There are three groups of Pashtuns fighting the US/NATO and Afghan security forces in Afghanistan – the Peshawar Shura led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the North Waziristan based Haqqani Network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, and the Quetta Shura led by Mullah Omar. All three of them are closely linked with the military establishment of Pakistan.
A section of Hekmatyar’s party has already given up violence and is part of the current Afghan government and parliament. Many of the remaining prominent party leaders are frustrated with Hekmatyar’s rigid stance and have privately said they are willing to give up violence for a peaceful political process.
Hekmatyar’s son in law Ghairat Baheer has recently met Afghan President Hamid Karzai to speed up the process of peaceful political settlement in Afghanistan. The group is therefore likely to have a role in Afghanistan’s future political set-up. But that cannot be said about the other two groups.
The Haqqani Network is led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, but its operations are controlled by his son Sirajuddin Haqqani. The group has attacked US, NATO and Afghan forces, and is also accused of attacking Afghan civilians and development workers sent by India to help rebuild the Afghan infrastructure. The US accuses Pakistan of supporting the Haqqani Network and using it as a tool in Afghanistan.
Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani said last month that Pakistan Army had conducted more than 1,000 military operations in FATA in 2009 and 2010. Pakistan’s Air Force chief had reportedly said in Dubai that more than 10,600 bombs have been dropped on FATA since 2008. But no leading Taliban commanders have been captured or killed in FATA during this period. Those in FATA who are critical of the military establishment say Taliban are not captured or killed, but handed over to leaders of the Haqqani Network.
And while most of the media attention is on Waziristan, a lot of jihadi activities are taking place in the Pashtun belt in Baluchistan. NATO commanders have repeatedly described the area as major command centre for expanding cross-border attacks on the US/NATO and Afghans forces. The Quetta Shura have also been accused of targeted killings of Pashtun tribal leaders and clerics who advocated against Taliban militancy in Pashtun villages in Afghanistan.
Mao Tse-tung once said that guerrilla freedom fighters must live among their people as fish swim in the sea. History shows that almost all genuine guerrilla fighters have come back to fight the foreign aggression amid their people with their help after necessary training abroad. If the Afghan Taliban are so confident of the Pashtun public support in Afghanistan, why don’t they go back to Afghanistan and fight the US/NATO forces with the public support? Why do they sneak in, strike and run back?
In fact Afghans, both Pashtun and non-Pashtun, accuse Pakistan and more specifically the Punjabis of nurturing the insurgents in Afghanistan. Many of the Pashtun in FATA also accuse Pakistan Army of backing the Taliban or not supporting local anti-Taliban forces. Just because the Pakistani media is not showing Pashtun anger does not mean it does not exist on the ground.
The Pashtun nationalists and generally all other anti-Taliban Pashtun from all socio-economic statuses and statures in Afghanistan and Pakistan are well known people in their communities. Their names, faces, addresses, and tribal or family affiliations are there for the whole world to see. They stand firmly on their native soil in the face of Taliban atrocities. Contrary to this, most of the Taliban commanders and foot soldiers do not even show their masked faces in public. The Pashtun people do not even know who is behind those masks – Punjabis, Arabs, Uzbeks, culturally uprooted Muslim immigrant terrorists from the Western countries, or Pashtun outlaws?
Most of the Pakistani Taliban also do not operate in the areas they claim to belong to or represent. The popularity of Mullah Omar, the Haqqanis, Gul Bahader, Mullah Nazir and Mullah Faqir is a myth perpetuated by incompetent researchers. The same analysts had said Mullah Fazlullah was popular in Swat. But the locals welcomed his ouster. Now that he is gone, nobody is protesting. And if Pakistan stops backing other Afghan and Pakistani Taliban commanders, no Pashtuns will protest.
Courtesy: Friday Times