Taliban still ‘alive and kicking’ in Afghanistan


By Khalid Hasan
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

WASHINGTON: The Taliban still live in the rugged hills along the Pakistan frontier and increasingly attack deep inside Afghanistan, with new training camps “where holy warriors are being trained to kill Americans”, according to an article in the Boston Globe on Tuesday.

Columnist HDS Greenway writes that President Pervez Musharraf, who threw his lot in with the west after 9/11, has been quick to arrest foreign Al Qaeda members “when he can”, but it is more difficult to crack down hard on the remnants of the Taliban who are kin to the tribesmen of the frontier provinces, who have traditionally acted independently of all Pakistani governments. While Pakistan has put 75,000 troops on the frontier, with 250 of them killed, Al Qaeda and the Taliban still find refuge there. Difficult as it may be physically and politically, more needs to be done to deny the Taliban a safe haven in Pakistan, he suggests.

Greenway writes “The problem is that jihadi culture is woven so deep into the national fabric that it is hard to pluck it out. Musharraf has repeatedly called upon his countrymen to turn away from extremism and embrace ‘enlightened moderation.’

He knows that something must be done about schools that teach nothing but the Quran, and too often hatred. He also knows, as Boston University’s Hussain Haqqai, a former adviser to two previous prime ministers, points out, that these madrassas ‘used to make people medieval, but not radical. That changed when they began to be used by the military for its strategic objective,’ both in Afghanistan and in the Indian-controlled areas of Kashmir.”

According to the columnist, Musharraf has made arrests and ordered all the estimated 13,000 madrassas to submit to official inspection by the year’s end.

He would like as well to crack down on foreigners attending them. He has also made efforts to curb the infiltration of jihadis into Kashmir and is making progress with India to find a solution to the Kashmir problem that has caused so much strife between Pakistan and its giant neighbour.

“But again, there is enormous internal resistance to the reforms Musharraf is trying to make, and there may be elements within the Pakistani intelligence who do not want him to succeed. After a number of assassination attempts, Musharraf is now fatalistically telling people that it is a question of when, and not if, assassins will strike again.

For all Musharraf’s difficulties, the Bush administration is right to consider him part of the solution rather than the problem, but he needs continuing support lest his post-9/11 decisions blow back on him.”