Pakistan’s Future: An Interview with Mullah Nazir Ahmad

BY Herschel Smith
13 years, 5 months ago

The Jamestown Foundation recently provided us with the main contents of an important interview of Taliban Mullah Nazir Ahmad.  The entire interview is worth study, but two paragraphs will be repeated here.

When asked why the mujahideen fight the democratic and Islamic government of Pakistan, Maulvi Nazir said Pakistan is run by an infidel government equivalent to Christian and Jewish governments, corroborating his claim by quoting a verse from the Quran that forbids Muslims from allying themselves with Christians and Jews. In typical Salafi fashion, Maulvi Nazir considers democracy a defective and mundane system devised by Western infidels. “Any system resulting from counting the votes of Shiites, Christians and alcoholic electors is a blasphemous and defunct system.” On the legitimacy of the mujahideen drive to implement Shari’a, Mullah Nazir said the religious scholars and shaykhs that support Shari’a had either been arrested or killed by the regime. The mujahideen consider Islamabad’s approval of Shari’a in some areas in Pakistan a hoax to manipulate the Mujahideen into laying down their arms.  The mujahideen will only do this when Shari’a is applied across all of Pakistan.

Mullah Nazir is sure the rocket attacks that have killed many mujahideen are perpetrated by the Pakistani army with the help of U.S. forces and not solely by the Americans, as the Islamabad government claims. According to the Mullah, Pakistani spies use SIM tracking systems to pinpoint mujahideen locations for attack. Mullah Nazir promised no amnesty for government agents captured by the mujahideen, threatening to kill them immediately.  He also pledged to shoot down Pakistani spy planes, such as the two planes shot down by anti-aircraft guns near the city of Angur Adda a few months ago. On suicide bombings, Mullah Nazir denied mujahideen involvement in the bombings of mosques and crowded places and accused the ISI of carrying out the attacks to undermine the mujahideen. In spite of the war waged by the Pakistani government against the mujahideen, Mullah Nazir claims that mujahideen morale is very high and they will continue their jihad until they reach Islamabad.

This couldn’t be clearer.  They intend to go right to the doorsteps of Parliament.  Pakistan will be theirs before they stop, or at least, so they say.  The Taliban, the invention of the Pakistan ISI, became a monster too violent to tame, and yet the Pakistan Army ISI and Army are still the problem – the ISI because of their continued support of them, the Army because of its continued preoccupation with India.

But the problems in Pakistan run somewhat deeper than this, all the way to institutional recalcitrance.

Put simply, the Taliban, murderous as it is, is not the problem. The problem is the Pakistani military and the stubborn refusal of Washington to comprehend this basic reality. We need to remind ourselves that Pakistan is not a sovereign state with a military, but a sovereign military with a state at its disposal to use as it sees fit. And it has been that way almost from the beginning of Pakistan’s existence, despite an occasional short interlude of civilian rule. To maintain its undisputed dominance and its claims to a huge chunk of the national treasure, the military needed the specter of a powerful enemy and an ideology capable of mobilizing the largely illiterate masses behind its self-image as savior of the nation. It found the former in India, the latter in radical Islam …

… what needs to be done without delay is to start the process of transforming the Pakistani military back into an instrument of the state from its current status as a state within the state. The military must be denied once and for all the role of political kingmaker it has long exercised, as well as the inordinate influence it has in the economy. Further, the ISI must be either closed down or put under strict civilian control. Islamabad must also seriously consider doing away with the special status of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which has contributed to the prevailing lawlessness that the Taliban has exploited. A reconciliation with India is an essential precondition to the success of all of these measures and is very doable; a reconciliation with the Islamist thugs is not. This is the only kind of Washington agenda that would offer real hope of stabilization in Pakistan and the eventual defeat of the Taliban across the border. Unless some progress is made along these lines, Congress should refuse to provide even one more penny in aid, regardless of what Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari promises.

But time is of the essence. The Taliban may not be at the gates of Islamabad yet but the ongoing radical Islamization of the country may be reaching the tipping point. The North-West Frontier Province is, for the most part, no longer controlled by the government. The greatest immediate danger lies in the huge inroads made by the fanatics in the Punjab heartland, especially southern Punjab and the key urban areas (Lahore, Multan, and Karachi). If the Punjab becomes ungovernable, Pakistan will not survive long as a unitary state.

We’ve documented the difficulties that Punjan will soon face, as well as the ongoing Talibanization of Karachi.  Noted one well-connected Pakistani politician, “Karachi is the jugular vein of Pakistan,” said Farooq Sattar, head of the MQM, as he sipped an iced yogurt drink on one of Karachi’s main streets, surrounded by guards carrying AK-47s. “If Karachi is destabilized, the whole country is dead.”

The Taliban have told us of their intentions, and the pieces are falling into place in large cities in Punjab.  The only question is how long it will take for Pakistan to wake and denude the dangerous ISI and turn the Army loose on the real state enemy, the Taliban?


  1. On May 11, 2009 at 7:28 am, brianh said:

    Love your blog Captain. One question though. Have you seen any evidence to link ISI with TTP? I’m not talking about the Taliban who operate outside Pakistan.

    I think you have a good point about the ISI starting the problem long ago by forming the Taliban to fight in Kashmir but they don’t seem to have ever supported the Taliban who fight within Pakistan.

    My point here is that your last statement may have it backwards. I’m not sure there’s any reason to believe the ISI is (or is even capable of) holding the Army back if the Army wanted to do anything.

  2. On May 11, 2009 at 11:19 am, TSAlfabet said:

    Ditto. Great post, great points Captain.

    A few thoughts:

    1. It seems that there is a dire need for calling bluffs with Pakistan. Roughly, the game-playing seems to fall out along these lines: We (P-stan) cannot fight the T-ban without massive amounts of U.S. military aid, but even with the aid we cannot fight the T-ban because something like 80% of our useful military force is tied up on the border with India and we cannot withdraw because of the large Indian force there. So… wouldn’t this be a great opportunity for the Obamessiah to use his charms on the Indians and Paks to de-escalate by withdrawing forces from the border in gradual increments, perhaps to be replaced by all those legions of EU/NATO troops that are dying to support and help the U.S. now that we have a President who will grovel and apologize appropriately? Or, to dispense with the sarcasm and assuming that the U.S. foreign policy and DoD was in competent and rational hands, the U.S. might make some guarantees and extend aid to India in return for an initial drawdown of troops at the Pak border followed by intense pressure on the Pak military to remove a similar number of troops which would then be freed to the fight against the T-ban. Of course, this is B.S. as the Pak army has no intention of fighting their own. Which leads to point #2…

    2. I hope to God there is a Wild Bill Donovan of sorts in the CIA who is forging relationships with the appropriate punjabi officers in the Pak army and making a secret agreement that when (not if) the T-ban close in on either nuclear sites or the capital, then these officers will mutiny, seize control of the nukes and receive immediate U.S. recognition of their new, fait accompli government. Perhaps India could do its part by occupying (annexing?) the Punjab and allow the pashtun part of Pakistan to fry in their own grease. Any pakistanis who actually cherish democracy can move to the new state of Punjab and the remaining provinces f/k/a Pakistan will split into the state of Baluchistan and the confederation of terrorist Pashtunistan. And then the U.S. can effectively cut off the Taliban from all economic and material aid from the outside— starve them out. Logistics is a lovely, two-way street, eh?

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You are currently reading "Pakistan’s Future: An Interview with Mullah Nazir Ahmad", entry #2875 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Pakistan,Taliban,Tehrik-i-Taliban and was published May 10th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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