Taliban Propaganda

Taliban

Imran Khan has objected to being called ‘Taliban Khan’, but it is a fact that he has supported the Taliban’s war against the state in Afghanistan. The PTI chief told reporters that he believes Taliban are fighting legitimate jihad against foreign occupation. He has also famously demanded that TTP be allowed to open an office in Pakistan. Now another celebrity has taken up the pro-Taliban position. Hamza Ali Abbasi posted on Facebook singing Taliban’s praises.

Hamzi Ali Abbasi Facebook post

It is not an unusual statement as many are praising the Taliban for freeing Shahbaz Taseer. However, the Taliban have strongly denied that they were involved.

“We are unaware of the incident. Our Mujahideen had never been involved in it. We had neither held him (Shahbaz Taseer) nor recovered him,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said. When asked about reports that the Taliban have issued a statement confirming the rumours, Mujahid told The Express Tribune, “This is baseless. We have not issued any statement as the issue does not relate to us and no question arises to comment on it,” he said.

This raises the question, who were media’s “reliable sources” that were pushing the narrative that Taliban were the heroes of the Shahbaz Taseer rescue?

The appearance is that individuals in influential circles that would be considered a reliable source of Taliban movements in restricted areas were acting as Taliban propagandists and trying to white wash the Taliban and especially Haqqani Network by fooling people that they played an important role in freeing Shahbaz.

So who is trying to give the appearance that Taliban, and especially those factions that have been very close to ISI, are heroes, and what are they trying to accomplish? Who would have the media connections to plant such fake stories that try to make the Taliban into heroes? It is a question that will probably never be officially answered.

 

Shahbaz Taseer’s Return and What Comes Next

Shahbaz Taseer

Shabaz Taseer has been returned after being kidnapped nearly five years ago. This is good news both for his family who have suffered immensely in recent years at the hands of extremists. However, for Pakistan more generally, Shahbaz’s rescue raises some difficult questions.

When Shahbaz Taseer was kidnapped off the streets of Lahore in 2011, no one took responsibility. It wasn’t until 2012 that TTP admitted responsibility. Two years ago, officials announced they would begin negotiations with TTP commanders that included demands for return of both Shahbaz Taseer and Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son Syed Ali Haider Gilani. Today it appears that those negotiations have paid off, at least partly. Word on the fate of  Ali Haider Gilani is now anxiously waited.

So what is wrong with it? Hopefully, there is nothing, but there are questions that are rising. For example, reports had long stated that Shahbaz was being held by TTP in Waziristan, but according to Aitzaz Goraya, head of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Balochistan, he was recovered from a compound in Kuchlak area of Balochistan.

This is worth noting because Kuchlak is an area that has had a strong presence of Afghan Taliban. Security forces have also arrested dozens of TTP militants in Kuchlak also. Questions are now being asked whether the kidnappings were done by Afghan or Pakistan Taliban. Whether he was moved from Waziristan also raises questions such as how Taliban are able to move so freely from Lahore to Waziristan to Quetta without being detected. People are also asking whether the close living relations between “good” Afghan Taliban and “bad” Pakistan Taliban in Kuchlak is more evidence that there is really no difference between the two.

Today, the nation is relieved that Shahbaz Taseer has been released. However, we must remember that this is not the end of the story. We still pray for the safe recovery of Ali Haider Gilani. We also pray that the state stop playing favourites and rid the country of all extremists so that no more families are forced to suffer such pain.