Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pashtun Canadians To Rally Against Taliban This Sunday

TORONTO – Pashtun-Canadians of Pakistan and Afghanistan origin are organizing an anti-Taliban rally to protest the ongoing massacre of Pashtun people in Northern Pakistan by the Taliban. In our first ever anti-Taliban rally in Canada we are protesting outside Queen's Park to highlight the unreported "Genocide of 52 million Pashtuns" by the Taliban and militants.

The once peaceful and serene Swat Valley in northern Pakistan has now being transformed into another Afghanistan by the Taliban. While hundreds of innocent people have been beheaded and butchered, 300 educational institutions have been bombed and destroyed, people on ground perceive that the Pakistan ISI/military is supporting Taliban because of the infectivity of the operation and intentionally fanning extremist religious thought in the region. Out of the 1.7 million local population about 700,000 people have already forced to migrate to other areas by the war.

We want to educate and apprise fellow Canadians, the Canadian media and journalists of this unreported genocide by the Taliban, who are massacring Pashtuns in the name of Islam. We are urging Canadian newspapers and TV networks to send photographers, videographers and reporters to talk to hundreds of Pashtun women, children and men whose family members are being killed in Pakistan's Pashtun areas on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Date: Sunday February 15, 2009 Time: 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM Location: Ontario Legislative Building , Queen's Park, Toronto.

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For information call Inayat Khan Kakar (905) 277 2854 - (647) 895-6566
Canadian Pashtun Community 315 Elgin St N, Cambridge, ON, N1R 8C9

Meanwhile:

In Kabul, Taliban suicide bombers struck government buildings at three sites on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people and wounding 57 in coordinated attacks.

In the Swat Valley, militants have kidnapped a Red Cross worker, apparently an American, according to local media reports. The worker was kidnapped two days after Taliban militants beheaded a kidnapped Polish engineer when the government failed to meet its ransom demands.

"Everything in Swat is destroyed, they are bombing schools, killing notables and targeting government employees."

This is what's left of a school in the Swat Valley that the Taliban blew up three weeks ago, just hours after the Pakistan government promised to reopen the region's schools:

22 Comments:

Blogger Parvus said...

I'm down in the States right now, but has anyone thought about organizing a similar rally in Vancouver or other cities? It would send a powerful message. What about the CASC? Even a few bodies would make the media.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Viz CASC: We're on this as best we can be for the moment, so all I can say is stay tuned.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Patrick Ross said...

I'm extremely curious: do other Pashtuns in Afghanistan know this is going on?

If not, how could they possibly know it isn't, and if so, should we expect it to significantly undermine Pashtun support -- perhaps better described as non-opposition -- of the Taliban?

11:50 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

We shouldn't have very high expectations about a single demonstration, but you can bet that this will be headline news in Kabul and Islamabad. The Pashtuns are, in the main, wholly opposed to the Taliban. News like this from Toronto will lift the spirits of the Pashtuns and others in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I would also hope that it might even elevate the debate somewhat here in Canada, where most people still sincerely believe that the Taliban enjoys lots of support among the Pashtuns and that Canadian soldiers are unwanted in Afghanistan. But we'll see.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Patrick Ross said...

With all due respect, Terry, most of the academic work conducted about the relationship between Pashtuns on the ground in Afghanistan and the Taliban indicate that Pashtuns are anything but opposed to the Taliban, because they believe that the Taliban are the only ones who will allow them to maintain their tribal customs and Pashtunawli code.

At least according to what I've read. If you have better sources, I'm certainly listening.

2:25 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

With all due respect, Patrick, the academic work on this subject is next to nil, and it would seem you have been reading rubbish. I won't fault you for that because most of what is written on this subject is rubbish.

I know of no evidence whatsoever that the Pashtuns ever supported the Taliban but for that brief interregnum on the Afghan side of Pashtunistan when the Taliban appeared a better bet than the Afghan mujahadeen warlords and gangsters. Pashtuns have conventionally opposed religious extremism, and opposed the Daouidsts, and even opposed the creation of Pakistan as a "Muslim" state. The Pashtuns have a long and illustrious history of moderation and progressive politics; West of the Indus River, Mahatma Gandhi's greatest ally in the non-violent struggle against Imperial Britain was Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the uncrowned king of the Pashtuns, loved by his people and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The polling data for Pashtuns on the Afghan side of he Durand Line (see the Canada Afghanistan Solidarity Committee) all contradicts the stereotype of Taliban-supporting Pashtuns. Given the chance to vote - as the Pashtuns in the NWFP and tribal belt of Pakistan have only recently been allowed - the religious parties are trounced at the polls, and the secular, progressive PMAP and ANP (the "red shirts") are the parties of choice among the Pashtuns.

It is critically important that we get Rudyard Kipling out of our heads on this point. The conventional stereotype of the Pashtuns as irredeemably priest-ridden and backward is a libel against a great people.

The Taliban and their jihadist allies have assaulted Pashtun culture, literature, music, art, and lifeways. It has been the habit of the Taliban to slaughter the secular, liberal Pashtun leadership, and they continue to do so, from the broad regional level right down to the village level. And still, the Pashtuns refuse to submit.

I've provide reading sources on this subject on this blog before, most recently:

http://tinyurl.com/bwmsjs

Cheers,

TG

8:19 AM  
Blogger Patrick Ross said...

Terry, I would point out that there's a stark difference between the Pashtun community in Canada -- who operate the website your post links to -- and the Pashtun community on the ground in Afghanistan.

You can't tell me the academic work on Pasthuns in Afghanistan is "nil". Almost any Academic work on Afghanistan spends a significant amount of time on the Pashtun.

The claim that Pashtus on the ground in Afghansitan -- which is one of the things I think we need to talk about here -- didn't oppose the Taliban has been supported virtually uniformly through that academic work, amongst writers that both oppose and support the Taliban.

The Taliban took the same approach toward the Pashtun as the British did. The British called it compartmentalization, wherein they settled for controlling Kabul and the Northern portion of the country, and allowed the Pashtun -- the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan -- to govern their own affairs through the Jirgas.

(Clearly, the Taliban didn't control the entire northern portion of the country, as the Northern Alliance controlled the very tip of Afghanistan, but the Taliban did control most of it.)

Like under the British, the Pashtuns declined to oppose the Taliban because the Taliban allowed them to run their own affairs.

The writings of Chris Johnson, Barnett Rubin, Robert Rotberg, Michael Ignatieff and Ahmed Rashid (only the last of whom wrote supportively of the Taliban) all share agreement on this.

I'm certain there is a proud Canadian Pashtun community, and I welcome their support of the war effort.

But they and their ethnic bretheren in Afghanistan and Pakistan exist within different cultural spheres, and have likely fomented varying cultural differences.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Patrick: I'm sure Terry is about rip into you pretty good, but to address a few things myself...

Ahmed Rashid has most certainly NOT written anything supportive of the Taliban. Is that really what you meant? Rashid has vented enormous frustration with the American leadership on Afghanistan, but he's been unequivocal about the necessity of throwing out the Taliban and building a functioning democracy. In fact, few people have written as effectively about the brutal nature of the Taliban as Rashid has.

The Taliban enjoyed tacit support from Pashtuns because Pashtuns had lived under Soviet occupation and/or rapacious warlords for the past 15 years, and they were ready for some kind of stability. You ask any of those writers who you quoted, or go to any poll, and you'll see that when we overthrew the Taliban there was almost unanimous support from the Pashtuns. Why? Because THEY DON'T WANT TO LIVE UNDER RELIGIOUS DICTATORS! The Taliban were just as ruthless and bloody with the Pashtuns as with the rest of the Afghan population.

Hamid Karzai originally supported the Taliban as a return to stable rule and, hopefully, a return to a monarchist-style moderate government. A few years later, the Taliban murdered Karzai's father for criticizing them. Do I need to remind you that Karzai's a Pashtun?

People talk about Pashtun people as if they're some kind of alien species. Yes, most Pashtuns live by the Pashtunwali code, but they would also like to get food on the table and send their kids to school. They're fucking human beings.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Patrick: Setting aside some of your other claims with which I may agree or disagree:

1. The assertion that "the Pashtuns support the Taliban" is groundless. It has no basis in fact.

2. The references I provided you were not about Canadian Pashtun cultural traditions and attitudes, but were about Pashtuns "back home."

3. ALL the polling data from the Afghanistan side flatly contradicts the assertion that "the Pashtuns support the Taliban" and provides ample evidence for the opposite case.

4. ALL the electoral data from the Pakistan side flatly contradicts the assertion and provides ample evidence for the opposite case.

5. The recently reported evidence of Pashtun attempts at resistance to and popular outrage about the Taliban in Swat, NWFP and FTA contradicts the assertion, and also provides ample evidence for the opposite case.

6. The proposition that Ahmed Rashid has ever written "supportively" of the Taliban is groundless. Even in his early years as a Marxist writing in support of the Baloch resistance, he was one of Pakistan's most eloquent voices against religious extremism. He still is, indeed now more than ever.

7. I'm not aware of anything of consequence that Ignatieff has ever written about the Pashtun people.

8. Barnett Rubin and Ahmed Rashid have written about why the Pashtun tribal leadership occasionally hedges its bets (quite sensibly) and appeases the Taliban from time to time; neither would support the assertion that "the Pashtuns support the Taliban." Because it's groundless.

9. The preponderance of evidence is that the majority of Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line OPPOSE the Taliban, its agenda, and its methods.

There.

But you know what? It's irrelevant. Our friends and comrades and allies among the Pashtuns oppose the Taliban and everything they stand for. They clearly and unambiguously have massive support among the Pashtun people - they are the leaders the Pashtuns vote for. They deserve our support, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, and here in Canada, at Queens Park, this Sunday.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

A quick note:

Thank you, Brian, for helping to clear things up. Patrick: I am not trying to rip into you by my response, which I wrote before I saw Brian's comment. But please, do bear in mind that the misapprehension that the Pashtun people are merely Taliban-supporting, incorrigibly conservative and fanatical rednecks (which I know is not your view) has been cultivated most enthusiastically, for far too long, in the disgracefully bigoted stereotype of Afghans generally to which Canada's so-called "anti-war" movement routinely and conveniently resorts. So if my tone is a bit fierce it's because I'm fucking sick of it, and with every Canadian soldier who dies in the service of the great Pashtun people of Kandahar, my patience is tried the more.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Damn. I was getting excited for Angry Terry. Civil Terry is alright, but less fun.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Will said...

Damn. Certain mofuckers were pwned on this thread.

This machine kills fascists.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Patrick Ross said...

"Ahmed Rashid has most certainly NOT written anything supportive of the Taliban. Is that really what you meant? Rashid has vented enormous frustration with the American leadership on Afghanistan, but he's been unequivocal about the necessity of throwing out the Taliban and building a functioning democracy. In fact, few people have written as effectively about the brutal nature of the Taliban as Rashid has."

I suggest you read his book Taliban. He spends a good deal of time trying to make the case that the Taliban had improved the security environment in Afghanistan, and tried to argue that they weren't as atrocious on the topic of human rights as anyone else absolutely knows they were.

"The Taliban enjoyed tacit support from Pashtuns because Pashtuns had lived under Soviet occupation and/or rapacious warlords for the past 15 years, and they were ready for some kind of stability. You ask any of those writers who you quoted, or go to any poll, and you'll see that when we overthrew the Taliban there was almost unanimous support from the Pashtuns. Why? Because THEY DON'T WANT TO LIVE UNDER RELIGIOUS DICTATORS! The Taliban were just as ruthless and bloody with the Pashtuns as with the rest of the Afghan population."

The issue of not wanting to live under religious dictators didn't really come to play because the Taliban, like the British, never attempted to enforce their rule over the Pasthun region.

They claimed official sovereignty over the region, then in practical terms withdrew and allowed the Pashtun to continue to govern themselves via the Jirgas.

That is why the Pashtun never overtly opposed the Taliban.

"Hamid Karzai originally supported the Taliban as a return to stable rule and, hopefully, a return to a monarchist-style moderate government. A few years later, the Taliban murdered Karzai's father for criticizing them. Do I need to remind you that Karzai's a Pashtun?"

And I'm reminding you that Karzai's stance toward the Taliban has not been uniform amongst the Pashtun, particularly those who declined to criticize the Taliban because they were content to simply be left alone.

"People talk about Pashtun people as if they're some kind of alien species. Yes, most Pashtuns live by the Pashtunwali code, but they would also like to get food on the table and send their kids to school. They're fucking human beings."

Nodobdy here is suggesting that the Taliban are anything but human beings -- human beings who are culturally different from us, and who represent a historical wildcard that must be respected in discussion of nearly any matter relating to Afghanistan or Pakistan.

The historical work on the Pashtun and their relationship to central governments in Afghanistan -- whether government by an occupying force or government by Afghans -- bears out precisely what I've said here.

"1. The assertion that "the Pashtuns support the Taliban" is groundless. It has no basis in fact."

Naturally, there's a difference between outright support of the Taliban and declining to overtly oppose them.

"2. The references I provided you were not about Canadian Pashtun cultural traditions and attitudes, but were about Pashtuns 'back home.'"

If I read your post accurately, your source for a great deal of that was the Pashtun Peace Forum.

Based on their attitudes and objectives, I wish these fine folks the best of luck. But to suggest that a group of Pashtun Canadians can be said to reflect the values of Pashtun on the ground in Afghanistan is a specious claim.

These people have come to another country, and many of them have lived here for a significant portion of time. Moreover, they likely moved here for a reason.

"3. ALL the polling data from the Afghanistan side flatly contradicts the assertion that "the Pashtuns support the Taliban" and provides ample evidence for the opposite case."

Right. That they don't outright support the Taliban. But they've never exactly taken up arms against the Taliban, and seem perfectly content to allow the Taliban to operate out of areas they heavily populate.

My research on the topic has suggested to me that Pashtun militias could have easily run the Taliban right out of not only Kandahar and Helmand provinces, but also out of Pakistan as well.

This has never happened. Nor have I ever read of any kind of Pashtun insurrection against the Taliban at any point of the Taliban's rule of Afghanistan.

Polling numbers are one thing, Terry. I can respect them, but there's a difference between what someone tells a poll and what they do when they have the power and opportunity to put their money where their mouth is.

The Pashtun didn't oppose the Taliban very stringently when the Taliban was actually in power.

Once again, the academic work on this suggests that this was because they and the Taliban were content to leave one another alone.

"4. ALL the electoral data from the Pakistan side flatly contradicts the assertion and provides ample evidence for the opposite case."

And yet the Taliban -- and moevements like the Red Mosque -- operate out of Pashtun-populated areas of Pakistan.

"5. The recently reported evidence of Pashtun attempts at resistance to and popular outrage about the Taliban in Swat, NWFP and FTA contradicts the assertion, and also provides ample evidence for the opposite case."

I would be encouraged about this if these incidents were shown to be part of a larger trend of active resistance to the Taliban, and opposed to isolated incidents.

But look at the history, Terry. The larger trend of active resistance isn't there. There's a trend of passive resistance, but not of active resistance.

Believe me, Terry, I'd love it if it were. But the history just doesn't reflect that.

"6. The proposition that Ahmed Rashid has ever written "supportively" of the Taliban is groundless. Even in his early years as a Marxist writing in support of the Baloch resistance, he was one of Pakistan's most eloquent voices against religious extremism. He still is, indeed now more than ever."

I've read Ahmed Rashid's book Taliban. Apologetics is not an inappropriate description of it.

If he's changed his views since then -- when he seemed to support the Taliban at least as an alternative to "Western imperialism" -- I'd positively love to know this.

"7. I'm not aware of anything of consequence that Ignatieff has ever written about the Pashtun people."

He talks about them in Empire Lite.

"8. Barnett Rubin and Ahmed Rashid have written about why the Pashtun tribal leadership occasionally hedges its bets (quite sensibly) and appeases the Taliban from time to time; neither would support the assertion that "the Pashtuns support the Taliban." Because it's groundless."

And neither would either one of them support the assertion that the Pashtun overtly oppose the Taliban, nor would either one of those two individuals claim that the Pashtun were powerless to do anything about it.

Nor would either one of them support the notion of Pashtun appeasing the Taliban. If anything, both men would support the view that the Taliban appeased the Pashtun in order to keep Afghanistan's largest ethnic group pliantly passive toward what they do in the rest of the country.

"9. The preponderance of evidence is that the majority of Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line OPPOSE the Taliban, its agenda, and its methods."

Well, Terry, my research on the topic has put me in a position where I have to argue that there's opposing the Taliban, then there's opposing the Taliban.

The Pashtun never would have accepted Taliban rule over them and never would have accepted Sharia law. That is a fact, and the historical record and other academic work on Afghanistan reflects this.

Moreover, the Taliban never actually tried to impose Sharia law over the Pashtun, and allowed them to continue living according to their Pashtunawli code.

Between Pashtun militia and the Northern Alliance the Taliban wouldn't have stood a chance of maintaining control over Afghanistan and yet the Taliban remained firmly in control of most of the country fighting periodic skirmishes with the Northern Alliance until we went in ourselves and kicked the Taliban out of Kabul.

That alone says something about the nature of Pashtun resistance to the Taliban.

Did the Pashtun oppose the Taliban? Certainly passively. But did the Pashtun oppose the Taliban? Certainly not like the Northern Alliance did.

6:28 PM  
Blogger TarekFatah said...

What is the complication here?

For years I have heard the shrill yell, "where is the voice of Muslims against terrorism?"

Now, when a group of brave souls from Canada's Pusthun community along with the Muslim Canadian Congress step up to the plate, we have to be subject to an paralysis of analysis.

I have been involved with the Pushtun nationalist movement since the late 1960s and am dumbfounded by the news that the Taliban offer some sort of authentic Pukhtoonwali tribal code.

If people cannot help us, they should leave us alone and not cause confusion.

6:35 PM  
Blogger TarekFatah said...

The last elections in Pakistan's Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly NWFP) may be of interest to some of the posters who seem to be brushing up on Kipling.

All the parties backing the Taliban were wiped out. The election was won the nationalist-secular ANP, which governs the province in a coalition with the centre-left PPP. Even the opposition is led by a non-religious centre-right ML.

How could anyone misread the results of this election? Hundreds of ANP workers and many candidates were assassinated, yet they did not stop wearing their distinct red caps.

To discuss Pushtoons as it they were some sort of a specie, not part of the human race, is down right frightening.

Come to the rally tomorrow, or ask your Toronto friends to do so, but for goodness sake, don not discuss us as if we are some exotic breed being analysed by a 19th century academic hired by the East India Company.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Thank you, Tarek. For this, and for providing such brave and consistent leadership in a struggle that demands commitment and clear thinking from all of us.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Patrick Ross said...

"What is the complication here?"

The complication, sir, is that as much as I appreciate the voice of Pashtun Canadians opposing the Taliban and supporting the efforts against them, I also have to posit that an improvement in conditions on the ground in Canada improve things very little for our efforts in Afghanistan.

What is needed is a change in conditions on the ground in Afghanistan.

If your efforts in Canada reflect a change in conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, I'd like to know.

But I'm not entirely ignorant about conditions in Afghanistan, so I have questions that must be answered before I can fully believe it.

As yet I'm sorry to say that no one has offered me persuasive answers.

"For years I have heard the shrill yell, "where is the voice of Muslims against terrorism?"

Now, when a group of brave souls from Canada's Pusthun community along with the Muslim Canadian Congress step up to the plate, we have to be subject to an paralysis of analysis.
"

These questions are important. The answers mark the difference between a realistic expectation that we're seeing the improvement we need to see and a mere pipe dream.

"I have been involved with the Pushtun nationalist movement since the late 1960s and am dumbfounded by the news that the Taliban offer some sort of authentic Pukhtoonwali tribal code.

If people cannot help us, they should leave us alone and not cause confusion.
"

Perhaps this is more reflective of the fact that, clearly, there is not only diasgreement but perhaps even confusion.

I wouldn't want to confuse the Canadian Pashtun community's overt opposition to the Taliban for opposition on the ground in Afghanistan. That's why I'm asking these questions. And while many of the answers have been far short of persuading, a few of them I do find encouraging. Such as the following:

"The last elections in Pakistan's Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly NWFP) may be of interest to some of the posters who seem to be brushing up on Kipling.

All the parties backing the Taliban were wiped out. The election was won the nationalist-secular ANP, which governs the province in a coalition with the centre-left PPP. Even the opposition is led by a non-religious centre-right ML.

How could anyone misread the results of this election? Hundreds of ANP workers and many candidates were assassinated, yet they did not stop wearing their distinct red caps.
"

This is encouraging.

But by the same token, I would still question the difference between Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan voting pro-Taliban candidates down in an election and supporting coalition efforts there.

One thing I have come to understand during my research on Afghanistan is that the very idea of central government is extremely contentious there -- that most of the ethnic groups in Afghanistan (whom combined make up a majority of the Afghan population) would oppose a central government dominated by Pashtun, but that the Pashtun themselves oppose any central government that would disrupt their way of life.

This is one of the reasons why the encapsulation strategy used by both the Taliban and the British worked, because it assauged Pashtun anxieties about the disruption of their way of life. At least as I've come to understand.

I've been led to believe that this is why many Pashtun have allowed the Taliban to operate out of areas they inhabit largely unmolested by force -- because the Taliban and the coalition will merely hurt one another and leave each so weak that neither would be able to impose governance over the Pashtun region.

Like I've said, if this is wrong, I'm listening. But I'm not going to blindly accept mere assertions that it is. I need to see some facts that refute the idea.


Now, Mr Fatah, all of this being said I appreciate the leadership you're showing. But I would urge you not to try to obfuscate anything regarding this issue in the lanuage of race or racism.

To pretend that the nuances of Pashtun culture are inapplicable to conducting the war in Afghanistan would be foolish.

It doesn't really matter how one looks at this, this is important.

If the war in Afghanistan were really an imperialist exercise, we would have to worry about occupying the Pashtun region. As what the war really is -- a cooperative effort between the coalition and Afghans -- we very much need to work with the Pashtun.

To do either effectively we need to know how to best interact with them on a cultural basis.

That is one thing your leadership could assist with. But for this to happen we need you to stop objecting to people asking questions, help us find answers, and help us dispel any persisting confusion.

I am not only listening, but also at your service if you'll only understand and accept that.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Patrick: "That is one thing your leadership could assist with. But for this to happen we need you to stop objecting to people asking questions, help us find answers, and help us dispel any persisting confusion."

I don't know who the "we" and "us" might be here. You're the one whose confusion persists. I don't know whether Tarek will bother answering, but you're not likely going to get any further by issuing instructions like this or by lecturing Tarek Fatah and accusing him of trying to "obfuscate," or by claiming that anyone here is objecting to questions being raised.

The problem here is that your questions have been answered, fully and and conclusively, and your claims have been refuted with reference to unambiguous evidence - but you persist in your misapprehensions and confusion.

Perhaps we" need to move on.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Patrick Ross said...

No, Terry. You cannot use your evidence to prove the broader historical trend you're trying to claim exists.

I'm asking Mr Fatah to be a wise leader, and to not allude to racism in order to sweep these questions away. The values he espouses indicate great wisdom. I'm asking him to put that wisdom to its fullest use.

Perhaps it is best that we move on. You clearly are not ready to probe the deeper questions regarding these matters.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Then move on, for mercy's sake, and stop insulting people who actually know something about these issues.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Patrick Ross said...

Interesting you didn't share the "don't insult people" admonition with mr "this machine kills fascists".

3:07 AM  
Blogger Riaz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:40 AM  

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