“Afghanistan has been Talibanized.”
The Taliban have “occupied” their motherland. They are “uncivilized – primitive, obscurantistic, repressive and retrograde”.
They are averse to the Western values ââof individualism, unbridled freedom, liberal democracy and secularism. They have abolished the country’s âdemocraticâ constitution given by the West and are returning to Sharia law. Ethnic and denominational minorities and women are excluded. Obviously, they lack legitimacy and are not worthy of diplomatic recognition.
This narrative, supposedly dictated by “humanitarian” considerations, is staged by the “free” world, its media, think tanks, NGOs, allies, camp supporters, agents and proxies around the world. Part of Pakistani society fears that the Talibanized Afghanistan poses a serious threat to the country’s religious, political and cultural ethos.
We live in the internet age. It gives the media instant access to everyone and the ability to paint black and white by hammering the same narrative from the same source through seemingly different channels.
Ashraf Ghani was installed by the USA. In the presidential election he received only nine percent of the vote. Almost 130,000 ISAF soldiers, who operated from around 400 military bases, kept him in the saddle. But even with ISAF, supported by the 300,000-strong Afghan national army barracked in another 300 bases, his government’s orders did not extend beyond Kabul. The warlords ruled their respective territories. Allegedly, some NATO / ISAF members even had to buy security from them.
On the contrary, only 75,000 thrown together Taliban fighters have liberated all of Afghanistan without external military help and are in full control. They have shown generosity and flexibility, granted a general amnesty, and appeased minorities and women. However, given its track record, the West has remained skeptical so far. She claims that Ghani has legitimacy and deserves recognition for believing in democracy. But the Taliban neither believed in democracy nor did it deserve recognition.
Discrimination against women has nothing to do with geography, ethnicity, religion, culture or governance. You are nowhere safe on earth.
According to its values, democracy is the rule of the majority. The values ââdiffer from place to place; and even change over time in the same place through a continuous evolutionary process. Values ââmanifest themselves in tradition, culture and governance. Therefore, our colonial rulers and political mentors rightly swear to keep their traditions alive. Their supreme law is also based on tradition. And that’s why we in the West admire and imitate them.
The Taliban also have their values ââand traditions and are entitled to organize their lives accordingly. The mechanism of their governance, jirga and loya jirga, are based on their values. It is derived from the concept of Shura, which is pronounced in Al-Quran (42; 38) and says that the “rule” of the Muslim [in all matters of common concern] is the advice to one another. âThe question arises as to what is wrong with their values. Why do they have to be westernized in order to be civilized? Are they children of a lesser god and do we have permission to decide for them?
We are undoubtedly free to choose – for ourselves. We value our values, which are reflected in our political system and our lifestyle. We love our buzzing nightclubs, vibrant casinos, and exclusive beaches. We pride ourselves on keeping up with the times; redefine the family institution and patronize the oldest profession. Can we allow the Taliban or other Muslim states to lift a finger over our system or our lifestyle? If not, what justification do we have for questioning theirs?
There is no doubt that our concern for Afghan women is not out of place. The fact is, however, that discrimination against women has nothing to do with geography, ethnicity, religion, culture or governance. You are nowhere safe on earth. And the only culprit is the same everywhere – Hobbes’ husband and nature. According to the statistics available, the world’s most insecure women are located in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, India, South Africa and Uganda. We need to prioritize our concerns accordingly.
Let’s agree for a moment that Western democracy is the only panacea for any society. So it must logically be shared with our allies first. But somehow we invariably start with our opponents. We do the same in the case of the emancipation of women and thereby expose our duplicity.
No matter what we do, the Taliban are there to stay, just like the clergy in Tehran, with one difference. The Islamic revolution reverberated through the Arab world and completely isolated Iran. But Talibanized Afghanistan is unlikely to anger its neighbors. Instead, it is likely to play a central role in the emerging Asian bloc, along with Pakistan.
Pakistan presents a fascinating phenomenon. Their founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was a nationalist to the bone. Until 1937 he was hailed as the “Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity”. But he changed his mind and in 1940 vowed to found a country in the name of Islam, which he did within seven years.
Jinnah envisioned Pakistan as a “modern democratic” state in which “religion or caste or creed” had “nothing to do with the affairs of the state”.
It would be “not … a theocratic state ruled by priests with a divine mission”. This was because Pakistan âhad many non-Muslimsâ¦. but they all (were) Pakistanis … In the course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslim, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal belief of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens ” . Its constitution would be “democratic and embody the essential principles of Islam”.
Accordingly, all three of Pakistan’s constitutions embodied the above principles. But somehow different governments have portrayed the country differently: as the epitome of modernity, Islamic socialism, Nizam-e-Mustafa, enlightened moderation and Riasat-e-Madina. One prime minister even toyed with the idea of ââdeclaring himself an Amir-ul-Momineen.
No wonder then that Pakistani society is divided into three different categories: dynamic liberals; violent radicals; and quiet moderates. Liberals dominate the media. Radicals control the street. And moderates rule the country in an absolute majority. Understandably, all three see Talibanization differently.
The westernized liberals and the media predict the Flood. Radicals and the mosque predict the revolution. And the moderates and parliament keep their horses; expect the two to balance each other out.
We live in a global village. Globalization overcomes geographical boundaries. The interaction between agency and structure is both inevitable and imperceptible from a sociological point of view. George Hegel’s (1770-1831) triad – thesis, antithesis and synthesis – is the natural path to progress. Accordingly, Talibanization has developed over the past two decades. It will continue to interact and evolve with the world – and Pakistan, of course. So liberals don’t need to worry!
To make it easier, a former Pakistani prime minister reportedly told the Swedish media in confidence that (even liberal) Pakistanis don’t eat pork; and did not drink – in public. If so, the Talibanization of Afghanistan is unlikely to pose a threat to Pakistan’s religious-political-cultural ethos.
The author is a freelance columnist