Swat: local issue?

This episode of Kal Tak about the agreement with TNSM is essential watching to understand why no secular parties will ever be able to challenge the combination of religious parties (who ostensibly are opposed to the Taliban, yeah right!), right-wing media, and the Taliban.

The host Javed Chauhdry talks at length about this being a local issue, transitioning directly from the abolition of the princely state of Swat to the TNSM movement (Javed Chaudhry doesn’t mention PATA regulation directly, all he says is that the people of Swat were not used to “English” laws and couldn’t adjust, and then the TNSM movement started). Rahat Hussain, the JUI-F senator, pretty much follows the same line, emphasizing that this is a local movement.

Then Muslim Khan, TNSM spokesman, calls in and contradicts everything Javed Chaudhry and Rahat Hussain said by explicitly saying that their movement is not just for Swat, not just for Pakistan, but for the whole world.

Marvi Memon (PML-Q MNA) starts talking and makes two points: 1. Pakistan already follows Shariah because of clause in the constitution about no laws in Pakistan going against Islam, and 2) even if Shariah was to be brought to the rest of Pakistan, there are “thousands” of ways to establish it. Rahat Hussain immediately debunks these arguments by saying that there is theory (constitution) and practice (penal code) and that having that clause in the constitution does not mean that Pakistani law is, in practice, Shariah. No one can say anything to oppose that. Infuriatingly, after making this unassailable argument for Shariah in the whole country, Rahat Hussain immediately transitions into talking about the issue being local to Swat.


10 responses to “Swat: local issue?

  1. Publius

    I would posit that Pakistani ‘seculars’ are desperate to depict swat as *only* a local issue because they don’t want to face up to the implications of the fundamentals of Pakistani state( i.e Islam as the non negotiable basis of polity).

    They implicitly understand that those fundamentals imply shariah in their own lives, which they don’t want, but nor do they want to challenge the fundamentals.

    Hence the obfuscations and evasions.

    Ayn rand formulated 3 simple rules about ideological conflicts which are relevant here:

    1) In any conflict between two men( or groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins.

    2) In any collaboration between two men( or groups) who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins.

    3)When opposite principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side.

  2. Rabia

    that’s true. Also, I think that it’s in the interest of the religious rightwingers to depict it as a local issue so that they get what they are demanding.

  3. Publius

    “interest of the religious rightwingers to depict it as a local issue so that they get”

    Yep but that strategy crucially depends upon the self-delusion of their ‘secular’ audience.

    “Useful idiots” don’t you think ?

  4. takhalus

    publius great post

  5. Rabia

    “Yep but that strategy crucially depends upon the self-delusion of their ’secular’ audience.”

    Yeah, very true. The issue also is that the westernized Pakistanis tend to see situations like this as a conflict between traditional tribal pashtun values and other Pakistani values whereas it would serve them much better to see this as the natural result of the unresolved contradictions within the Pakistani state.

  6. takhalus

    Rabia good point..I am not sure if it was Zahid Hussain or Ahmed Rashid who described, the year before Musharrafs departure as a military state collapsing not because the political opposition was in anyway formidable but collapsing because of it’s own contradictions.

  7. does it honestly make a difference? if there is one thing pakistanis exhibit with wanton abandon, it is the ability to take a system and exploit it to the maximum for their own nefarious purposes…

    so we get sharia law – it would most likely result in a spike in cultural and social restrictions, leading to bigoted treatment of minorities and women. well guess what, that already happens at a reprehensible rate in pakistan.

    beyond that, since it is bleeding obvious that no serious scholar is being asked to formulate honestly sharia laws, we can assume that the system would be based on whatever snippets of religious law those in power would wish to incorporate. and i can guarantee you with my life that once pakistanis are given a system they feel is imposed, they will whole-heartedly exploit it, obeying it in letter but not in spirit.

  8. Off-topic, but I’m warning you to not get into it with the nutter commenter on Rs.5 because he is completely batshit crazy (not to mention a rude little motherfucker). Trust me on this, I’ve been involved a number of times with him and have learned the hard way that the best way to deal with him is to avoid him and his “arguments”.

  9. Publius

    Here is another moving and disturbing report about swat:

    This particular boy had an uncle who was killed. He could not go back to Swat because the Taliban had set up check points with long lists of names of people they would abduct, or do worse. He had been marked for death. Whenever he could, he would visit Swat to avoid the roads where the Taliban roamed. He said even in the idyll of the evenings the air was filled with terror.

    Young children not old enough to be at a funeral had seen dead bodies in the streets. The slightest offenses mandated death. His gripe was the same refrain, he had never seen dead militants, every action whether by the Army or the Taliban seemed to result in the loss of life for civilians. The colour green had bled to red, the green chowk now known as the Khooni Chowk. His old school was gone, the entire middle class with enough money to do so had taken their daughters out of the city. Schools were either occupied by the Taliban or the forces, and those that weren’t had been destroyed. Those that remain face an uncertain future. He didn’t believe the government was serious at all in doing anything for them.

    “It’s best summarized by what one reader wrote to me. He said, “Please we cannot take this anymore, from the savagery of the Taliban to the indifference of the government. Please use atom bombs on us, it will end our misery.”


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