By Muhammad Naveed Alam
October 15 2012
According to Oxford dictionary, Taliban define as ’student, seeker of knowledge”. Are they? Don’t call them Taliban, militant’s and extremists. They are criminals and terrorists.
First they transformed Swat ‘tourism to terrorism’ in 2007. They destroyed ancient buildings, schools, music shops and ravaged the serene land of its beauty and charms.
Swat valley is the centre of ancient Gandhara civilization, where Alexander the Great arrived in 326 BC. With high mountains, green meadows, and pellucid lakes this picturesque valley also offers array of handicrafts, old silver jewellery, semi-precious stones, locally embroidered woollen shawls, rugs and traditional Afghani, Pakistani and Chinese cuisine. There are also luxurious hotel facilities and charming roadside restaurants.
Swat is located in north-west Pakistan, 247 kilometres away from capital Islamabad. Close to Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Swat is a district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It is a place of great natural beauty and was popular in tourists as “the Switzerland of the region”.
Why Malala is important?
In time of that great oppression when children were deprived of education with no schools even the media was lip-tight and focusing on other issues. 14-year-old, Malala Yousafzai, was the brave girl to come forward and raise voice for the children of the valley. She wrote a diary for BBC under the pseudonym of Gul Makai. She confronted Taliban with her pen and wrote in her journal of the crimes that men armed behind masks committed.
Malala Yousafzai, a resident of Swat Valley, one of the most conservative regions of the country , She is a first Pakistani who was nominated for international peace prize for children, but a South African handicapped girl won the prize. The International Children’s Peace Prize is presented annually to a child, whose courageous, remarkable acts have made a difference in countering problems which affect children around the world. That year a child Michaela Mycroft (17) from South Africa was rewarded with the Children’s Peace Prize.
Despite losing the dream prize Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Pakistan’s First National Peace Prize for her online diary reporting on the Taliban’s ban on education for girls.
It was January 2009, Malal’s diary stated, “I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taliban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid of going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.”
She says only 11 students used to attend the class of 27. The number decreased because of Taliban’s edict. Her three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict. Narrating an incident Malala says on her way from school to home she heard a man saying ‘I will kill you’. “I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.”
Malala Yousafzai is one of those girls who supports and understands the importance of girl education. “My strength does not lie in the sword, it lies in the pen”. She said. “Education can play a vital role to reduce the extremism, and one of the main reasons of terrorism is unawareness and lack of education”. She further added.
My biggest wish is to see Swat and Pakistan peaceful, where every child can go to school. And for this cause I will fight for other girls.
Who are the Taliban and TTP?
The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. It is commonly believed that they first appeared in religious seminaries – mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia – which preached a hard line form of Sunni Islam.
Pakistan was one of only three countries, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which recognized the Taliban when they were in power in Afghanistan from the mid-1990s until 2001.
After the invasion of Nato in Afghanistan Taliban spilt in different groups. In Afghanistan, two groups are prominent, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who still believed to be a leader of Taliban and Haqqani group.
The main Pakistani group is led by Hakimullah Mehsud, whose Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is blamed for dozens of suicide bombings, target killings and other attacks.
In Pakistan, several Journalists and experts argue that Taliban are not terrorists. The reason behind the attacks in Pakistan is that Pakistani forces and officials helping foreign forces to kill Taliban. This argument can be supported by western scholars and politicians. For instance, British MP. George Galloway, who is outspoken against wars. He says “We (Britain) went to war in Iraq in pursuit of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. We invaded Helmand to curb the non-existent Taliban terrorist threat to the UK. Noam Chomsky, also criticized several times against Afghan war and says Taliban are not the threat for West.
If TTP is not part of the Taliban and do not work under Mullah Mohammad Omar than who is controlling TTP ? and who is funding them.? When asked several British and Pakistani Journalists the answer was Saudi Arab is supporting Taliban. This point could be possible because Pakistani officials always say foreign elements are funding Taliban but never mentioned their names. Pakistan Army, media and government should reveal who is funding them and share with public.
The Writer is freelance Journalist and studying International Journalism at Brunel University London.
PIC: European Pressphoto Agency