Tuesday September 06, 2016
Distinction Between Al Qaeda and Taliban: A Lethal Misconception
Al Qaeda was an idea and concept born out of anti American sentiments which turned into ideology after it mixed with Islamic fundamentalism.
After it became ideology it was not limited to Al Qaeda it became a guiding philosophy in different segments of Muslim societies in general and in Pashtoons living on the both sides of Afghan-Pak border in particular. Then it spread onward in North and South Waziristan and Swat valley.
United States separated Taliban from Al Qaeda and spent all its energies to eliminate Al Qaeda actors in Afghanistan and on the other side of the border in Pakistan. Al Qaeda had built deep relationship with Taliban in Afghanistan. This relationship not only remained intact after fall of Kabul it grew into a stronger bond as they both started their fight against United States.
United States not only separated Al Qaeda from Taliban it also divided Taliban in two groups: good Taliban, and bad Taliban. Those who wanted to talk to the United States became good Taliban whereas those who stood affirm on their ground and continued wars against United States were declared bad Taliban.
Government of Pakistan also applied the same strategy in Swat valley. It distinguished between the Taliban who were waging armed struggle against the government and those who ostensibly wanted to impose Sharia in Swat valley and Malakand division peacefully.
Both governments, United States and Pakistan, made serious tactical mistake. There should have been no distinction made between Al Qaeda, good Taliban and bad Taliban. All three of them are one and the same thing, one more aggressive than other, and one more lethal than the other.
If both governments, United States and Pakistan, had dealt with Al Qaeda, good Taliban and bad Taliban with one standard, the things would not have gone that bad in Pakistan. This tactical error proved lethal misconception on the part of governments of United States and Pakistan.
A lot of damage has already been done. However, it is still not that late. By adopting a one point strategy against Al Qaeda, good Taliban and bad Taliban, this war can be won. Both governments, US and Pakistan, must get over with the perception of separation of Al Qaeda, good Taliban and bad Taliban.
The fact of the matter is Al Qaeda is spirit, good Taliban are the supply line, and the bad Taliban are the foot soldiers who are fighting Al Qaeda’s war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Spokespersons of government of Pakistan often mention about the foreign funds and arms supplies to Taliban. Even as of May 4, Rehman Malik, Interior Minister, appealed to foreign governments to halt the supply of arms to Taliban.
If monies and arms are coming to Taliban they are coming through Al Qaeda connections. It is Al Qaeda that is making possible the continuous flow of monies and arms to Taliban. Al Qaeda is making it happen because it is her existence at stake. If Taliban win, Al Qaeda wins; if Taliban lose, Al Qaeda loses. If Taliban survive, Al Qaeda survives; if Taliban die, Al Qaeda dies.
Therefore, it is important that no distinction is made in war against Al Qaeda and Taliban. Without ending this misconception, it is possible, all policies formed to defeat Al Qaeda and Taliban may fail.
Let us not keep repeating the same mistake over and over and expect different results. Misconceptions lead to flawed strategies and flawed strategies produce flawed results. In Al Qaeda and Taliban case, neither United States, nor Pakistan can afford flawed results.
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