A very sad article by Shaheen Sardari Ali, a Swati, and the first woman cabinet member of NWFP, which raises a lot of unanswered questions about the nature of the militancy in Swat since 1994:
How true is it seeds of the present situation were sown by institutions responsible for upholding and protecting the national interest in 1994 when Sufi Mohammad took Swat and the entire governmental machinery hostage. The ‘black turbans’, as they were called simply emerged as if from nowhere and before anyone could take a deep breath, had spread themselves across the valley. The government of the time gave them some crumbs in the form of the Nizam-i-adl regulation 1994, re-named judges and courts by using the names Qazi, Ilaqa Qazi etc., and assigned supposedly Shari’a literate muavin or advisers to assist the Qazi in administration of justice to make sure it was Shari’a compliant. People of the Malakand division as it was then called, had a choice to use the ‘Islamic law’ or the ‘regular’ law of the country. It is no secret that apart from a few women daring to challenge their male relatives to obtain their inheritance by using Islamic law, all and sundry stuck to the civil and criminal law of the country.
Sufi Muhammad, of course, is now being touted as a more “moderate” alternative to his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah. There was something particularly obscene about this report in Dawn today about Farzana Raja of the PPP and Chairperson of the Benazir Income support program coming to an agreement with Sufi Muhammad about the BISP in FATA and Swat:
BISP Chairperson Farzana Raja presided over the meeting held in collaboration with the Iqbal International Institute for Research and International Islamic University.
The topic of discussion was “Democracy and Social Welfare Programme for Poor, especially Women, in the light of Shariah.”
Ms Raja thanked Sufi Mohammad for his support to the programme.
She questioned the logic for opposing the programme since the 1973 Constitution clearly stated that country’s laws must conform to the Quran and Sunnah.
Amazing how the PPP is bending over backwards to compromise with individuals like this. It would be one thing if this compromise actually achieved any kind of peace in the region (although even then, it would be debatable whether negotiating with someone like Sufi Muhammad would be ethical) but what has been accomplished, exactly, since Sufi Muhammad was released from jail last year for the specific purpose of acting as an establishment counterfoil to Fazlullah?
In any case, there are very strong indications that the establishment is maintaining its ties to Maulana Fazlullah, himself. Kamran Shafi, in his op-ed today bluntly says:
Visitors to Swat tell of Pakistan Army and Taliban check posts a few hundred metres apart, army vehicles passing through Taliban check posts too. Why? Are they cooperating to strike the fear of God into our hearts? And for telling their paymaster, Amreeka Bahadur, that the problem is far bigger than it really is, so go on coughing up those luscious dollars?
All of this reminds me of this account of the end of Pakistan’s failed first operation in South Waziristan in 2004 in Dexter Filkins’ excellent article of a few months ago:
Called Operation Shakai, the offensive was ostensibly aimed at ridding the area of Taliban militants. From an American perspective, the operation was a total failure. The army invaded, fought and then made a deal with one of the militant commanders, Nek Mohammed. The agreement was capped by a dramatic meeting between Mohammed and Safdar Hussein, one of the most senior officers in the Pakistan Army.
“The corps commander was flown in on a helicopter,” the former official said. “They had this big ceremony, and they embraced. They called each other mujahids. ”
Seems like no matter how idiotic and detached from reality the plans of the Army leadership are, the public will always be dumber and believe them.