[addendum to this June 14, 08: Ahmed Rashid's Descent into Chaos is a major addition to the list below.]
Ismael Khan and Carlotta Gall are reporting that Pakistan is close to making a deal with the Islamist insurgents in the tribal territories [NYT 4/25/08]. The question is with which Islamists? And who will enforce the deal? We have known all along that there were various kinds of Islamist insurgents, but now it appears that the “Pakistani Taliban” are the real concern, and the object of the negotiations. We need to distinguish the various incarnations of the Taliban, as the new variants may now be the key players in the negotiations.
The first incarnation emerged out of
The second incarnation of the Taliban has developed in the last few years, becoming a serious menace to the stability of
But from the NeoTaliban has appeared a new variant that now looks eastward. Rather than posed against the American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the new Pakistani Taliban are posed against Islamabad, especially that is, the Pakistan army. This is blowback with a vengeance, for the Pakistanis have been protecting and nourishing various mujahedin groups (see Taliq Ali, “the Colour Khaki,” New Left Review, and Hassan Abbas, Pakistan’s Drift to Extremism) in order to have recruits ready for any potential conflict with India. Two authors have written about this group in the very recent past: Nocholas Schmidle. 2008. “Next-Gen Taliban.” New York Times, January 6; Jayshree Bajoria. 2008. “
[Pakistan Taliban Movement] for themselves.
But these mujahedin are, as Bajoria say, “fiercer, younger and impatient for results.” Bajoria quotes Steve Coll: They “are a younger generation of more violent radical leaders who are in a hurry and have no patience with compromise with the state.” They are “hard-core breakaway children militias” who define “the law” in their own terms, considering music, TV, and luxuries like massage parlors to be un-Islamic. These Islamists are having a powerful impact on the situation in tribal territory. Schmidle’s interviews with the leaders of the Jamat-e Ulema-e Islami, an Islamist political party that was swept into power by the election of 2002, reveal what the appearance of these young militants has done. They have created fear even among other Islamists. A leader of the party said plainly “Everyone is afraid.” “These mujahedeen don’t respect anyone anymore.” The head of the party, Maulana Fazlur Rehmen, said “we are now afraid of the young men fighting.” Rehmen has at other times played up his connections with Islamists such as the Taliban but he has been sobered by, for instance, an intense clash between the new Pakistan Taliban and the military at the Red Mosque in
This is the context of the negotiations now taking place in