The normalization of life in the Swat Valley, where the inhabitants are returning to their homes after fleeing the military confrontation between the Taliban and the Pakistani Army, is a happy development. The Taliban have lost their hold on the Swat Valley, where they had managed to carve out an ultra-Islamic republic inside and with the approval of the Islamic republic of Pakistan. Does this prove militant Islam is now on the decline?
Pakistan, born from the refusal of the Indian Muslims to coexist with non-Muslims in a multicultural society, is an Islamic republic. Any Islamic militant who would like to see an uncompromising implementation of the Shari'a, may think that Pakistan is still too soft, but can at least base his campaign for an even more intensive Islamization on the existing Constitution. Islamists in Pakistan don't need revolution, they should be able to realize their goals by working within the system.
Yet, they have repeatedly made the mistake of taking up arms against the Pakistani state. Two years ago, there was the waste in human lives as a consequence of the militants' occupation of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad. Then the murder of Benazir Bhutto, expected to become Prime Minister, in Rawalpindi. And recently, the military expansion of the Taliban from the stronghold in Swat, forcing the Pakistani Government to reassert its authority and oust the Taliban from the province. The Government had practically conceded Swat to them as a fiefdom where they could freely impose Islamic commandments to their heart's delight. That Pakistani Government had always been their closest ally, even through the G.W. Bush years when it had to pretend to side with the US in the “war on terror”. And yet they managed to antagonize this best friend by overplaying their hand.
We have witnessed the same phenomenon in Iraq. The militants of “Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia” had American soldiers' lives for the taking. If they had focused on fighting the Americans, they could have humiliated the sole superpower far more deeply than they actually did. Instead, they started attacking Shi'ite fellow Muslims, blowing up mosques and attacking unarmed crowds of pilgrims to Kerbela. Killing Muslims by way of collateral damage in the war on the Infidels was understandable, but the Muslim masses could not tolerate the deliberate and massive killing of fellow Muslims. So, Al-Qaida lost its support base, a vital element in any guerrilla, and Iraqi tribal chieftains went over to the pro-American side.
Islamic strategists with a broad view may not be unduly worried over these lost opportunities. The Taliban may not have retained their hold on Swat, but the state that has reasserted control there, is still an Islamic Republic. Al-Qaida may not have taken power in Iraq, but the Iraqi Government is still made up of Muslims who stand by when the Christian minority is chased out and who openly rejoice at every stage in the retreat of the US Army. Nevertheless, the spearheads of the Islamic revolution have miscalculated and been defeated in their specific local objectives.
What is wrong with Muslims that they waste such golden opportunities? If you can get even the Pakistani state, the biggest sponsor of Islamic terrorism worldwide, to take up arms against you, shouldn't you realize you're objectively acting as an agent of the anti-Islamic world conspiracy of Zionists, Crusaders and Hindu idolaters? The question deserves closer scrutiny.
Meanwhile, it confirms my long-standing position that if ever we lose against the Islamic plans of conquest, it can only be due to slackness in mobilizing our brains against this not-so-talented enemy. I don't do "Islamophobia", I don't fear an impending Islamic world conquest. Not because of the rosy dogma that the whole idea of Islamic world conquest is a farcical and fanciful invention (for there are enough Muslim leaders who have affirmed just such a vision), but because the Muslim world rarely lives up to its potential. Neither economically nor in cultural production. But not even in political and military confrontations either. Their threatening postures should not intimidate us. We are capable of outwitting them.