By Khaled Ahmed
February 19, 2012
Pentagon Press India
No of Pages: 244
I was surprised a
fortnight ago to receive a note from Lahore’s General Post Office saying I had
imported a banned book which the Post Office had duly confiscated. The book was
Punjabi Taliban by Mujahid Hussain (Pentagon Press, India, 2011) which is available
in Pakistan too and advertised by a Karachi bookseller on the internet.
The terrorists are
angry at the book. Punjab government has now joined them. The terrorists are
scary enough — because the author, who now lives abroad, was once attacked by
them. Some years ago, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah denied that south
Punjab was a haven of the Punjabi Taliban. South Punjab contains 13 districts
with a population of 27 million: Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, DG Khan,
Jhang, Khanewal, Layyah, Lodhran, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan,
Rajanpur, and Vehari.
Mazari who hails from DG Khan in south Punjab wrote in The News (April 29,
2009) “Why military action is not the answer” about the dominance of jihadi madrasas
in DG Khan, significantly pointing to the “foreign funding” they were
receiving: “In DG Khan, there are 185 registered madrasas of which 90 are
Deobandi (with a total of 324 teachers), 84 are Barelvi (with a total of 212
teachers), six are Ahle Hadith (107 teachers) and five are Fiqh-e-Jafaria (10
She continued: “Of the
Deobandi madrasas, Jamia Ataul-Ulum, with 200 boarders and 20 day-students
ranging from 5-25 years, and eight teachers, receives donations from Kuwait.
Jamia Darul Rehmania offers education up to class eight and has 350 boarders
plus 230 day-students and 28 teachers…The total number of Deobandi madrasa
students in the DG Khan district is 11,535. Interestingly, in this category, it
is the large madrasas… linked to the JUI… that receive foreign funding… almost
solely from Kuwait”.
On 10 December 2009, a
PPP MNA Jamshed Dasti from DG Khan challenged the claim made by the law
minister that there were no terrorist havens in south Punjab and that Barelvi madrasas
outnumbered the violent Deobandi ones. He said south Punjab was the main source
of the Taliban-linked terrorists and that DG Khan was in the grip of violence
encouraged by the state itself. He said the hills of DG Khan were still the
training grounds for jihadis patronised by the state.
Bahawalpur division is
dominated by the Jaish-e-Muhammad and the Sipah-e-Sahaba. The other two forces
in the territory, the feudals and the state, have developed a modus vivendi
with them, the latter frequently acting as a bodyguard threatening anyone trying
to investigate their activities. The districts have supplied nearly 5,000
warriors to the Taliban’s war in Afghanistan, Waziristan and Swat.
Leader of the
Jaish-e-Muhammad Masood Azhar was running a training camp of warriors in
Cholistan, receiving financial aid from al Qaeda, also protected by the deep
state. Thousands of Jaish militants were living in Bahawalpur where Masood
Azhar too secretly resided. He frequently visited the Taliban and al Qaeda
leaders on the Afghan border. Malik Ishaq, once in jail for killing dozens of
people, belongs to Rahim Yar Khan and is leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. He used
to rule the territory from jail, even talking from prison to the political
leaders of Punjab. The case against him was wrecked after witnesses against him
got killed and the living ones resiled.
The mastermind of the
Mumbai attack Hamid Amin belonged to Rahim Yar Khan. In Bahawalpur, thousands
have gone to join the war in the Tribal Areas from Madrasa Usman-o-Ali
established by Masood Azhar.
Salmaan Taseer’s son was kidnapped from Lahore allegedly by Punjabi Taliban and
taken to North Waziristan and is being reportedly kept — right in front of the
Haqqani camp — by them and their Uzbek cohorts.
The writer is a director at the South Asia Free Media
Source: The Express Tribune, Lahore