Lahore, May 11 (ANI): Many Pakistanis still do not see the Taliban as a threat and are not eager for a confrontation, as the militant outfit has become a term for everything and anything.
"Taliban in Pakistan has become a term for everything and anything," says Abid Suleri, head of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
The most common understanding of "Taliban" is Islamic hard-liners who want to implement a rigid version of Islam, a goal that resonates in Pakistan, at least in the ideal, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Another version is Pakistanis outraged by endemic corruption, unfair courts and the government's inability to supply basic education or services.
A third perception is that the Taliban are a gang of thugs using the cover of religion. According to this theory, growing a beard and waving a gun allows criminals to steal furniture, rob banks and take over rich people's houses with near impunity.
The US is widely blamed for creating the mess by funding militants in the 1980s to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, and then walking away. Now, the argument goes, the Americans are worried again and pressing the government to crack down.
"There's a feeling that this is not our war, that America created this problem," said Ayaz Amir.
"A few years ago, I'd say there was a strong anti-Americanism," a Western diplomat said. "Now I think it's become quite visceral hatred. Clearly not every one of Pakistan's 173 million people, but many view the US as insensitive with a short memory."
A former shopkeeper told the LAT he saw less of a problem with the Taliban than with the Americans. "There are the mischief Taliban and the lawful Taliban," he said. "I doubt any of the ones with guns are the real Taliban. I think it's all an American sham."
It is difficult for Pakistan's leaders to openly oppose Washington while it is willing to hand over billions of dollars. "Any government will be very careful not to offend anyone who has lots of money," analyst Zafar Hilaly said.
Analysts say the real problem is the economy. Little has been done to create jobs and give desperate people a stake in stability or enforce the rule of law.
"Teenagers will become Taliban because there are no jobs," said Aftab Alam, a policy expert. Inequality and official corruption are pervasive, and the courts are often used as a tool against political opponents. (ANI)