Articles of the year 2009

Published on February 21st, 2009

Maulana Sufi, the conqueror of Swat has succeeded in bringing the formidable Government of the Frontier to its knees signing an agreement in principle with the ANP leadership, ordering the withdrawal of the Pakistan army, and the establishing of his Sharia throughout Swat.

This has sent anxiety ripples throughout the other religious sects Shias, Agha Khanis, women etc etc, all worried that their rights may be trampled as not in consonance with the diktat of Maulana Sufi.

This does not include the latent threat of the Maulana in claiming that he will not stop till his brand has been established throughout the Province, and then the whole of Pakistan. Not only is this a tall order, but it could trigger the breakaway of other similar preachers with their own brands.

For instance there is one faction that allows Haj at one point in Balochistan, and this Haj they claim will bestow two and a half of the regular Hajs. Thus what Maulana Sufi's brand may do to the beliefs of the others will remain to be seen.

The other important point being that someone will have to enforce whatever law is subscribed, be it Roman, English, Islamic Shiite, or Sunni, r now Sufi. Who will be the enforcer?

As the Pakistan Army has been ordered to with draw by the elected Government then who will be the keeper of the faith, or will the Maulana's Taliban control the streets, and the people? Will the Taliban laws as practiced in Afghanistan be proscribed for Pakistan? What will be then the Army's role? These are the multiple layers of problems facing Swat, with consequential ripples radiating outward from Mingora.

For the time being the Western powers including NATO, US and the Allied forces are voicing their serious concerns. The Polish Government is still asking for the arrest and punishment of the murderers of their Polish citizen who was recently beheaded on camera, with the Video sent to Pakistan for good measure.

Are the Pakistani people prepared to knuckle down to a Mullah dictator who has risen by the sword, and is holding one of the finest fighting armies to ransom? With a following of only 1500 men, will it not encourage some other Mullah to try his luck?

The major concern in the rest of the country is that there are very many highly trained and disciplined ex servicemen out of jobs, and who would be willing to join such outfits. Suddenly Maulana's runaway success has made the new role of the Religious mafia an attractive employment source. It does appear that Gen Hamid Gul's exhortations for Jihad were more successful than originally thought.

More serious is the impression throughout the world that Gen Musharraf had been duplicitous in his dealings with the US, and more dangerous is that his double dealing lead to Pakistani soldiers being targeted by US troops, and vice versa.

This upsets the Americans, and of course the Pakistani Army does not take kindly to its soldiers being led into traps. A soldier's life is valuable to its army, collateral damage is a word used for civilian deaths soldiers are never referred to in this manner.

The soldier is prepared to sacrifice his life for his country, but not to be thrown as a red herring. The Americans are far far angrier. The Americans do not like to be made fools of, and they are now convinced they have been suckered for nine years and billions of dollars.

We Pakistanis, have lost thousands of lives, including many innocent civilians. The billions of Dollars have vanished without a trace, and our people have sunk to an abysmal 50% below the Poverty line. While our leadership played Jihadis and Kafirs in the hills, the people remained poor.

Instead of using this as an opportunity to bring this great country into a special relationship with the west, we have been relegated by our myopic leadership, into a situation where our citizens are barred from getting visas, our children are denied higher education abroad, and even specialized medical treatment is out of our reach. We are pariahs in the world, with our allies using our soldiers as cannon fodder our best fighters being sacrificed daily. Yet our people cannot avail normal facilities available to other nationalities, so firmly have we been typecast as the villains. Do we deserve this treatment for the 4% of our population that is the Religious Right.

The Americans and their Allies are mulling over the latest Swat deals, and let us be sure that when they do plan their new strategy, they will be ruthless, for, like their drones, the pilots sitting in Las Vegas feel no remorse, and consider it a video game.

To the new zealous followers of Maulana Sufi, death will come swiftly, and silently. Making the beheadings child's play. The expression sitting ducks will soon be an appropriate sobriquet. The targets will soon be traced to their havens even including those in the assemblies. Now that the Iraq war is over, the Americans are going to get serious in Pakistan.

Before the rhetoric is ratcheted up, we should be very clear that the US has shown that, as in Gaza, mercy, is not in their lexicon.