Since 9/1 there has been a split within many Muslim societies between those who regard Osama bin Laden and other groups urging violence as the embodiment of the Muslim religion versus those who believe that Osama and the Taliban are threats to the existence of their societies. Just about every poll of Pakistanis over the past decade has revealed a significant percent which favors the Taliban and distrusts the United States. A recent poll carried out by Socio-Economic Development Consultants in Islamabad reveals a dramatic shift in Pakistani opinions. More than 80% of Pakistanis now regard the Taliban and al-Qaida as threats to their society. The violent behavior of the Taliban in the Swat Valley where they beat young women, forced men to grow beards or killed those who opposed them shocked most Pakistanis. For the first time they saw the true face of the Taliban and it was a shocking sight.
According to political analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais: “some people had this feeling that Taliban were good people and very religious and they have good intentions and they’re nationalists. But, today the sentiment against the Taliban is very strong because they are a disruptive force. They don’t present an alternative to the modern nation-state. They don’t have a vision for the economy.”
Now, is the time for massive Western aid to help Pakistan construct a modern education system that will wean bright young boys and girls from the oppressive and narrow Taliban education provided in the madrassas.