Taliban And Anti-Taliban – By Farhat Taj

This book is written by Farhat Taj and is a serious indictment of the state of Pakistan, especially its feared security agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The author is a Norway-based Pakistani with connections to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province of Pakistan. She has links within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, which have generally portrayed as the main source of Islamic militancy in the world.

According to the author, the popular belief that the people of FATA are supportive of Taliban is just a myth. She believes that the Pakistani state, especially its intelligence agencies, have projected this view to shelter the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan, so that they can use them in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the NATO forces in Afghanistan. She narrates how the tribal militias, which were initially formed by the tribesmen to fight Taliban with the encouragement of the political leadership of KPK, were later abandoned by the state authorities to be brutalized by the Taliban. She blames the political leadership of surrendering their right of decision-making to the military under duress.

The book is mainly based on first-hand account which she got from the residents of FATA. She mentions the dismal law and order condition within FATA as the main reason for relying heavily on interviews. While she seems to have been able to get a lot of raw information regarding the confusing conditions in FATA, her conclusions regarding the culpability of the Pakistani state and its intelligence agencies are not really substantiated. Her given accounts may suggest a strong link between Taliban and ISI, but they are not a definite proof, as she fails to explain the successful army operations against the militants in some of the tribal areas. Then her insistence on the innocence of all the tribal people is more like a preconceived bias than an objective observation. She mentions all the tribal militias against Taliban but does not give due weight to the fact that even Taliban had support, at least, of some of the natives. Because of her apparent Pakhtun nationalism, she has strongly suggested that the Taliban from Punjab, another state in Pakistan with a different language, are the source of all the problems.

While the book is a valuable addition for various reasons to the existing literature on FATA in the context of militancy, the reading becomes tedious at times due to repetition in structure and account.

Source by Tarique R Memon