Taliban: Conquest of Pakistan?
Many of us are watching with great interest and not a little apprehension as the Taliban make inroads into eastern portions of Pakistan. Recently, the government there turned over the Swat Valley to Taliban control, allowing implementation of Islamic law (sharia). Some readers will recall the recent video of a 17-year-old girl publicly whipped (34 lashes) for going outside her home without the escort of a close male relative. The comment of one moderate Muslim living in the city of Mingora is quite revealing:
When the Taliban took over Swat, they held a "peace" march. Thousands of men in black turbans and regulation beards stomped through the city. "There wasn't a single local among them," a schoolteacher in Mingora recalled. "I sat at home with my family and quivered with fear." Then he hesitated and made sure that my recorder was switched off, afraid that what he was about to say might be seen as blasphemous. "I felt like a non-Muslim citizen of Mecca the day it was conquered by prophet Muhammad's army. And I am a practicing Muslim." (Reported by Mohammed Hanif, "My Country, Caving to the Taliban," The Washington Post, Sunday, April 26, 2009)To put this another way, the fearful schoolteacher felt that he would be treated by the Taliban as the infidels were treated by a conquering Muhammad: given the choice of submission to Islam . . . or death.
Now, it's true that not many Meccan infidels died when Muhammad marched victoriously in, but that's undoubtedly because they submitted to Islam and the destruction of the idols in the Kaaba. It's also true that 'monotheistic' non-Muslims are allowed to continue in their religion so long as the jizya is paid and other restrictions are accepted, but one purpose of the jizya and the various restrictions is to put pressure on non-Muslim 'monotheists' to convert to Islam, and the Taliban are already putting pressure on non-Muslims to pay the jizya, convert to Islam, or face execution.
The Taliban's aims are not limited to the Swat Valley. The great prize is Pakistan itself, and if the Pakistani government continues to 'cave' to the Taliban, then these Islamist militants could succeed.
And just to concentrate our minds, let's recall that Pakistan has an estimated 90 to 250 nuclear weapons.