Rehman Malik acted very wisely in contradicting Musharraf’s labelling of Nawaz Sharif as a ‘closet Taliban’ in his Seattle speech and called him a patriot. I’m sure it’s tempting to join in on the get PML-N pileup that’s going on these days but I’m not sure it’s particularly productive since all it really seems to be doing is strengthening the military by pitting the two parties against each other (as usual). I mean, there’s something really strange in a situation in which the COAS meeting with the Chief Minister of Punjab to chastise him is not seen as anything but a gross overstepping by the COAS. (See this article for another example of just how far Kayani has gone). And anyway, what did Kayani say in his lecture to Shahbaz? “Shahbaz, it’s very, very bad to support ‘bad’ Taliban – look at me, I only support Haqqanis (strategic assets), Mullah Omar (strategic asset), and of course Hafiz Saeed but that’s because I am pragmatic and realize that our foreign policy must be India-centric. What excuse do you have?”
Anyway, Rehman Malik’s uncharacteristically sensible statement on Nawaz Sharif probably smoothed some of the pain of the cabinet meeting held on the subject of the Punjabi Taliban. This is an interesting account by Rauf Klasra of the meeting in which the Interior Ministry made a presentation on the Punjabi Taliban. Apparently Shahbaz Sharif was force-fed some reality on the issue:
Sources said that Shahbaz Sharif sharply reacted and wondered how could “killers, rapist, dacoits and robbers” be called Punjabi Taliban. Shahbaz was not ready to accept the statement given in the cabinet meeting that instead of finding excuses and role of Pashtun Taliban, it was high time to focus on the activities of the Punjabi Taliban who were in fact behind the recent wave of terrorism.