To begin with, the Pakistani Taliban is a movement that oversees the operations of several militia groups in Pakistani. As it stands now, about 30 militant groups are under the umbrella of the Pakistani Taliban Movement. This organization operates mainly along the Pakistani regions that are bordering Afghanistan. In addition, most parts of these regions are controlled by specific tribes that are often keen in taking control of particular interests. Even though the organization runs the operations of these fighting groups, it is not tightly linked to any group. In other words, proper networking has not been established between the Pakistani Taliban Movement and the individual militant groups.
Waziristan has been the headquarters for this movement. The Pakistani Taliban Movement is also known to have branched from the original Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan. Hence, the Afghanistan Talibans have close allies to Pakistani Taliban movement even though they operate in different destinations. It can be recalled that they fought as a unit in taking over power in Kabul.1 On the other hand, the American forces have remained as the main rivals of this movement. The Afghanistan counterparts were hosted by the Pakistan allies. Hence, both the Pakistani and Afghanistan militants drawn from Taliban are friends with each other. Moreover, fighters belonging to Al-Qaeda movement have been hosted by both the Pakistani and Afghanistan fighters for a long time since they work closely together as friends. For example, the Pakistani Taliban offered the much needed logistical assistance to Al Qaeda militia group.
The government military forces from Pakistan have also been at war with the Pakistani Taliban for a long time. It has been the desire of the government to take over control of the tribal border regions ravaged by the Taliban insurgency. As a result, the government forces and Pakistani Taliban have never been in good terms. They are constantly at war with each other.
One of the outstanding aims of the Pakistani Taliban is to fight the western powers (and especially the United States) who claim that they are terrorists. The war in Afghanistan in 2001 was largely meant to eliminate acts of terror. However, the Taliban in Afghanistan felt that the US influence in this region was counter productive and oppressive towards their operations. By September 2010, the Pakistani Taliban had been categorized as a terrorist organization by the government of the United States.
Mullah Mohammed Omar is the Taliban leader in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban is also loyal to him as their top leader. This explains why both wings have been cooperating together in launching attacks against the US establishments and Pakistani government. Most of the Taliban insurgencies are executed by both the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban. As already pointed out, the Afghan Taliban receives a lot of assistance from the Pakistani Taliban especially in terms of rear bases, logistics and recruiting fighters. The Haqqani network is yet another close friend to both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.
Another goal of the Pakistani Taliban is to fully introduce the sharia law in the country. The Pakistani government has not been willing to accept their demands. Even though sharia law is embraced in most Islamic states, the Pakistani authorities have not fully complied with the trend.2
Both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban aim at abolishing all forms of influence that the US government has installed over the recent past. The Taliban have the desire and broad goal to take over power both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This explains the reason why the insurgent group decided to spread its influence from Afghanistan to the ethnic regions in Pakistan.
The Al-Shabab terror network and Iran are believed to be allies of the Taliban movement both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The authorities in these two countries recognize the presence of Taliban’s operations. It is imperative to understand that since the aforementioned governments hardly spoke against Taliban’s operations, they must have been secretly supporting the insurgent group. Worse still, the Iranian government gave attention to Taliban ideals several times. Therefore, there is little doubt that they supported the activities of this extremist movement.
Teaching young recruits in madrassas has been yet another broad goal of the Taliban movement both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The most important reason why recruits are taught in madrassas is to instill some ideals in them so that they can be able to acquire the right fundamental faith needed to support the insurgent movement. For example, Islamic laws are taught in Madrassas with the aim of enlightening followers. Whereas Islamic laws are believed to foster peace and love in society, there are some madrassa lessons that are significantly radical. If the recruits are taught such lessons, they end up joining other fighters on the ground with the sole purpose of defending the radical teachings.3
In order to clearly create a distinction between the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, it is pertinent to mention that the Taliban in Afghanistan has been the sanctuary of Al-Qaeda network. Due to the strength of the Afghanistan Taliban, the group has been in a position to host and also work closely with the Al-Qaeda network. This can be seen from the claims made by the United States that the Afghan Taliban protected Osama Bin Laden. It can be remembered that Osama Bin Laden was eventually killed by the US forces somewhere in Pakistan. Perhaps, the Pakistani Taliban had secured him in that country even as the US military was concentrating their efforts in Afghanistan.
Another striking difference is that the Afghan Talibans were eventually ousted from power by the US forces but the Pakistani Taliban is a by-product of the original Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Some scholars claim that the Pakistani Talibans are not the true Talibans that the US government has been pursuing. They are merely another extremist group that is seeking autonomy from the United States’ influence in Pakistan.4 As much as such school of thought might sound convincing, it is necessary to explore the similarities and differences of each insurgent wing before eventually reaching a conclusion.
In summing up, it is vital to reiterate that the Afghanistan Taliban presumably gave birth to Pakistani Taliban even though there might be loose link between the two insurgent groups and the individual militia factions. This can be affirmed by the goals of Taliban movement in both countries. Some of the goals include taking control of certain regions, fighting external aggression emanating from the United States and its allies, recruiting fighters needed in militia groups, teaching and executing radical Islamic laws (sharia) and also seeking autonomy from the western powers and their allies. In addition, it has also been observed that countries such as Iran and the Al-Shabab terror network have often worked closely with the Taliban Movement.
Crews, Robert, andAmin Tarz. The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan. New York: The president and fellows of the Harvard College, 2008.
Giustoz, Antonio. Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field. London: Hurst Publishers Ltd, 2009.
Hussain, Rizwan. Pakistan and the Emergence of Islamic Militancy in Afghanistan. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005.
Rashid, Ahmed. Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia.New York: IB. Tauris & Co. Ltd, 2002.
- Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia. (New York: IB. Tauris & Co. Ltd, 2002), 149.
- Rizwan Hussain, Pakistan and the Emergence of Islamic Militancy in Afghanistan. (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005), 91.
- Giustoz Antonio, Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field. (London: Hurst Publishers Ltd, 2009), 59.
- Robert Crews and Amin Tarz, The Taliban and the Crisis of Afghanistan. (New York: The president and fellows of the Harvard College, 2008), 165.