Pakistani Taliban ‘fellow travellers’ meet Pakistani Taliban (TTP) representatives to decide what we, the non-Taliban type Pakistanis, will have to live through. Personally, I have nothing but sympathy for the rank and file of the Taliban. The poor chaps live in caves, no ‘sui’ gas to heat their humble abodes in winter and no air conditioning to cool them in summer. Worse, even in the middle of the harsh winters, they have to march along in their shalwars (baggy trousers) hitched up knee high, exposing them to the risk of frost bite. They even keep blowing themselves up to prove a point, whatever that point might be.
Forget about political philosophy, winning against an ‘enemy’ capable of living and fighting under these conditions is impossible. The US learned that lesson fighting against the Vietcong led by the late General Giap. So, as far as I am concerned, the Taliban are coming. How far and to what extent remains to be seen.
However, I often do wonder what the Taliban do for fun. The ‘liberal fascist’ media concentrates on activities like beheading soldiers, lining people up and shooting them for being Shia and other such that the Taliban seem to enjoy. In the list is perhaps included imposing sharia and doing all sorts of bad things to those who do not comply. I have a slight suspicion that the TTP wants to impose sharia just so they can do bad things to non-compliant heretics, for fun of course.
We know that most of the Pakistani Taliban come from different seminaries where they live rather constrained lives with other males. That might suggest the reason why most of them have ‘no use’ for women and seem to have an irrepressible urge to kill or mutilate them for the most trivial reasons. So, it would seem that interaction with women is definitely not their idea of fun. The one thing that is obvious about the Taliban is that they enjoy doing things that most of us ordinary folks would find a little difficult to accept. And for me that is about the only problem I have with Taliban-type sharia being enforced in Pakistan. It will become a glum place to live in. We saw a bit of it under the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province a few years ago and then saw a much more intense version in Swat when the present leader of the TTP was just ‘Mullah Radio’.
Fear mongers suggest that all of Pakistan will become like Swat under Mullah Radio. That the only source of public amusement will be public hangings and beheadings, floggings and stoning half-buried women. No I do not think it will come to that but we will definitely, if I may be permitted a neologism, have further ‘glumification’ of Pakistan.
Considering the Sami-Siddiqui show, its only purpose in my opinion is to delay any serious armed conflict and tamp down terrorist activity till at least the end of the government elected last year. That will give enough time to this group of ‘kleptocrats’ to accumulate much more wealth before they withdraw to their palaces and mansions in London and Dubai leaving ordinary Pakistanis behind to deal with the Talibanisation of Pakistan. So what about us ordinary folk?
Frankly, the Pakistan army will not accept a ‘TTP emirate’ in Pakistan but the army might accept some glumification. Of course, the TTP will definitely want movies and much of television to be banned along with most cultural activities including stage plays and music concerts. They will also demand that the internet be restricted even further, coeducation be forbidden and women to appear in public only wearing all encompassing shrouds. However, there might be unintentionally amusing side effects.
Hair replacements, including wigs and toupees, along with any hair dye except henna must of course be forbidden as being non-compliant with the sunnah. That will cause a moderate amount of consternation among many of our worthies. If all males beyond a certain age are forced to grow a beard, it would indeed be quite amusing to see Imran Khan with orange hair and an orange beard. And concerning Sheikh Rashid and our ‘Minint’ of the perpetual hair, we might actually get to see what they really look like.
I am sure that by the time any of that comes about, all the worthies mentioned above will have withdrawn to greener pastures. Of the lesser worthies who choose to stay, most of them will go off to the pleasure land of Dubai every so often to have some fun before returning to the land of the glum. As far as the poor are concerned they will still be where they have always been, fighting for survival. For these unfortunate souls, Talibanisation will not provide them with a better life.
And that brings me to my pet peeve. All this talk of sharia entirely excludes any mention of the Islamic welfare state where every citizen was assured a living wage under the law. If indeed what is expected is proper income distribution and an adequate safety net for all citizens then I might just be slightly more enthused about imposition of the TTP brand of sharia. However, the way the Taliban fellow travellers talk, it seems that besides banning everything that might be fun, the only other thing that concerns them is women. They do not want women in the movies or on television, they do not want women in the workplace, they do not want women to be seen in public except in shrouds, they do not want women to get an education and they definitely do not want coeducation.
It is obvious that the TTP will never be able to impose anything like what they did in Swat in a country as big as Pakistan and they definitely cannot kill all the Shias or all followers of different Sufi saints. However, if they are willing to settle for more intense expressions of public piety then that is happening already.
The writer has practised and taught medicine in the US. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org