Taliban need as many as 260 trained suicide bombers to carry out at least five suicide attacks per week in a year time. This is a conservative estimate based on Taliban statements, claiming they have trained hundreds of young boys for suicide missions in Pakistan alone. Add the weekly attacks in Afghanistan and the figure will jump up to an average eight suicide attacks per week in the two neighboring countries. Or, this is the weekly average of suicide attacks in the two countries since 2009.
This scenario becomes more alarming in the absence of even a single credible religious leader either in Pakistan or Afghanistan with guts to condemn the increasing suicide attacks. The conservative leaders of the mainstream religious parties in the two countries keep either a sheepish or approving mum. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the Jamiat-e-Ulama-i-Islam (JUI) in Pakistan, with more seats in elected bodies of the country than any other religious party, is side-stepping the suicide attacks by speaking against the CIA-controlled drones that keep targeting the epicenter of terror in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
His Afghan counterparts, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, leader of the Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan and once a close ally of Osama bin Laden and Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, chairman Peace Council, former Afghan president, and leader of the Jamiat-e-Islami are busy in securing their share in the West’s booty that has showered on Kabul after 9/11. They somehow juxtaposed their politics vis-à-vis Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan while presenting themselves as the good Afghan Mullahs.
The mainstream Mullahs and Maulanas in Pakistan and Afghanistan have a more ‘appeasing’ policy towards suicide attacks and are members of different reconciliatory committees to negotiate with the dissident Taliban. In case of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, he made several direct and indirect offers for reconciling Afghan Taliban, claiming his influence over the renegade Taliban Shura. Mr Rabbani has been chosen as leader of the recently formed Afghan Peace Council.
Religious leaders sitting in parliaments in Islamabad and Kabul have failed to call in a national or regional gathering to condemn the killings of more than 9620 civilians in Pakistan and over 10000 in Afghanistan in the last several years. A good number of the causalities include victims of the suicide attacks in the two countries.
The secular leaders and parties have filled the vacuum terming the fanatic religious agenda of Taliban or al-Qaeda in their daily speeches in and outside of parliaments, nevertheless. Today the secular political leaders are the worst victims of the Taliban hate. Starting from Benazir Bhutto, former two-time premier of Pakistan, the target list in Pakistan includes Punjab governor Salman Taseer, Pakistan federal minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, religious leaders Dr Farooq Ahmad Khan, Maulana Hasan Jan and Pir Sami Ullah. Many more survived the attacks.
On Afghanistan side, the prominent names include Dr Najeebullah, former Afghan president, resistance leader Ahmad Shah Mehsud, Commander Abdul Haq, a peace negotiator Rahman Gul, a Kandahar-based elder Abdul Rehman and many more who opposed Taliban while representing government and communities.
The latest spree of suicide attacks on Maulana Fazlur Rehman, tribal elders, shrines of Sufis, markets, civilians and troops is an eye-opener to Taliban’s increasing use of suicide bombers as a lethal weapon against the civilized world. The military powers in the two countries may have their own plans for reversing the course of conflict but silence on behalf of the religious leaders and soft corner shown to militancy at certain political circles are dangerously encouraging youngsters to join the suicide squads of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. They have to fight the terror from the pulpits and chambers if they are sincere in help to stop suicide attacks which now take place almost on daily basis.