|“Talibanisation of Pakistan: From 9/11 to 26/11” is actually a story of Pakistan’s “non-state actors” inducted into state-organised jehad that predated the process of Talibanisation under the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. Going by the book, he states, it is clear that Talibanisation was not something imported from abroad through al-Qaeda, but a sequel of the process of Islamisation of Pakistan starting from the 1980s under General Ziaul Haq writes Khaled Ahmed in his foreword. In his opinion, Pakistan has become what it has due to the consequences of two covert wars it took part in.
SENIOR Pakistani journalist Amir Mir’s latest book titled “Talibanization of Pakistan: From 9/11 to 26/11” has hit book stores. The 422-page insightful book, whose foreword has been written by renowned writer and intellectual Khaled Ahmed, is a depressing account of the present state of affairs in the post 26/11 Pakistan. Published by the New Delhi-based Pentagon Security International, an imprint of the Pentagon Press, the book is a combination of information and analyses of the post-9/11 state of the militant Islam and the jehadi organisations in Pakistan, particularly in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks. The book, dedicated to the former Pakistani Prime Minister Late Benazir Bhutto, takes stock of the present-day Pakistan; eight years after the 9/11 attacks that shook the entire world. It notes that Pakistan, despite being a key American ally in the war against terror for years, continues to be plagued with the peril of the growing Talibanisation.
The book portrays a dangerous and tragic picture of Pakistan, which had been founded by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, a secular and moderate leader, stating that Pakistan has to be part of globalization or you end up with the Talibanization. “Talibanization of Pakistan: From 9/11 to 26/11” is the story of a monster created by the Frankenstein state which is now out to devour its own master. The book is packed with events and anecdotes which, when juxtaposed give a clear view of how individuals as well as institutions have, in their own ways and for their own self-seeking agendas, watched the creation of a jehadi culture. The writer states that Talibanization of Pakistan is in fact the blowback of the country’s powerful establishment’s flawed policy of using jehadi indoctrination to advance its geo-strategic agenda in the region.
However, with the so-called strategic depth no longer in sight, Pakistan’s own social fabric is at risk since al-Qaeda and Taliban currently pose an existential threat to Pakistan itself. As the menace of the Islamic militancy spreads like a jungle fire across the country, the Taliban militia and the al-Qaeda network continues to thrive by evolving a modus operandi that exploits its local affiliates – the Pakistani militant organisations active in neighbouring India, Jammu Kashmir and Afghanistan – to pursue their global jehadi agenda. The writer has attempted to put together the published and unpublished facts about Pakistani militant groups and their leaders, as well as their links with al-Qaeda and Taliban and the role of the Pakistani intelligence agencies. The book can well be described as a mosaic of information on the past and present of the Pakistani militant groups, their historical roots, and a background of their leaders, in such a way that it creates a narrative to help the reader analyse the situation in present-day Pakistan.
The book takes off with the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, stating that the Indo-Pak relations, which appeared to be on course towards normalisation after return of civilian rule in Islamabad in the wake of the 2008 general elections, have touched rock bottom after the Mumbai mayhem, believed to be carried out by a group of 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives. The book then moves ahead to profile almost all the important militant groups in Pakistan which are either active in Jammu Kashmir or in Afghanistan, besides exploring their clandestine links with the Pakistani intelligence agencies and the fugitive leadership of Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The book states that long before the 9/11, which had prompted the US to launch its war on terror; India had been the only country accusing the ISI of fomenting terror in its neighbourhood. When the Pakistani establishment would dismiss these allegations, the international community would mostly accept this logic with the problem being confined to the Indo-Pak subcontinent. This perception, however, has changed drastically, considering the flood of charges from around the world against the ISI since the 26/11 attacks. The book then dwells upon why the decision-makers in the White House keep questioning Pakistan’s role in the war against terror, adding that eight years after the 9/11 attacks, Islamabad’s cooperation on terrorism continues to be under suspicion by the international community.
According to the author, the root of the problem seems to be the ambivalence of the Pakistani establishment vis-‡-vis Islamic militants, and its failure to stop using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. The book states that the religious and sectarian wars are not only being exported to other countries from the Pakistani soil, but they are being fought on the local turf as well, thus threatening the society that maintains them. Consequentially, highly-disciplined and motivated jehadi groups continue to operate in almost every neighbourhood of Pakistan, creating new models of terror such as suicide bombers.
Amir Mir, the writer, maintains that neither Islamabad nor the wider region can hope for any possibilities of peace unless the all-powerful Pakistani establishment decides to abandon employing terrorism as an instrument of state policy to advance its so-called geo-strategic agenda.
“A decisive action to dismantle the Pakistan-based militant organisations active in Jammu Kashmir, India and Afghanistan is a pre-requisite to rehabilitate the writ of the state of Pakistan. It is even more important to restore the confidence of the Pakistani masses in the ability and determination of their elected civilian government as well as the military leadership to curb the growing Talibanisation of Pakistan,” he concludes. He addresses the larger issue of Islamic fundamentalism by tracing the socio-political circumstances due to which Pakistan, as a nation state, got into this quagmire. Staying clear of clichÈ, he chronicles, defines, and places before his readers the various pieces of the jigsaw that, in conjunction with one another, helped create and nurture an Islamic worldview.
His extraordinary first-hand and second-hand reportage takes the reader into mountains and plains, to shanty towns and capitals to know the guerrilla fighters, militant religious leaders, and terrorists.
What makes the book worth reading is the way the writer has treated his subject without sensationalising or patronising it. He has managed, against all odds, to get a fix on a phenomenon that is complex, elusive and kaleidoscopic.