The Platform

Photo illustration by John Lyman

The problems facing Pakistan are manifold.

Pakistan, a country celebrated for its profound history and rich culture, remains mired in the quagmire of violent extremism, with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) at the forefront of this grim reality. This narrative offers a window into the militant group’s relentless assault on Pakistanis, painting a chilling portrait of their disdain for humanity.

“Fasad-Fil-Ard,” meaning “mischief on Earth,” and “Khawariji Fitna,” denoting an early extremist faction in Islam known for its radical ideology and acts of barbarity, can both be aptly used to describe Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. Their actions are akin to a tempest, relentlessly disturbing global harmony. Viewed through the prism of history, they are the present-day embodiment of the Khawarij, a faction that once sowed discord during the nascent years of Islam.

September spotlighted Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s chilling ruthlessness. In September alone, civilian casualties soared, doubling from prior records. A harrowing 136 civilians met their end, while 144 others suffered injuries in 65 separate incidents. These aren’t mere numbers on paper. Each figure symbolizes a father, mother, sibling, or friend whose life was cut short or forever altered. Delving deeper, the Center for Research and Security Studies’ quarterly report unveils even more disheartening data. Within the year’s first three quarters, violence-induced fatalities touched 1087, with civilians representing a grievous 31% or 333 deaths. Contextualizing this, over the past decade, civilian casualties made up 41.87% of the total fatalities—a clear indication of the TTP’s propensity to target the vulnerable.

But the TTP’s malevolence isn’t solely manifested in their brutal acts. It’s also evident in their perversion of Islam, a faith that fundamentally espouses peace, compassion, and reverence for life. Their targeting of unarmed civilians stands in stark violation of Islam’s cardinal principles, representing not an embodiment, but a gross distortion of the faith. As the Prophet Muhammad emphasized, “Whoever harms a non-combatant (a civilian), then I am his adversary,” underlining Islam’s emphasis on shielding the innocent. Yet, cloaked in a distorted perception of Islamic values, the TTP persists in committing grievous acts, flagrantly contravening the religion’s core tenets.

Central to the TTP’s strategy is a profound indifference to human life. Their acts of terror extend beyond military and governmental entities, often victimizing civilians and revered religious sites. Echoing the Khawariji of yore, they show scant regard for religious sanctuaries or the freedoms they enshrine, eroding trust within Pakistan’s diverse religious and ethnic communities.

Beyond the immediate and palpable loss of life, the TTP’s reign of terror has broader, cascading ramifications. Their persistent onslaughts have damaged infrastructure, impeding trade, tourism, and daily existence. Investors, both local and international, have grown cautious, resulting in an economic downturn, job losses, and weakened industries. Additionally, the consistent diversion of resources to counter Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has strained Pakistan’s security framework, challenging its capacity to maintain peace and order elsewhere.

The TTP’s warped interpretation of jihad stands out as particularly egregious. Notwithstanding their claims, esteemed Islamic scholars have universally repudiated their perspective. Through “Paigham-i-Pakistan,” a consolidated declaration from Pakistani religious luminaries, the TTP’s version of jihad has been unequivocally labeled “haram,” signifying its prohibition in Islam. This consensus underscores the religious community’s united stand against the group’s twisted ideology.

Yet, amid the pervasive threat of terrorism, the spirit of the Pakistani people remains unbroken. They persistently refuse to let the TTP’s agenda dictate their lives. The nation’s streets remain vibrant, institutions operational, and festivals exuberantly celebrated. This unwavering resolve stems from the nation’s rich cultural and historical lineage. Their daily acts of courage, perseverance, and hope defy the terror that attempts to erode their spirit.

The TTP’s campaign against the Pakistani people reveals their intrinsic disdain for humanity and disregard for life’s sanctity. Their sustained and escalating acts of violence, especially as evidenced in the recent surge in September, suggest a calculated strategy targeting the most susceptible. Recognizing the TTP for what they truly represent—a “Fasad-fil-Ard” and a “Khawariji Fitna”—is paramount. Understanding this group’s underpinnings will pave the way for countermeasures to their radical beliefs, safeguarding innocent lives. Confronting Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan requires more than physical resistance; it demands an ideological counter-narrative, championed by Muslim scholars and leaders, to preserve the nation’s future and the inviolability of its citizenry.

Sahibzada Muhammad Usman holds a PhD in Geopolitics and is the author of ‘Different Approaches on Central Asia: Economic, Security, and Energy’.