The conditional humanity of Taliban

Published: August 17, 2010

Pakistani aid workers load food supplies onto a US Marines helicopter at Ghazi Base. PHOTO: AFP

The Taliban have a humane side. No, I’m not kidding. It must be humanity that prompted the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan to offer $20 million for the aid of flood victims and distribute relief goods.

The scenario baffles the mind. Imagine the TTP in Swat, one of the worst hit areas.

I assume victims would be directed to line up at Khooni Chowk in Mingora. I can imagine TTP workers shouting “All those who adhere to our brand of Islam, line up for aid. Anyone who dares to defy us, can go drown in the raging waters.”

Obviously, this generous $20 million offer comes with a catch.

The aid is available on the condition that the government refuses all foreign aid being offered by the West.  Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq made his kind offer earlier this week and urged the government not to accept any foreign aid for the victims of the worst floods in Pakistan’s history.

Sadly for them, so far, the big bad West remains our biggest donor. With United Nations sending out appeals for more help, it is likely that the aid flowing in from the West will increase.

When viewed through Taliban-tinted-glasses, the situation poses dire threats to our way of life.

In the past the TTP has accused various international aid groups and NGOs of trying to contaminate our society with un-Islamic values. The opposition has not stopped at verbal threats but has often translated into brutal violence. Bombings at the offices of NGOs and kidnapping of the personnel are not rare. So, really, the demand to refuse international aid should not come as any surprise.

What is surprising is the fact that these people still have the nerve to pass themselves off as defenders of Islam – a religion which lays enormous emphasis on the rights of fellow human beings .

I wonder how these self righteous, self-proclaimed guardians of Islam justify this demand. I also wonder if TTP actually has $20 million to spare – why is it conditional to Western aid being withdrawn? Isn’t it their Islamic and moral responsibility to help a huge population of Muslims?

Then again, the TTP is nothing if not hypocritical.

So far, the offer to give Islamic aid in place of un-Islamic aid is limited to money, they should really think about upgrading the offer and include some relief equipment to the package.

After all, 4 Chinook and 2 Black Hawk American helicopters have been flown in from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to aid rescue operations. And no matter how strong the ‘great’ Hakimulllah Mehsud maybe, I’m sure even he cannot transport hundreds of victims to shelters in one trip.


Sadaf Khan

A broadcast journalist based in Islamabad who was formerly associated with Geo News and Dunya News. She blogs at

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shahzad Ali

    You can only imagine in your cozy little room, thank you, for sharing your imagination and about the helicopters and did you say anything about drones and innocent lives and marriage bombings? Recommend

  • abid


    Talking about Pakistan only, have drones killed more people or Taliban?Recommend

  • Hamood

    TTP is a terrorist organization and they are to be chased down and destroyed wherever they are. Their offer is only a gimmick, all they are good at is killing, suicide bombing, beheading, destroying anybody and anything that does not agree with their ideology. Recommend

  • Mango man

    TTP should be wiped out from the face of the earth.Recommend

  • Ali Raza

    I can imagine TTP workers shouting “All those who adhere to our brand of Islam, line up for aid. Anyone who dares to defy us, would be shot and hurled in the raging waters.” I would rather say.Recommend

  • salman

    TTP will get this $20 million from looting our banks/ kidnapping for ranson/ drug trade/ arms trade and those foreign powers that desire instability in our country so yeah, we do not want this blood tainted money.Recommend

  • faraz

    @Shahzad Its shocking that people still arent sure about the taliban. Taliban invite these drone attacks, why dont the taliban drop their weapons and go back to their homes, whose stopping them? 3 million residents of Swat had to live in cozy little camps because of these terrorists.Recommend

  • Saleem Kirla

    @Shahzad: American helicopters have saved more lives in a couple of weeks than the total number of casualties in all drone attacks since the start of the conflict in the tribal areas. Fact.Recommend

  • Amit Kumar

    I do not think there will be trouble in finding who adheres to to Taliban brand of Islam. Here is how.

    Poll of Pakistanis released last month by the respected Pew Centre
    More people see al-Qaida, the Taliban and homegrown groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba more favourably than the US, .
    More than 80% supported segregating men and women in the workplace, stoning adulterers and whipping or amputation for thieves. Three in four endorse the death penalty for apostasy.Recommend

  • Hamood

    @Amit, I don’t have much faith in polls to be honest. Every time any general elections are held in Pakistan, all the religious parties combined can not get more than 5% of the total vote (Taliban wouldn’t be able to get even 1%). Pakistanis are mostly moderate in general. I am afraid however that if the secular mainstream political parties keep failing again and again, this may change.Recommend

  • imran

    @Amit, simple question for u, what do u feel about RSS,Sangh pariwar,Modi and gujrat killings…..Recommend

  • Sadia Hussain

    The conditional humanity of Taliban is deplorable and equally disgusting. They are not remotely concerned with the welfare of the masses; this is just another PR stunt? One also wonders from where they would muster 20 million USD. Drug trafficking perhaps!Recommend

  • Shahzad Ali

    @abid @faraz @Saleem Kirla
    First of all you all assume things, weird imagination. I am in no way morally or practically in support of TTP.
    @abid: say TTP has killed more, does that justify drone attacks?
    @Faraz: no one invites the drones, its the in-competent coward and moral-less government who have “sold” the attacks. Do you not think Pakistan Army can do better than the drone attacks? or maybe Pak Army thinks we may go to stone age! and all this time we were taught, “shair ke aik din ki zindagi gidarh ki so sala zindagi say behtar hoti hay”. What our country is running on is nothing but pure blood money!
    @Saleem Kirla: Nice logic, that totally justifies the killing of innocent people, and the non-innocent people. Recommend

  • Sadaf Khan

    @ Shahzad. So if I am sitting in a cozy room I should not say anything about Taliban? Or if I do, I should just drag the drones in no matter what I am writing about?
    Try to have an open mind and look at things the way they are intended, this is not a piece about what should and should not be.Recommend

  • Sadaf Khan

    @Amit I’ve been a working journalist for more than 5 years, have met, seen, observed people in various parts of Pakistan. And yeah, if you go to tribal areas, the more conservative areas of KP maybe you would find some groups 80% of whom would actually support stoning and amputation.
    But then again, move to Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore as well a lot more cites and ask and you’d get the exact opposite result.
    Empirical Data is not empirical if the sample was initially drawn out of a particular group or like minded people.
    I have no idea who and how many took part in the poll you quoted, but seriously, it is completely ridiculous to believe that 80% Pakistanis support / are okay with what the TTP does. Recommend


    Take aid from TTP and you would see them asking flood victims to show their nikkah namas before collecting aid, and females wearing burqas to protect ‘honour’ first then come to save lives! HUH!Recommend

  • rehan

    Wonderful!Sadaf..they have BILLIONS!Now don’t ask me where it comes from,you are the journalist not me.Recommend

  • faraz

    @Shahzad Drone attacks started in 2007 when US got fed up of our double games. Army was just milking the US for dollors. After 911 we allowed taliban to settle in waziristan and tribals werent warned about the hazards of renting their homes to taliban. Musharraf carried out half hearted operations and those tribals who supported the army were left at the mercy of those taliban. Our army has never won a war in history, it simply relies on propaganda; it is helpless against these taliban. In recent south waziristan operation, 30,000 troops managed to kill only 500 terrorists; they army has its limitations and the top brass knows it. Army supports these drone attacks and ISI is providing intelligence for these drone strikes. But you should start from the 80s when we started indoctrinating poor kids to fight proxy wars in kashmir and afghanistan; we were happy as long these “good taliban” were being killed outside the country. Recommend

  • Hamood

    Faraz says “Our army has never won a war in history”.
    Yes it has. The 1948 war that liberated 1/3 of Kashmir by using guerillas/tribals and standard troops. Even the 1965 war which was a stalemate could be considered a victory because an enemy 4-5 bigger wasn’t able to achieve much.
    Faraz says “it is helpless against these taliban”.
    It is not helpless against Taliban. The Taliban were routed in Swat within a month.
    Faraz says “30,000 troops managed to kill only 500 terrorists”
    Thats because most Taliban ran away and hid like rats. But you conveniently forgot to mention that most of them ran away to Orakzai where thousands of them were killed by the army. Infact Pak army has had much better success against Taliban than the US-led NATO forces across the border, A FACT EVEN ACKNOWLEDGED BY US GENERALS.Recommend

  • Absar

    Isn’t it their Islamic and moral
    responsibility to help a huge
    population of Muslims?

    I wish they were that Islamic to understand it, as well that country is going through what crisis due to their barbarity!Recommend

  • Shahzad Ali

    @Sadaf Khan: Yes, America, Taliban and Drones go hand in hand. Just a few days ago while there were floods, US drones fired in NW. No one really knows who died in it. After all its a missile, that kills many, not a bullet! Its like those people lives don’t worth anything. And Yes, in your cozy little room, all you can do is take clues from the twisted media and biased journalists, unaware of the ground realities, and then start writing as much biased crap as your sources.
    How can one have an open mind when you curry favor the US for them being the saviors of the world! Don’t you see all the chaos in the world, Don’t you see how they liberated the Iraqis? The way I see this piece of crap, is that you wrote, the TTP is bad and the US is our guardian angel and my point is to stop curry favoring the US, the US is worse than the TTP.Recommend

  • faraz

    In 1948 war, the army sent tribals into kashmir (later they got addicted to this method of using civilians to fight wars). The tribals were intercepted by Indian army, and while they were being strafed and bombed by Indians, our army decided not to intervene after a meeting that was held at the GHQ. Quaid asked the army to support the tribals but the army refused but nobody was fired for this insubordiantion. Indians repelled the tribals from outside Srinagar, and army only moved to defend the areas captured by the tribals. It planned a counter offensive which never materialized.

    In 1965, after the failed Operation Gibraltor, we launched operation Grandslam on 1st september which miserably failed due to a ridiculous decision of change of command. On 6th september, the Indians only expanded the war by attacking Lahore. It was a stalemate and not all wars lead to annihalation of one army; but in case of stalemate, the army which starts a war and fails to achieve its objectives is consider the loser.
    Army routed the swat militants in its third attempt after vacating the entire valley of its population, it failed in the previous two operations. But dont forget that it was fighting in its own backyard against its own “strategic assets”. And what about the failure of the agencies who couldnt detect such massive build up of arms in FATA and Swat. If it was a ridiculous double game or mere incompetence, who is responsible?
    Yes taliban did run away but didnt the army anticipate that? Thats poor planning, hundreds of billions of ruppees were spent in shifting troops and establishing lines of communication across a difficult terrain, but the enemy escaped. Why didnt the army first enter Orakzari and Kurram to plug the escape routes of taliban. 3Recommend

  • Harsh

    what do u feel about RSS,Sangh pariwar,Modi and gujrat killings…..

    I hope am not guilty of derailing the topic.Rss is a communal organisation but NOT a terror organisation.

    Gujarat riots happened because 57 hindu pilgrims ere burnt alive in a train bogey by muslim mob. In the tragic horrific riots that happened thereafter a lot many people ere killed. Most of them ere mulims, 1/3rd ere Hindus too. supreme court is monitoring the cases against those responsible. Many of those responsible for riots have been punished, large number of those punished are hinduRecommend

  • Sadaf Khan

    @ Shahzad, Stop twisting everything and seeing everything from your hate tinted glasses.
    In case you didn’t get it the first time, This is NOT a piece about war against terrorism, this is about humanitarian aid and floods. I have absolutely no need to mention drone attacks when I am talking about aid for flood victims. Unlike you I don’t see the world as us v.s. them all the time, and so thankfully retain my capacity to think beyond the perceptual hang up over U.S. Again, this is NOT about who is the bigger evil, this is NOT about U.S, at all, this is ONLY about the hypocrisy of TTP. What U.S. might or might not be, it is not maligning the name of Islam and it is not using Islam as an excuse to commit the most heinous crimes against humanity.
    Your tantrum is only further proof that we as a nation would much rather slam the U.S. rather than taking any responsibility of what was and IS our own fault.
    Even though by your definition, just the fact that I am writing this from a cozy room disqualified me from giving an opinion, I’m sure even you aren’t sitting in a cave in Tora Bora responding to this ‘crap’. And anyways, why are you even reading biased crap when Al Qaeda’s ‘inspire’ is available online?
    Do check that out, I’m sure they’d fuel your hatred and make you feel much better.Recommend

  • Shahzad Ali

    @SadafKhan: Please read what our senator has said, “It is very unfortunate that Americans can launch a drone attack from Shahbaz airbase but the government is helpless even in using the country’s base for relief operations”. Why? Because the Jacobbabad base is under American control! I understand this is too latest for you. But I hope since now you would mention it.
    I may respond to this from anywhere I wish since I am not a journalist even though I do meet people, the affected people, to base my arguments on and to filter out biased from unbiased. You are disqualified to give an opinion based on your sources of information and your biased depiction of the US to present them as our guardian angels with no mention of their evils, and numbness towards the pain and suffering of the people of FATA, as is reflected from your writing.
    I condemn any attack on my brothers, sisters, mothers, the children and the elders, and on my fellow citizens of any age tribe or race, and will raise my voice against it where I can, and so should you if you feel.Recommend

  • Sadaf Khan

    What the senator says, is pretty much a political gimmick but ofcourse, everything is fair if it is directed at American.The U.S. helis have rescued above 6000 people slandered in the flood hit areas and have distributed thousands of tons of relief goods. Do you even realize that above 50% of all food supplied going to the affactees has been contributed by WFP?
    Oh yeah, WHY would you care, after all, they HAVE to do it cause they launched the drone attacks – so what if it was OUR army and intelligence which supplied the coordinates.
    But really, I’m not wasting my time anymore trying to talk sense into someone who’d rather play ostrich. Recommend

  • Shahzad Ali

    @SadafKhan: In 2009 only US murdered 700 civilians in drone strikes only. So balance it in your writing!Recommend

  • Sadaf Khan

    In 2009 above 500 suicide blasts resulted in countless civilian deaths.
    In 2010 the TTP and its friends successfully wrecked our economy by hijacking Karachi.
    In 2010 flood – the world decided NOT to aid us, as they were afraid of the TTP benefiting from their money.
    Oh but wait! it is all U.S.’s fault.
    Thank You for showing me the light! It is all so easy when I blame everything on U.S. I really dont have to THINK and take ANY responsibility.
    Hail TTP! Death to DronesRecommend

  • Saleem Kirla

    @Shahzad: The Jacobabad air base story was false. (And a “senator” didn’t say it, the health secretary did. The learned senators simply played along without critically examining his testimony. Par for the course in parliament. READ BEFORE YOU COMMENT, sheesh.) The Health Secretary was talking nonsense. The newspaper that published it should’ve been more responsible than to simply print statements by (a clearly dogmatic anti-US) bureaucrat. Four calls today — one to the US Embassy, one to the Pakistan Air Force, one to a friend covering the floods in Sindh, and the other to the Sindh Health Dept — cleared it up. The PAF and other relief aircraft have been using Shahbaz AB as a supply hub for days now.

    If you are going to be a rabid anti-American cyberwarrior, try to hold on to facts. But then you lot never really did let facts get in the way of a good whinge about why America is so evil.Recommend