Articles of the year 2009

Published: April 18th, 2009

Pakistanis watched in horror as the National Assembly passed the Swat Nizam-i-Adl bill unanimously, indicating that the elected representatives had given their assent, to the surrender of eight districts of the North to Maulana Sufi and his followers. Not a single voice was raised in dissent, and the MNAs were seen congratulating each other, on being better Muslims than in the past.

The nation witnessed the whipping of Swat without a whimper.

Complete administrative control was given over with the caveat that there would be no interference from the Federation, in fact complete independence had just been granted to Swat, a State that was inhabited by a people noted for their peaceful nature. This independence was wrested from the centre by a small band of the elements whose main weapon was murder and brutality.

The people of Pakistan are confused, for the elections of February did not give a mandate to the elected representatives to negotiate surrenders of Pakistani territory to anyone regardless of their creed, nor can a particular sect be allowed to dictate to the rest of the nation the imposition of its particular laws, or punishments.

The army, of whom we are very proud, has served us well, and has fought hard when called upon, even though outmanned and out gunned as in the war of 71. However in Swat to refuse to fight untrained and ill-equipped militants, is sending the wrong signals, to our allies (the US) and foes (especially the Indians). A message that indicates that the army does not have the stomach for a fight. The insurgents here like the Tamil tigers (who incidentally) invented the 'suicider', a new weapon in the arsenal of insurgents, and adopted with devastating effect by the rest of the world are proving that a small group of dedicated men can paralyze a far greater force and heroes have been created in history, by just such means. The loser faces not just defeat, but loss of face, which seems to be the case in the battle for Swat. It is therefore important that the Pakistan army march back into Swat quickly, before the hard won reputation as brave warriors be lost forever.

Our bitter enemies the Indians are now insinuating that they may have to protect Pakistan from the Islamic militants - a nice twist. These then, are the dangerous perceptions that could create havoc with our defence capabilities. In matters of war, more importantly than of peace, perceptions matter greatly. An attack or threat is planned with the inputs from all sources that include the assessments of capabilities, where perceptions play a huge part, in the planning stage. The federal government must decide quickly that as the stakes are enormous, it should work in tandem, together with the elected provincial parliamentarians to bring peace with honour in Swat. There should be no appeasement with the militants, nor an amnesty to the decapitators. The NRO cannot be expanded to include murderers.

General Petraeus said: " We will go it alone if need be." The US is stating its position, of going it alone. This will indeed be a black mark on our sovereignty, to be told to step aside by an ally, and to let them finish the job. A deep insult in battle terminology. The reputation of the Pakistan army, and the respect of the Pakistani people is at stake here and is not on offer. So General Kayani must do his duty, and clean up the mess that is of Pakistani creation, and costing Pakistani lives. These lives are precious, and the gruesome image that is spread of Pakistan in the world cannot be measured. The head of the largest oil marketing company in Pakistan, on a trip to the ME rang the Minister of Oil, Iraq, and invited him to Pakistan, and was delicately informed that Pakistan was too dangerous a place to visit. Coming from someone based in downtown Baghdad should make our leaders think very seriously.