The Taliban have, through their actions, demonstrated the untruthfulness of Pakistani apologists of the Taliban, both within and outside the government. These propagandists had argued that it the Taliban had changes and we now have a “new, civilized Afghan Taliban” – in the words of Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
The violence and barbarity with which the Taliban have acted over the last few weeks, however, belies these statements: Taliban have brutally killed soldiers who surrendered, blown up dams and schools, tortured and killed Afghan interpreters and so-called American sympathizers, and demanded lists of all unmarried or widowed girls and women between 15-45 years of age to marry them off to their fighters.
Yet, not just Pakistani officialdom but mainstream journalists and large segments of Pakistani social media appears to be welcoming the Taliban’s impending accession to power.
Professor Aasim Sajjad Akhtar in a recent column in Dawn argues that “An elite-led ‘consensus’ is once again in the offing to transform the Taliban and those of their ilk into ‘good Muslims’ whilst rendering those of us who resist patriarchy, militarism, ethnic-national oppression and brazen class privilege as ‘bad Muslims’.”
Using Anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani’s thesis, Akhtar states that in Pakistan “the ‘good Muslims’ are who wine and dine with both the domestic and global ‘one per cent’. They remain ‘good Muslims’ despite associating with Western governments who fan the flames of Islamophobia in their own countries. Meanwhile, the rest of the local ‘1pc’, including but not limited to influential clergymen, real estate tycoons and uniformed state personnel, commit crimes against the meek at will, while enforcing religious dictates for the rest of us.”
Akhtar warns that Pakistan has “been down this road before. It ends badly, leaving even relatively well-to-do women at the whims of vicious, wealthy and unaccountable men.”