Articles of the year 2005

The First Nail in the Coffin
Published on February 03rd, 2005

The Talibanization of the NWFP has taken quite a while, but has finally made its presence known by the new bill that has been tabled in the Provincial Assembly banning Advertisements showing female faces, and the banning of dancing in Public and private places. No doubt the punishments will also be suitably Islamic, through the MMA interpretation of the Holy Koran. This could be the first nail in the coffin of the Moderate Islam known and loved by us all.Unfortunately for us, and as Pakistan is very much part of the World's (not just the Americans) war against terror, this will definitely give the Hawks in the Bush administration yet another argument in favor of lumping Pakistan with the Terrorist camps. The American media will also kick into high gear, where the battle lines between the civilizations has already been drawn, the barbaric excesses of the Taliban will once again be pinned on Islam. This is most unfortunate, and we Muslims can scream that this is not the Islamic way , yet as this area falls within the borders of Pakistan, we shall be tarred with the same brush.

The implications are not as simple as they would appear. We have already seen that Karachi a city that was well known throughout the Country for its night life, was robbed of its spirit (s) by Bhutto in a fit of desperation, and then the 11 years of Zia on the pretext that it would make for a better place to live in , has proven to be a complete sham. Karachi today is the crime Capitol of Pakistan. Whereas most places would serve meals till the early hours, and a hearty breakfast to the later or earlier birds, today, to return to Karachi on an early morning flight one has to run the gauntlet of highwaymen on Shahrah-e-Faisal.! We have the highest incidence of Mobile Snatching,and Carnapping of the Country. If one considers that these as highly dangerous crimes being done at gun point, we could easily become the murder capitol of the world.

This wave of crime has driven away all airlines to relocate to hubs in the Gulf, the largest being in Dubai. It is indeed a shame that Karachi which was once host to all the flights between Europe and the far East British Airways,KLM,Air France, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, has surrendered this position, and the financial benefits that it derived from them. It has been calculated that the Airlines spend over 5 Billion US$ annually in just using Dubai. Equal to 60% of our entire annual exports. This does not include the traffic that passes through. This also does not quantify the goodwill that is generated for Dubai by the Airline crews when they go back to their Countries. Or the highly trained personnel of the ground crews that have been made redundant.

Our beautiful 400 Million US $ airport lying empty, and serving only 4 International flights daily is a stark monument to the disastrous policies of the successive Govts. The effects on our Tourist trade are immense, as it will be inferred that we do not want foreigners and we would like to discourage their trips here. The President has spoken at length, on Moderate Islam, and that we are in danger of being over run by the hard core fundamentalists that are hijacking our beautiful religion, to serve their own agenda. It is indeed a pity that such a key Province is being held to ransom a by a small minority of bigots bent upon imposing their narrow views on the rest.It is time that the Federal Govt whose representative is the Governor of the Province should be asked to consider the impact of their policies on the rest of the Federation, and would this bill not jeopardize the image of Pakistan, and the economic fallout that could result. The MMA Govt may choose to overlook these issues as being unimportant –to them, but we the majority can see an alarming downside. It is obvious that in Baluchistan the MMA has not been able to staunch the challenge to the Centre. In the NWFP the MMA govt in lending tacit support to the renegade Mahsud is now opening a new public avowal of the Taliban dictum.

The time has come for the President to display his commitment to the Moderate Islam he has been advocating, and crack down on the hardcore elements that are threatening to legitimize their rigid theocracy. Gen. Musharraf has already been branded as an enemy , and with two attempts on his life, he must take a firm position a'la Bush and root out the enemy whether they are in the hills of Wana or in the Assemblies.