Conversation with Taliban on polio, education, non-harbis and a “dominant narrative”

1383944_658399817517208_1909684831_n    993638_1395040837386243_1869697328_n

(First published on personal blog, Oct, 28th, 2013)

“When your house is raided, you fight. Vaccinations and green tea afterwards”

In my previous blog I looked at fears over a potential polio epidemic in Waziristan, the tribal areas of Pakistan. As previously mentioned the Islamic Emirate (Taliban in Afghanistan) are currently supporting the polio programme and issued a statement to that effect. However the situation has become more complicated in Pakistan since the extraordinarily unethical decision from the CIA to use a vaccination programme including the services of Dr Shakil Afridi as cover in their efforts to track down and later kill Osama bin Laden.

The blowback from this has been the killing of polio workers by Taliban and other unidentified persons who now view those administering vaccines as potential spies for foreign agents. This has led to a serious breakdown in the continuity of polio eradication in some regions and the killing of some health workers.

Yesterday DAWN published a story calling for the polio debate to be included in any dialogue between government and the Taliban. They also reported the following statistics, “the total number of cases (of polio) from the tribal areas has reached 36, which accounts to more than 70% cases in Pakistan. The cases from the tribal belt include 15 from Khyber Agency, 15 from North Waziristan, five from Frontier Region (FR) Bannu and one from FR DI Khan.”

Although there is a willingness from community agencies to tackle polio and increase immunisation, the security risk cannot be ignored I decided to take this issue back to TTP myself to elicit their response. This also led on to a sharing of views on other issues and questions raised by several interested members of the public. As several people were contributing to the conversation, I have covered by subject matter and subsequent answers from the Taliban.

Conversation with the Taliban

What are your thoughts on polio programme?

Sister, we are not opposed to healthcare per se but have to take certain measures to curtail spy operations carried out undercover. We simply cannot ignore spy operations under their cover. Our enemies want to vaccinate our children before droning them.

There have been cases similar to that of Dr Shakil Afridi.

For Allah and His Nabi (PBUH) sake we are willing to sacrifice our lives, vaccination is petty. Drones and Pakistan army killing our children. The ground intelligence is provided to the US by ISI, we have attacked Camp Chapman, others.

Why don’t you get military establishment to end their treachery for Allah & Nabi’s (PBUH) sake? Please visit our areas and check the stats. Our children are not dying of polio but other factors.

The present world order that kills 30,000 children every day wants to vaccinate children – children they will kill later on anyway.

There are many Shakil Afridis and collaborating NGOs on the ground.

Brothers, sisters, we appreciate your naseeha (meaning advice). Barak Allahu fiek (may Allah bless you… Arabic).  We understand the challenges on the ground better. Things will change. Over 30,000 children die everyday around the world owing to the policies of the secular world order.

When your house is raided, you fight. Vaccinations and green tea afterwards.

What about claiming responsibility regarding killing of polio workers?

Not in every case. In some cases we had no involvement. We understand our operational parameters.

For those seeking to go beyond silly conspiracy theories about mujahideen, here is a start:  (The link mentioned was produced by Taliban in response to commonly asked questions and provides answers and additional links)

What about using an Islamic Relief organization for vaccination programme? 

Enemy’s money? You mean (use) the Coalition Support Fund and IMF loans? Read 

But you are frontline allies of the “bad guys”. You get Coalition Support Fund from them. We are fighting them.

 Unfortunately most of our organisations operate within the framework defined by those fighting us. Someone with bleeding wounds does not worry about a pimple. Our organisations are unable to speak truth without worrying about dominant narrative.

What about 5 year child who needs vaccination for polio?

Yes, if he survives the ‘allied’ forces attack.

If the military raids your house, why do you retaliate against civilians? Have you forgotten rules of Islamic warfare?

Please go through this:  You  will find detailed rulings on “night raids” in classical works of fiqh. Please go through them

In Islam there is a concept of Ulema-e-Soo. Those who issue fatwas to protect the oppressors.

An understanding of theology & war strategy helps in understanding some issues.

It is haram to deliberately target the non-harbi. (A harbi is defined as someone at war with Islam)

This could take the form of someone knowingly fighting against Islam in a physical sense, supporting a war against Islam economically, through propaganda, through strategising and so on.

And we consider it HARAM to deliberately target ordinary people. Please go through and listen to the audio

What about killing of climbers in Nanga Parbat?

Ordinary people are non-harbi. We will try to publish some details. In general, not a good idea to highlight some strategies

May we most politely request you to read the translation of Sura Anfaal and Tawbah (at least)

The Quran does not say to kill/hurt anybody in Shariah’s name/wiping the terrorists (like drones do)?

May we most politely request you to read the translation of Sura Anfaal and Tawbah (at least)

Taliban ruled Afghanistan for a number of years, no basic health care was provided. Why was that?

Sir, you are living in the past. New generation, ground realities different, evolved world view. Alhamdolillah we are not a people who would cling to their mistakes. Islam commands us to learn.

Some people propagate all sorts of lies. Our stance is clear. Healthcare is basic Islamic right. Islam defines clear policies. Islam does not allow privatisation of healthcare. By the help of Allah, we will implement a model healthcare system. Darkest hour before sunrise. You will find the Islamic system to be the most just. Healthcare would not be attached to economic status.

What are your thoughts on education?

Islam opposes privatisation of education. Khalifah’s son will be sitting with the children of “commoners”. We shall offer you a comprehensive package.

Islam makes education compulsory for men & women, rich & poor. Go beyond the boring old propaganda and myths.

This separation between Islamic and “secular” education has no basis. Islam emphasises on knowledge for men and women.

What are your thoughts on the media?

Ask journalists how their organisations have been manipulating facts and lying. Attempts to censor us

We appreciate fair reporting. We wish many of the journalists had moral courage of Carol Anne Grayson

The Afghan Taliban in the 90s opposed TVs and pictures. Do you share this view?

Yes, they did in the 90s. Not anymore.

Have you been approached by government regarding dialogue as indicated by Sharif on recent visit to US 

No official approach from the government yet,  rumour mongering in the media.

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.



Comments are closed.