https://pakistan.asia-news.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_pf/features/2017/08/16/feature-01
| Media

Pakistani Taliban's women's magazine slammed as publicity stunt

By Javed Mahmood

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The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)'s new online women's magazine is a publicity stunt with serious implications, analysts say. [File]

KARACHI -- Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan's (TTP) recent launch of an online magazine intended for women is a stunt aimed at drawing global attention by showing a presence on social media, analysts say.

"The Taliban have realised the significance of women's role in fanning militancy, and they have launched the magazine 'Sunnat-e-Khaula' to motivate women to join the militancy," said Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a security think tank in Islamabad founded by civil society activists.

The TTP expects to have radicalised women help them carry out terrorist attacks, recruit fighters and help expand their dwindling network in Pakistan, Gul told Pakistan Forward.

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The English language magazine urges women to learn how to use weapons and grenades, supports child marriages and urges women to engage with 'like-minded jihadi sisters'. [File]

Military operations during the past three years have minimised the Taliban's capability to carry out terrorist attacks and now the TTP are looking for new strategies to restore their might, he said.

Taliban seeking out Pakistan's soft spots

Although the launch of the new magazine is a publicity stunt, its implications are serious, analysts warn.

The Taliban can find vulnerable areas in Pakistan, especially in areas characterised by male chauvinism, Gul said.

"In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, most of the women follow the orders of male family members [such as their] father, brother or husband," he said.

"The security apparatus and civil society in the country should strongly oppose the Taliban's ... launch of this magazine or any other strategy [of female recruitment]," he said, adding that security forces must apprehend the TTP members attempting to lure women into extremism.

"The Taliban are misusing Islam by promoting false narratives among those Pakistanis who have a soft spot for militants," Mubasher Mir, Karachi resident editor of Daily Pakistan, told Pakistan Forward.

The TTP is following the footsteps of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) and involving more and more women in terrorism, he said.

Moreover, the Taliban are callous to use the name of a popular Arab female Muslim warrior and early follower of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the title of their magazine, Mir said.

Hazrat Khaula Bint al-Azwar is revered for fighting in some wars alongside her brother, Hazrat Zarar Ibne Azwar, in the 7th century.

"[Khaula] is known as a heroine, while the Taliban are famous as villains all over the world," he said.

TTP 'stunt' for global attention

The Taliban are "cowards" to use women and children in terrorist activities, said Murtaza Mughal, chairman of the Islamabad chapter of Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust, a research institution.

"We ... urge religious scholars, clerics, civil society and the general public to voice their concern against the nefarious motives of the militants who [are discovering] new strategies to defame Pakistan, attract global attention and show their strength and presence on social media," he told Pakistan Forward.

"Islam promotes peace, tolerance and harmony in society, but the fanatics are misusing it ... to implement their own agenda and achieve their nefarious motives," he said.

Military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad, launched in June 2014 and February 2017, have eliminated the militants' strongholds and left the terrorists with no other choice but to go underground in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mughal said.

"Before the start of military Operation Zarb-e-Azb, there were many strongholds and hideouts of militant groups throughout the country," he said. "But now we don't see any stronghold of the TTP or other outfits."

"The launching of the online magazine seems a stunt of the TTP to grab global attention and show the world its presence on social media," he said.

At the height of the Taliban's influence in Pakistan, the militant group regularly put out publications in Urdu and English, hoping to attract recruits.

The militant group was also active on Facebook and Twitter, but most of its social media pages have now been closed.

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