Why is it so easy to rage at the Taliban? Why is it so hard to rage at the conditions that gave rise to the Taliban and continue to sustain it
The Taliban is a festering sore on the body politic, oozing rotting and smelly pus. But the sore is a symptom of a much deeper malaise and that malaise has to be identified and addressed.
The Taliban has no regard for targeting 14-year old girls. But where in the rest of Pakistan is there any consideration for girls? Is it in Karachi, where children beg or sell trinkets to take money back to their families where every other member works? Is it in Lahore where teenaged girls sell their bodies to make a living? Is it in Dera Bugti, where girls are traded to settle family feuds?
Malala Yusufzai went to school, that is her crime. It is an act that too many girls in Pakistan cannot afford to commit, regardless of the Taliban’s presence, because there is simply no system of education in the country.
The Taliban relies on its twisted interpretation of shariat to claim that targeting 14-year old girls is justified. But what discourses and interpretations of reality enable us to justify the deprivation and neglect faced by all these girls in Pakistan? What do we say? We know it’s not Islam, so what is it? Is it feudalism? Is it capitalism? Is it poverty? Is it laziness? Is it misfortune?
Why is there no ‘war against misfortune’? Is there a drone that can target poverty and also eradicate disease as a collateral damage?
Why is it so easy to rage at the Taliban? Why is it so hard to rage at the conditions that gave rise to the Taliban and continue to sustain it—the semi-feudalism, the predatory capitalism, the thousand and one mafias, the relentless machinations of imperialism and the military? How have we the scions of anti-military all of a sudden started pulling at its shirt asking for it to wipe out the Taliban? What is all of this if not intellectual and moral bankruptcy?
Reprehensible as the shooting of Malala Yusufzai is, it does not justify imperialist drone attacks on peoples living in tribal areas. Reprehensible as the targeting of a 14-year-old girl is, it does not justify the Pakistan Army’s often indiscriminate operations that have led to the displacement of millions of people. And, reprehensible as the Taliban’s transparently idiotic and self-serving discourse is, it is not Pakistan’s biggest enemy.
Pakistan’s biggest enemy is our unwillingness to transcend our own hypocrisies. We chase after the news of the day, today it is workers burning in a factory, tomorrow it is a plane crash, the day after it is the shooting of a 14-year old girl. We have no commitment to a programme for the transformation of society, of addressing the day-to-day struggles of working people. We have only a commitment to applying cosmetics on these festering sores.
One might go away, but another will always take its place. It is the disease that needs to be treated.