I’ve been looking at the pictures of the rallies in Pakistan for Gaza and it’s made me really angry. You see, it’s not just the crazed Jamaatis who are marching, it’s also the high-faluting civil society types, and I just don’t get how they can be doing this when Pakistan is on the point of losing control of Swat, possibly forever. Someone once told me that he thought that even the most liberal Muslims had internalized the Pan-Islamist defensiveness of Islam’s boundaries without realizing it so they are outraged about Israel-Palestine and justify their outrage by calling it a human rights issue, without realizing that they are simply defending the borders of Islam. Does that sound harsh? An alternative phrasing proposed by Samuel Huntingdon is that people are naturally more defensive of their civilization’s boundaries than of what are basically strategically insignificant civil wars within its borders.
Be that as it may, there are also many others of the realist persuasion who have given up on the desirability of ever integrating FATA into Pakistan and seem to, by extension, have given up on most of the NWFP as well. You know all those cartoons and bitter jokes about Pakistan being the United States’ cast aside condom in the anti-Soviet war. Well, it doesn’t take much to realize that NWFP and FATA are the used condom to Pakistan’s United States, except by magically absolving ourselves of any blame for the creation of the Taliban (which is our national special talent), we are absolving ourselves of any responsibility for the region’s present dysfunction. After all, they are just a bunch of backward tribal savages who were prone to radicalization anyway.
Yesterday I had a conversation with a Pathan who couldn’t understand why Pakistanis could come out in the thousands to protest the actions of the IDF but couldn’t muster more than a “hmm, it’s terrible” for what was happening to his province. I actually watched as someone else, a so-called liberal, explained to him why the Gaza conflict, an internationally significant one, is much more important than a local conflict like Swat. I wonder if he would feel the same way if Submarine chowk was filled with bodies of executed Karachiites every morning. Somehow, I doubt it.
It is becoming a fashion to protest over international issues rather than home-related matters. Outside issues are treated as green channel whereas local are put in backyard and handled as custom clearance.
Israel’s attack on Gaza and the killing of 900 Palestinians is of course something that deserves the severest of condemnation. However, our grievances are from our political leaders. The PML-N, the PML-Q, the JI and the ulema have all strongly condemned what has been happening in Gaza. But, most regrettably, they are completely silent over the issue of Swat, Bajaur and Waziristan where thousands of innocent people have died.
Most of the important people have left Swat. We have great respect for Afzal Khan Lala who is alone fighting against these extremists. He is our real leader.
Swatis are fed up with the present situation. They are ready to cry, die or even kill. They need peace in restive Swat. Only a leader is needed to lead them in right way. Once a woman wrote to Muhammad bin Qasim for help. Now I am writing to Imran Khan and Achakzai. They have spent much time in Swat and know the psyche of these people. Swatis also love them. We request both to come to Swat and bring the people out of there terrible ordeal.