The day bullet humbled vote (23-02-2009)

Alas, ballot power had to surrender to the bullet power on the mountains and in the valleys of Swat. After killing about 1500 law enforcing agencies personals; after murdering over 100 ANP leaders and their kith and kin; after blasting around150 schools; after destroying Swat tourism industry which provided jobs to hundreds and thousands of the local inhabitants; after ruining the small industries and rendering over 100,000 worker jobless; and after displacing around 400,000 people, Muallana Fazlullah has managed to bring the government on the knees.

Most of the political parties have supported the ANP and PPP-led coalition move to offer enforcement of Nizam-e-Adl in Malakand Division. The one time secular ANP leader was telling us on one of the channels, the other day that 99% of the people wanted Sharia’h driven Nizam-e-Adl. If that is so then why most of the voters of this region voted for ANP which never promised Sharia’h laws in the election campaign? Nobody asked the erstwhile ANP leader this question.

Some leaders and journalists are telling us that all the killings in Swat were for the quicker and effective judicial system implementation. If that is so then why the people of entire Pakistan are not picking up arms against the corrupt painfully slow judicial system? Killing and hanging bodies on poles, bombing and whipping for a civilised cause is not justified both from religious and secular standpoint. It’s barbaric. So it’s naive to believe that the long-drawn battle was just for an effective judicial system. There is definitely more to it than what our detractors want us to believe. The struggle of Taliban of all brands is for bringing a Sharia’h revolution in Pakistan a la Mullah Umer style. Inspired by Al Qaeda these Taliban leaders believe in the world Islamic revolution starting from a base.

Majority of the media and political parties are looking at the accord with TNSM Muallana Sufi Mohammed as a right move for buying peace. Whether a long-term peace can be achieved through such short-sighted accords remains to be seen. But one thing is certain that it has opened a Pandora’s Box for Pakistan. The message this accord has given is that if you can raise an armed force of 20-30 thousand people and be persistent, you can have a custom made judicial system fully-loaded with your choice of Sharia’h.

Undoubtedly, peace is important and little respite is welcomed by the people who have been living under the cross fire of Swat Taliban and the army. So if you take the camera around on the eve of triumphant ‘Qafla-e-Shariat’ march people are not going to criticize the accord. They also fear for their life before commenting on this accord because Swat Taliban have been silencing all dissent for the last three years.

Sufi Mohammed is on record that he wants to carry his movement for the imposition of Sharia’h to all of Pakistan in second phase, after establishing his foothold in Swat. He is the man who led 10,000 young Jihadis to Afghanistan to support the falling Taliban government in 2001 and then escaped the front when the war got hot. Many young boys were misled by him and were killed or taken prisoner in Afghanistan. He was arrested for attacking a neighbouring country. Today the same man has been asked to broker a peace deal with his militant son-in-law. The government may be thinking that it has managed to isolate the son-in-law by moving the father-in-law. The point that is missed here is that both of them are two faces of the same coin like SSP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Yes, in politics we have to be pragmatic but that doesn’t mean we should disregard what is good and what is not good for the country in the long run. The government should have encouraged and supported the local people to resist the Swat Taliban. Now the people like Lala Afzal must be feeling that their sacrifices have gone waste. People want an ally which can be relied on in the struggle against Taliban and not the government who would give in to the fascist forces.

It is advocated by the supporter of the accord that the government has to negotiate with the people as you cannot use military indefinitely against your own people. Absolutely right. But what they fail to recognise is that if a group of people has taken up arms against its own people and the state, you only negotiate peace from the position of power. Everybody knows that eventually the solutions are found on the negotiation table, but it shouldn’t be on basic principles. As this basic principle of politics and negotiation is violated I fear many more Swats in the country. If in PATA Taliban can have their way, then what can stop the FATA Taliban and tomorrow may be Islamabad Taliban. After all we have over 150 Madaaris in the capital city full with non-resident boarding students. (ayazbabar@gmail.com)

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