Why is the Pakistani Society ambivalent about the militants? The fact is that a large number of Pakistanis see Taliban doing what they think are some extremely good and some extremely bad things which cause them to not be able to decide whether they are on the balance a blessing or an evil. A brief analysis of the two aspects of them would help in understanding the real problem many Pakistani Muslims are going through in their minds.
Most of the Pakistani Muslims have formed an idea through their religious learning of what a good Muslim is. They see in the extremist militants living examples of what a devout Muslim should be like, both in appearance and religious commitment. While ordinary Pakistanis would like to be practicing Muslims themselves, saying their prayers regularly, leading a simple life, following God’s law completely, they find the ideal difficult to be achieved either because they are not strong enough or because their environment is not conducive or because of a combination of both reasons. While they see that they are struggling to come closer to the ideals of religion, Taliban are leading a very tough life following them to please their God. They conclude that they have no right to criticize the militants who have achieved a very high level of religiosity to which they can’t even imagine to come anywhere close.
The majority of ordinary Pakistani Muslims consider Jihad as an important part of the requirement of their faith. They are not very clear about what it entails but they vaguely know that it is a holy war that is fought against non-Muslims to achieve supremacy of Islam. While they are unsure of what the conditions of Jihad are, they don’t want to blame their Muslim brothers who have decided to put their lives at stake for it, supremacy of Islam, and dominance of Shari’ah law over the entire globe. Rather than criticize the militants for what they are sincerely doing even if their arguments are not fully clear, they want to quietly admire them.
Another merit they see in Taliban is that they aren’t hypocrites. Unlike many Pakistanis, they speak what they believe is the truth no matter what the consequences are. They are willing to lay down their lives for what they consider to be the truth. The Taliban also promise quick justice which ordinary Pakistanis don’t get in their society. It is an attractive slogan for a justice-starved nation which sees quick and genuine provision of it as a basic requirement of an Islamic society.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the situation that confuses many Pakistanis is that while Taliban always quote Qur’an and Hadith to justify their acts, Pakistani politicians, journalists, and even scholars are either avoiding to present any religious arguments or even if they are doing it, they are not as clear and to the point as Taliban are. Since these sources are considered the right way leading to the true understanding of our religion, their commitment to the cause of Islam appears to be far more impressive than that of the rest. Even if they are making mistakes of interpretation and judgment, they still don’t deserve condemnation and annihilation, especially when the ones they are fighting with seem no where close to them in their religious commitment.
However, the Taliban have another side of them as well which is what makes Pakistani Muslims not fully convinced that they are genuine representatives of Islam.
One huge problem with the Taliban is their disrespect for human life. Their inhuman, barbaric, and beastly attitude towards human life is what threatens to wash away every aspect of their apparent virtue. Killing innocent people on the basis of irrelevant, unconvincing arguments and disrespecting corpses has become such a norm for them that a common Muslim feels disgusted and wary of their existence. The fact that they cause innocent minds to be brainwashed to resort to suicide bombing is a further evidence of their disrespect for human life. Their barbaric acts make a mockery of their ideology. They have in fact caused rewards of the paradise to be mentioned as a joke by some people who quite often see those rewards mentioned as the motivation behind their insane acts.
The brand of Islam they have presented is so impractical and rigid that it has become very difficult for a common, intelligent Muslim to associate himself with it. Women seem invisible in their societies. Education of girls seems to threaten their sense of dignity. Extreme punishments of Shari’ah which were meant to be given in an ideal society where inclination to do evil was minimal are inflicted by them after following a very shady investigation process. Music and images of living beings are not allowed by them even though Hadith condemned only their evil aspects. Their leaders destroyed statues in Bamyan, Afghanistan even though the companions of the prophet didn’t touch the religious statues of the places they invaded.
Another ugly aspect of the Taliban is their unbending attitude. Whenever they would appear on media it would seem that discussion with them is not getting through anywhere. They seem to have made up their mind on the matters they deem are their ideals. If Qur’an and Hadith are presented to them from the other side, they have a ready, firm answer already prepared with them. They consider all religious views other than their own untenable, worthy of condemnation, and heretic.
Indeed one of the biggest problems of Taliban is that they are not prepared to see the point of view of others if it is different from what they have already learned. This one problem has caused them to be highly stubborn in their approach. However, one can’t blame just the Taliban for showing that approach. Most religious people of our society are afflicted with it. In the case of Taliban however the evil of this irrational religious approach has gone beyond acceptable limits which is worrying religious Pakistanis, even though they themselves are unmistakable models of it at less damaging levels.