Hamas builds while Taliban bomb schools | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 31, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 31, 2009

Hamas builds while Taliban bomb schools

Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas probably have more suicide bombers than Taliban, but they are different from each other. Top leadership of Hamas and Taliban is on the target of US-made drones and F-16 planes but they don't share views on many key issues.
A senior female Hamas leader Dr Jamila Shanti described that "we respect those brothers fighting against the foreign occupational forces in Afghanistan but we strongly oppose all those who are bombing girl schools in the north of Pakistan in the name of Islam".
Dr Jamila Shanti is a PhD in English literature. She was teaching in the biggest university of Gaza for many years but after the assassination of her husband Abdul Aziz Ramatisi by Israelis, she has devoted herself for Hamas activities. She is a big supporter of suicide bombings, because she thinks that "fidaeen attack (suicide bombing as described by western media) is a weapon of weak people against a strong enemy. But this weapon of death should be used only against oppressors and foreign occupational forces, not against fellow innocent Muslims".
Dr Jamila Shanti always encouraged young women to join the militant wing of Hamas called "Qassam brigades", but at the same time she supports modern education for women. Many schools established for poor boys and girls by Hamas in Gaza have surprised all those journalists who have been covering Afghanistan and conflict in Pakistani tribal areas from many years. An Italian journalist is making a documentary on Taliban and Hamas. He is trying to understand that both the outfits represent Sunni Islam, both believe in Jihad but why they are different from each other?
Some Palestinians in Gaza are of the view that few months back Hamas and Al Fatah were engaged in a bloody civil war like Pakistani Taliban are fighting a war against their own Army but Hamas never attacked girl's schools even once in last 22 years of its creation. Interior Minister of Hamas administration in Gaza Ihab al-Ghussein was not interested in differentiating between Taliban and Hamas but he told The News that "we are concerned that Pakistani brothers are fighting with Pakistanis, like Palestinians were fighting with Palestinians few months back, this is a conspiracy and we must defeat this conspiracy by refusing to take dictation from USA".
Some of the Hamas leaders were educated in Pakistanis universities. Many of them were part of the Afghan Jihad against former Soviet Union. Most of them were close to Dr. Abdullah Azzam who was also a mentor of Osama bin Ladin in early 80's. But they don't want to mix their identity with Taliban or al-Qaeda. These Hamas leaders can speak good Urdu. One of them said that anyone bombing schools in the name of Islam is actually giving a bad name not only to Taliban but to all the Muslims and we condemn bombing of schools.
Hamas sources claimed that they have more than 20,000 fidaeens and they can create hell for the Israel and its western allies, but "we don't want to kill innocent non-Muslims in the name of Jihad".
It is a historical fact that both Hamas and Taliban were born in the refugee camps. West was sympathetic to both of them in the early years. According to some analysts initially US and Israel encouraged Hamas to blackmail PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Israel released Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yasin from its prisons with the guarantees given by Jordan in 1997 but Sheikh Ahmad Yasin was not ready to take dictation from the West. Within two years, Hamas was banned in Jordan in 1999.
Same was the case with Taliban. US government encouraged Taliban in 1994 through Benazir Bhutto government in Pakistan just to counter Afghan guerilla leader Gulbadin Hekmatyar who was getting close to Iran. When Taliban provided shelter to Osama bin Laden in 1996 and refused to listen to US it was declared a terrorist outfit.
The biggest difference between Taliban and Hamas is about their approach to democracy. Hamas believe in democracy. Hamas boycotted Presidential election in 2004, but then decided to participate in local bodies election. Hamas did well in local bodies and then got majority in the parliamentary election of 2006.
On the other side, Taliban have no faith in democracy. Hamas launched its own television channel with the name of Al-Aqsa TV in 2005 while Pakistani Taliban are still banning cable and breaking television sets in the areas of their control.
Hamas was previously not ready to listen to countries other than Syria and Iran. Now they have showed flexibility by meeting Egyptian officials in Cairo. Egypt organised a meeting between Hamas and Al Fatah leaders to resolve their differences. Israel is not happy with Egypt these days, but Egyptian President Air Marshell (retired) Hosni Mobarik is aware about the growing public anger in Arab masses against Israel and US. He is trying to cool down the public anger despite the fact that US will also not be happy to welcome Hamas leaders in Cairo who were declared terrorists not only by US but also by EU, Canada and Australia on Israeli pressure. Hamas and Al Fatah sources in Gaza are expecting something very positive out of Cairo talks. There will be some stability in the region for few months. At least Palestinian factions will be ready to form a unity government in the area surrounded from three sides by Israel.
Egypt never allowed US and Israeli ships to monitor Hamas activities from its waters. Both Egypt and Pakistan are major US allies in war against terror but Egyptian leadership is showing more courage than Pakistani leadership. Pakistani leaders are only making statements against the US drone attacks and attacks are not stopped. There is no positive and result oriented engagement of Taliban by Pakistani government. Hamas leader Ihab al-Ghusseini asked me that "US have declared Hamas and Taliban terrorist, if Egyptians can receive us in Cairo then why the Pakistanis cannot invite Taliban in Islamabad?" I had no answer.

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