The Taliban: Not the only threat to Pakistan

By Hussain Nadim

Contrary to the common perception of people, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is not the biggest threat to Pakistan; neither is it powerful enough to take over the government. The real threat to Pakistan’s stability and the future comes from the rich aristocratic class of the country. In almost all the political discourses both in Pakistan and abroad, containing TTP is seen as the end to the crisis that the country currently faces. It should be noted that the TTP has not led Pakistan into the crisis that it faces today; rather it is the crisis that the elite class of Pakistan brought about in the past sixty-two years that has unleashed a force like TTP. While this offshoot of the original Taliban is no doubt a threat that needs to be contained, the aristocracy in Pakistan escapes its responsibility for bringing the country to the brink of collapse.

A country’s success is dependant on the nature of its elite class. An elite class is responsible for the well-being of the people from low socioeconomic groups. A country that has an elite class which is responsive to the needs of its people and those living in the community is guaranteed stability and acceptance from its citizens. However, the elite class of Pakistan has operated with extreme short-sightedness by exploiting its own people and ignoring their needs. Elites have not been hit by the suicide attacks and have yet to suffer the devastation of war. People belonging to the elite class are among the first to criticize politicians, the army and the United States for the crisis the country faces, but when it comes to contribution they have not moved an inch to contribute positively towards the country.

It is politically incorrect for the people who have not contributed anything for their country to point fingers or blame the government for the crisis. In the morning they sympathize with the victims of suicide attacks and afterwards line up outside posh café’s and restaurants to spend a couple of thousand rupees on their entertainment. The closure of educational institutions due to security concerns has been a blessing; an early winter break for many of them.

The youth that belong to this class are often more western than people in the West, while  at the same time they hate everything about the West – a sign of sheer ignorance. These are also the same youth that get an opportunity to study at the top universities in Pakistan and abroad. Education in Pakistan, however, teaches them all about the art of making money; little focus is given to the improvement of society and giving back to the community. Most of those who are educated abroad live their four years in a fantasy world, developing foreign accents and styles of living. They return home as modern colonizers.

Revolution is a word at the tip of tongue of all youth, not for the improvement of society but rather to be an important figure of the history. For many the Palestinian struggle is a fashion symbol, and the Kashmir struggle is not! Speaking English is modern; Urdu is not! Alcohol is sign of liberalization, women right’s are not! Sadly, this is the future generation of Pakistan that is equally radical and probably much more ignorant than Taliban. Wrapped in conspiracy theories, following the directions of extremist radicals like Zaid Hamid, this youth has lost its way. There is still no realization by the rich and aristocratic class of their involvement in bringing Pakistan to the current crisis.

The people of Pakistan need to develop long term planning and approach. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan is only a seasonal force that will not survive a couple years longer, but as long as the elite class of Pakistan and the future generations do not change their ways and mentality, forces like TTP will continue to re-surface. For past six decades people belonging to the elite class have marginalized people from other provinces and lower socioeconomic classes. They have been ignorant to the needs of their own people. There is no concept of giving back to the community or improvement of the society. There is no activity on the individual level from the elite and pampered class youth to contribute positively towards the society. Their sympathies and dinner table activism has not changed the situation on ground.

The least they can do as the ‘blessed’ ones is to learn from their education, and detach themselves from the older custom, views and beliefs of the society that segregates and creates power disparity amongst the people. TTP consists of only few thousand hardcore militants who have international aspirations. Seventy-five percent of the militants are those who have been marginalized by the elite class and not provided education, food and opportunity by the government of Pakistan. There is little point in blaming the government as power in Pakistan bounces between the different elites.

Containing the Pakistani Taliban is a necessity to clear out the mess created by the elite class in past sixty two year. As the army struggles to weed out the militants, there is an equal need to bring the aristocracy of Pakistan under the rule of law. As long as the people with luxury cars and money continue to ignore and mould the law to their interests, the situation in Pakistan will not change an inch even without the threat of Pakistani Taliban.

The people and government of Pakistan have to understand that the foremost reason Pakistan faces the crisis today is because of the exploitation of the poor people of Pakistan at the hands of a rich aristocratic class that is not tamed by any law. If the poor are deprived of pens, bread and justice they will naturally resort to violence and terrorism for survival. The idea is not to abolish the elite class of Pakistan but to make it realize its responsibilities and make it more responsive to the needs of poor people in the society. That is the only answer to the question asked by people in the elite class, ‘What is wrong with Pakistan?’

Hussain is an international student from Pakistan majoring in International Affairs at the Elliott School. He is concentrating in the Middle East and South Asia regions. He is currently spending a Junior Year Abroad (JYA) at Pembroke College, Oxford. Hussain is also the student liaison to the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C. He plans to pursue graduate study at Oxford University after graduation and work in the government of Pakistan.

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