens are the ones who attend innumerable funerals and tackle suicide bombers, choosing to die in order to save our schools and schoolmates. We take bullets to our heads and scream Iqra, or “Read,” the first word of the Quran to their faces, emphasizing the importance of education in our religion, the same religion that the Taliban has conveniently distorted and hijacked.

The country has suffered innumerable terrorist attacks at the hands of the Taliban. Nearly 900 schools have been destroyed at their hands since 2009. Religious minorities, innocent children such as Malala Yousafzai and Aitzaz Hassan to name a few, and places of worship including the mosques have been sacrificed at their hands. The military and media itself has suffered numerous outright attacks.

I also have come close to a Taliban threat.

I have a radio show about Pakistan and have had many guests discuss the Talibanization of my native country.

As a Pakistani journalist in the U.S., you never know if your ‘source’ is legitimate or if it is someone sent your way to spy on you. Once, during a live broadcast, I was sent a message through a journalist working in Pakistan from a Taliban spokesperson. He said that I was being watched and my impartial journalism was appreciated.

It sent a chill down my spine because when it comes to the Taliban and terrorism, my coverage and stance is anything but impartial. I knew instantly the statement really was a threat, and why it was passed on with such haste.

My show that particular day was about the alleged ties between the Taliban, the Pakistani government and the Inter-Services Intelligence, or the main government intelligence agency.

The Karachi airport attack was bound to happen. It shouldn’t surprise the government or Taliban apologists.

Karachi is the economic hub of Pakistan. By weakening this city, the Taliban can easily gain a stranglehold on the economy of the country, further destabilizing the nation. If Karachi is taken over by the Taliban it means no finances to run Pakistan—that means the war on terror is lost.

At this point, given the severe turn that this situation might take, Pakistan needs to join hands with its allies at this point, which includes the U.S. and neighbors like India, China and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s war on terror is not just its alone anymore.

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Pakistan needs to revisit, revise and improve its foreign relations to ask for support if needed. The U.S. needs to help Pakistan stabilize its military and strategic support in Karachi and help play a role in the dialogue process between Pakistan and the neighboring countries which are also US allies in the war on terror.

Pakistan needs to keep other South Asian countries on the same page also. The U.S. needs to understand the magnitude of this situation in Pakistan if it wants to win the war on terror.

Death at the hands of the Taliban has become a daily affair for Pakistan and account after account of their deadly attacks pepper the news every day.

The Pakistani people, themselves, are fighting the Taliban and have done what they can by forming pressure groups and by defending their fellow citizens.

Local Muslims in Peshawar, formed a human shield surrounding Christian worshippers at All Saint’s Church after the country’s deadliest attack on Pakistani Christians last fall. The same gesture was repeated by citizens against the Taliban at numerous churches throughout the country by the locals of the respective areas.

Thank you, Taliban, for killing the coward in all of us.

Pakistan is clearly in the midst of a civil war, except only one side seems to be fighting it. That side has a clearly defined objective and acts on its statements. It knows who its enemy is. It knows its targets. The government does not.

Without a clearly defined objective and hard action, there is only one outcome…the Taliban wins.