The kaleidoscope of Taliban in FATA & Northern areas of Pakistan is reflecting different picture than what was perceived by Pakistani militarily & religious forces. Here’s the summary of the factions of Taliban engaged in Pakistani area bordering Afghanistan . Even though in South Waziristan Bait ullah Mehsud, under his command t 18 thousands radical fighters are ready, claims to be the head of Tahreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) however in his own area Qari Zain ud din Mehsud is quite against of him.
Molvi Nazir Ahmed holds 10 thousands radical fighters in his command in same area but most of his activities are performed against US & Allied forces in Afghanistan . Due to that many of his colleagues are the prime targets of drone attacks.
In North Waziristan there are many Taliban groups such as Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulana Sadiq Noor along with their 10 thousands militants. Similarly, Jalal Uddin Haqqani, a pro ISI and Pakistan group, runs his religious seminary, is fighting against US forces along with his two sons – Nasir Uddin and Badruddin Haqqani, mostly engaged in Northern Afghanistan .
In Bajor, Zia ur Rehman and Molvi Faqeer Muhammad along with his 4 thousands fighters are engaged against Pakistan Army.
In Darra Adam Khael, Maulana Tariq represents Mehsud’s TTP. In Khyber, Molvi Hakeem Ullah is the representative of Mehsud whereas Mangal Bagh represents Lashkar e Islam; a pro Pakistani militia is engaged in militancy. It is heard that Laskar e Islam first Ameer Haji Namdaar was killed by Bait ullah Mehsud due to certain differences.
In Mehmund Agency, Omar Khalid group is functional and quietly against of Pakistan . Number of suicide attacks was orchestered by this group on former interior minister with a view that Jihad against Pakistan is as important as Jihad in Afghanistan .
In Orakzai agency, Qari Shakeel, a close aide of Bait ullah Mehsud, is quite active. However few Shia Taliban groups such as Haiyderi Taliban are also there to counter Sunni influence. They are also supported by Mehdi Malitia, who is quite dominant in Para Chinaar and Kurram Agency.
Now let’s take Swat Taliban, under the leadership of Molvi Fazlullah with spiritual guidance of his father in law, Sufi Muhammad. He was, literally, expelled from Jamat e Islami NWFP due to his blunt remarks against Pakistani Constitution, Democracy, Election, and higher judiciary in late 80s. Fazlullah has entered into radical Jihad just few years before with no past engagement in Jihad e Afghanistan . His influence starts from Deer up till Shangla with a militia force of 4 thousand activists. It is also worth noting that Fazlullah is not regarding Jihad e Kashmir and had worked out against the Kashmiri fighters being trained in his area, near Deer or Shangla.
Hence we would say that there are more than half a dozen Taliban groups, quite opposite in terms of Pro Pakistan ideology, are active in North and South Waziristan, against Pakistan Army & its Operation with a view that Pak Army is an ally of US in their so-called war on terror and US drone attacks are fuelling this approach fiercely.
A decade before the Islamists had portrayed an entire opposite picture than what is mentioned above. Before that, the guiding force used to be Pro Pakistan idea, which was ruling over all the differences among radical elements.
Islamization is a long awaited-dream for many Pakistanis & religious-political forces since its inception. Even though Quaid e Azam, in his outlook perspective, wasn’t a theocratic however the basic ingredients of Islamization were covered by him during his struggle and they are remain the required elements even today – social justice, peace, prosperity, and a nation with true definition of Ummah!
To achieve this dream, since long religious forces are trying hard. Sometimes they have been used and sometimes they have been termed as terrorists, as being done now days. It’s strange to recall, during 1979-89, while countering Communism in South Asia and Middle East , they were the “loved ones” and have been termed as Mujahdeen (Freedom fighters) by US & Allied nations. Perhaps, if USSR could have devised powerful media campaign against these freedom fighters then they could had been declared terrorists long before the Geneva Accord. However West was in their favour so there was a time when a sitting President of USA used to call one of the Mujahid leader as “My Son, My son!”
Now the time has changed, same allies are now termed as the worst enemies – who are damaging West & USA. Likely, they were the followers of Maududi or Syed Qutub or Abul Hassan Nadwi belonging to Wahabi or Deubandi school ofpractice. From Gulbadeen Hekmat Yar till Osama Bin laden or Aymen Zawahiri – all of them have been influenced by these Islamic Philosophers’ in late last century with a common perception – revival of Islamic movement or pan Islamism in this region. And to achieve this task in a hi-tech world, these Islamists had adopted modern tools – of guerrilla warfare, in which USA had made them masters against USSR with Stingers!
With the success of Taliban in Afghanistan , after the unresolved disputes of Mujahdeens, all eyes were opened. World Trade Centre catastrophe has been used to counter Islamism in Afghanistan , as it is the easiest place to implement Shariah rules, due to their cultural and religious behaviour. Taliban impact is still visible for unbiased forces that they were the one who had achieved peace in 94% of Afghanistan with opium trade went at its lowest during their era.
From Pakistani perspective, the paradox of religious forces are quite complex. Sunni Muslims, predominantly in majority, are having multiple religious & political representatives such as Barelivi, Deubandi, & Ahle Hadiths School of thoughts. Politically Barelvis are represented by number of parties such as Jamiat Ulma e Islam (all groups – Noorani & Niazi), Okarvi religious group or Shah Turab ul Haq’s political party or Sunni Tehreek or Tahirul Qadri faction, all basically belong to Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi school of thought. Another, silent growing majority is their Dawat e Islami group, a faction that is quite non – political and that preaches Quran & Sunnah, from same school of thought.
Deubandis are represented by Jamiat Ulma e Islam, Fazl ur Rehman and Samil ul Haq groups. One can add Jamat e Islami, Dr Israr Ahmed’s Tanzeem e Islami, and likeminded smaller factions within this group as they appeared to be closer to Deubandis, in terms of various interpretations. They have another silent growing majority – Tableeghi Jamat, quite non political but may influence Muslim society invisibly. There’s a minor representation of Ahle Hadith faction also within Pakistan , with number of schools and mosques.
Beside that, organized Shia community, with both political & powerful religious bond exist within Pakistani boundaries.
Over few occasions these religious forces, Sunni, Shias, & Ahle Hadiths, joined hands together politically, by sidelining their internal factional or interpretational differences, such as formation of IJI or MMA or Milli Yakjehti Council to counter the influence of ethnicity or secularism.
The surge of Pakistani Taliban is a new phenomenon for Pakistani religious forces engaged in Jihad e Afghanistan . Even though Deubandi students and schools were mainly involved in Afghanistan along with Jamat e Islami and Pakistan Army, however TTP phenomenon, their actions, approach, and modus operandi, are quite shocking to both - silent religious forces & secular elements of society. Barelvi groups are showing their displeasure over Taliban activities and secular forces are unhappy with them in a sense that they might take over Pakistan swiftly. And, hence the nomenclature of the –poor- country might change its ideology as well as elite-political structure & culture.
This advancement of Taliban was not only alarming for USA or West but also for neighbouring India , who had seen this advancement as a new life for Kashmiri fighters. Hafiz Saeed’s Jamat ud Dawah or Masood Azhar’s Jaseh e Muhammad could give new life to religious forces in India and they are able to sort out their internal issues hence countering Indian influence in Kashmir and other parts of region.
The main task for Pakistani religious forces –now- to cleanse Taliban from Rasheed Dostum secular Tajik or Indian elements, initiate a process to retaliate secular media campaign to portray better image of religious forces, and work out a way to show their union over Islam and Islamic system of governance refraining themselves from sects approach. Another major activity which is much needed now is to make up common men’s mind for Islamic system of punishments (as hands amputation, or stone to death or heads chopping for cruel criminals of society) are in practice in many Arab countries or Iran without much criticism.