War on Terror
War on Terror

Pakistan's Surrender to the Taliban

By Elan Journo, Voices for Reason Blog

What might Pakistan look like in the years to come? The nuclear-armed country may well look a lot like Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Sounds like hyperbole? Consider the trend now unfolding in Pakistan: the national government struck a so-called peace agreement with Islamist kingpins in the North. In return for promising to end jihadist attacks within Pakistan, the Islamists were given the power to enforce sharia (Islamic law) in the Swat Valley. The Pakistani government recently signed this agreement into law. But as a Washington Post subhead puts it, “After Reaching Deal in North, Islamists Aim to Install Religious Law Nationwide.”

Several months back, when the deal was announced, I suggested that it was an outright surrender. Instead of living up to its stated goal of opposing the Islamists, by defeating them militarily, Islamabad has opted for the losing policy of appeasement — a policy that can only strengthen the jihadists. One concerned observer, a prof at Quaid-i-Azam university, told the Post that “The [national] government made a big mistake to give these guys legal cover for their agenda.”

It’s far worse than that.

To call it a mistake leaves open the possibility of an honest error in pursuit of the right policy. But like other cases of appeasement, the deal in question was predicated on willfully ignoring crucial facts about the goals of the Islamists — goals that are well known. For the last three-odd decades, jihadists all over the world have been vocal in asserting their ultimate aim of expanding Allah’s dominion across the face of the earth. Not alongside other forms of government, but in place of them.

Only policymakers who blinker their eyes and plug their ears could be surprised when one of the Islamist leaders in Pakistan explains the drive for expanding rule by sharia:

The Koran says that supporting an infidel system is a great sin,” Mohammed said, referring to Pakistan’s modern democratic institutions. He declared that in Swat, home to 1.5 million people, all “un-Islamic laws and customs will be abolished,” and he suggested that the official imprimatur on the agreement would pave the way for sharia to be installed in other areas.

The so-called peace deal had to become a piecemeal surrender, given the jihadist vision for society.

When we achieve our goals in one place, we need to struggle for it in other areas,” Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told Pakistani news services by telephone last week. “Sharia does not permit us to lay down our arms if the government continues anti-Muslim policies.” The goal, he said, is to “enforce the rule of Allah on the land of Allah.”

This is the same, tired old song we’ve heard from the likes of Khomeini and bin Laden. By evading the Islamist movement’s nature, Pakistan has handed it a signal victory — the Swat Valley today, plausibly the rest of Pakistan tomorrow.

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