On 23-Feb-2014, MQM held a massive anti-Taliban rally, attended by more than 150,000 people, in which Altaf Hussain (MQM Leader) said:
“The Taliban are a cancer for Pakistan, and the Taliban is a cancer for humanity…. They must be rejected, and destroyed.”
The next day, Altaf Hussain gave an interview to Pakistan’s Samaa TV channel. In this interview, he called for the elected Nawaz Sharif government and the Pakistan Army to “get on the same page” with regards to eliminating the Taliban terror threat. Altaf Hussain went to on to say that, if Nawaz was reluctant to fight the Taliban, then the Pakistan Army should step in.
To anyone accusing Altaf of inviting a Military Coup, he said his response is “Let them! I couldn’t care less”.
Nawaz’s Pakistan Government is ineffectual, as it was under PPP-Zardari.
Pakistanis (particularly Punjabis/Sindhis) forget the conditions under which previous Army takeovers occurred. For example, as I argued in a recent article “The Fall of Bhutto“, the circumstances of the time meant that General Zia had no option but to remove the murderous tyrant Bhutto from power. In today’s example, the Nawaz Government is proving itself unwilling to take on the Taliban, like the Zardari government before it. If this continues, MQM believes that there is no alternative to the Army intervening in order to fight the Taliban.
Why is Nawaz Sharif unwilling to take on the Taliban?
Punjab Province in Pakistan accounts for more than 50% of the population and electoral seats. Nawaz Sharif’s government won a clean sweep in Punjab, and holds a parliamentary majority on that basis. Nawaz won almost no seats outside Punjab. Nawaz is reluctant to fight the Taliban because it would mean him losing his electoral support in Taliban-supporting Punjab province.
Many of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organisations (SSP, LeJ, JuD, JeM, Punjabi Taliban, etc) openly operate their headquarters in Punjab. Hafiz Saeed, a wanted terrorist whose Punjabi LeJ group carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, roams free in Punjab, occasionally addressing huge crowds. There is enormous popular support for the Taliban in Punjab.
All levels of Punjabi society are renowned for the support for Jihadi terrorism. When Salman Taseer (Politician calling for amendment to Blasphemy Law) was killed by his bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri, Punjabi lawyers showered Qadri with rose petals. More than 300 Punjabi lawyers offered pro bono support to Qadri. Similarly, when Punjabis Sunnis (majority) massacre Shias, Ahmadis and Christians, there is no particular Punjabi outcry.
The Taliban have never attacked Punjabi Sunni civilians (the majority of Punjab). They only attack Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, and security installations in Punjab. Therefore, Punjabi support for the Taliban has remained intact.
I look forward to seeing what the Pakistan Army’s reaction is. Pinprick attacks and cosmetic manoevres will not be sufficient. Only total elimination of the Taliban and their Jihadi infrastructure will do. The Pakistan Army must be prepared to fight the Taliban wherever they are in Pakistan. This includes Punjab province, where all terrorist organistations must be eliminated.
In case any foreigners are unaware, Pakistan Army high command is almost entirely Punjabi, as is the vast bulk of its manpower.