Editorial: The army must face up to Taliban Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan The majority opinion which not so long ago favoured the Nizam-e Adl Regulation (NAR) in Swat is now shifting away from a pro-Taliban stance and conceding that Pakistan might have to fight them as Pakistan’s own war after all. This has happened owing to developments that were predictable to the entire world but not to most Pakistanis because of a media bias. The Swat Taliban have finally said that they are not bound to honour the peace accord between the government and the TNSM cleric Sufi Muhammad. That puts paid to the NAR. Sufi Muhammad was supposed to declare war against the Taliban if they did not abide by the NAR, but he has instead condemned the Constitution of Pakistan as an infidel institution. A kind of jihadi nepotism has overcome him as he refuses to see what his son-in-law Fazlullah is doing in Dir and Buner in violation of the accord. Indeed, the Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan has denounced those who criticise the Sufi’s “verdict” against democracy and insists that his brand of shariat will be applied throughout Pakistan, with jiziya (protection tax) imposed on non-Muslims. (Jiziya can be retrospective, amounting to crores of rupees, as happened in the case of the Sikh community in Orakzai.) There’s more disquieting news. Like all Taliban, including some pro-Pakistan warlords like Maulvi Nazir, the Taliban spokesman has welcomed Al Qaeda and its leadership to the areas conquered by the Taliban and vowed to help such formerly state-backed jihadi organisations as Lashkar-e Tayba and Jaish-e Muhammad in addition to the “foreign” outfits such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, to consolidate their hold on Pakistan’s territory. The chief of the Lashkar is in protective custody and the Jaish chief has been made to “disappear” for the same reason — if they are visible, there may be pressure to extradite them. The message is clear: the Taliban are linked to Al Qaeda and they are counting on such elements in Punjab to help them take their war down to other parts of Pakistan. When the Swat deal was being sewed up, only the MQM objected, but it was soon isolated in parliament when the National Assembly voted in favour of the NAR. The media-mujahideen acted in the same irresponsible manner in which they had acted during the Lal Masjid affair by siding with the Taliban over the videoed whipping of a 17-year-old girl. The Supreme Court added its bit by releasing the Lal Masjid cleric who immediately announced his resolve to spread the Taliban shariat in Pakistan. Interior Adviser Mr Rehman Malik has growled ineffectually in reply and the advocate general in Peshawar has asserted that the High Court will exercise full authority over the qazi courts in Swat. But everyone knows that the advocate general will never go to Swat to say this and risk getting his head chopped off at a Mingora square. Mr Nawaz Sharif has expressed concern after his party kept saying it was not Pakistan’s war that the army was fighting against the Taliban. His refusal to morally support the PPP government earlier and his party’s rejection of an ISI briefing on the matter in a joint parliamentary session had actually made the army back off. Finally, it is the army that has to step forward and face the Taliban. It has baulked so far because of adverse public opinion and an equally lethal media tilt. But now that the politicians are waking up to the danger and the media is increasingly disabused, the army must end its India-driven strategy and try to save Pakistan from becoming the caliphate of Al Qaeda. In fact, Islamabad has to reach an understanding with New Delhi over the matter in order to get the army to mobilise in the numbers required. However, if this is not done, the people will have to fight the war on their own. The MQM is asking the right question: what if the Taliban come and the army is not there to protect us? Swat is the challenge staring us in the face. If we don’t accept it and fight the Taliban, then the world will have to come and fight it the way it thinks fit. --------------------------------------- Disturbing developments here. Nothing surprising though. Give the jihadis a finger and they grab an arm. I can't believe that the Pakistani government didn't see this coming.