With the fresh operation of the security forces in Lower Dir in NWFP and information emerging that security forces are moving in to secure Buner, the fragile peace deal in Swat seems to be on the brink. Even those who were very optimistic after Nizam-e-Adl Regulation was signed and sealed by the President of Pakistan on the recommendation of the National Assembly knew that it could not last for long.
The developments in Swat and Buner in the immediate aftermath of the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation had started to expose the real agenda of the Swat Taliban and their so-called peaceful mentor Sufi Mohammad. If anyone had any doubts that Taliban in Swat or for that matter anywhere in Pakistan were trying to bring Shariat to the Land of Pure, they stood corrected. The real agenda of the Taliban and their like minded is to gain political power through guns and impose their myopic worldview on the people. Those who have studied and witnessed the propaganda literature of Taliban know it very well.
There were a large part of the silent Pakistanis from the day one who had opposed giving in to the demands of Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Mohammadi without clear understanding on peace and disarming of Maulvi Mullah group. While it is one thing to demand a system of quick and fair dispensation of justice, it is entirely a different issue that one group should be given primacy in interpreting Islam and Shariat. When the agreement with TNSM was criticized, it was often misconstrued as if speedy and fair justice was being opposed. The reality was that the opponents of the whole process wanted that instituting any such system must be under the Constitution of Pakistan and must be managed by the state not armed groups.
Maulana Sufi Mohammad after entering into an agreement with Awami National Party that runs the provincial government in NWFP had received a hero’s welcome in Swat and in the Pakistani media. Most people who wanted peace to return to Swat were hopeful that the misery that the common people of Swat were suffering would soon be over. Peace will reign supreme, government’s writ will be restored, economic activity will return and perhaps someday this beautiful valley will again see tourists from all over Pakistan if not from the outside world.
Infact the agreement was pushed down the throat of the people of Pakistan with the sweetener that Taliban will disarm and stop harassing the common people. But what we had seen in the days after this agreement was signed was that Taliban were still roaming the area in their pickup trucks, kidnapping the security forces personnel and holding their own courts. In the name of monitoring the implementation of the agreement they continued to be armed and had started to enter other
areas. Their putsch into Buner further bears testimony to the fact that the dynamics of power achieved through guns inherently force the perceived victor to find new avenues for flexing muscles. That is why the civilized world has institutionalized power through democratic processes.
The statements of Muslim Khan, a spokesman of Tehrik-e-Tal-iban and Amir Izzat spokesman of TNSM were eye opening from the beginning. While Muslim Khan had gone as far ahead as inviting Osama bin Laden to stay with him, Amir Izzat had informed us that all Qazis in Malakand division would be selected and approved by Sufi Mohammad. Only when TNSM realized that this statement might completely push ANP to the wall that they backtracked.
Sufi Mohammad’s understanding of Islam and the modern world was exposed the very day he stood on Grassy Ground and declared democracy un-Islamic and thereby
the constitution, the high courts and the Supreme Court as instruments of Kufr. He also went as far ahead as announcing that only a black coloured turban is according to the Sunnah. His diatribe against democracy and state institutions are self-contradictory at best. Even the agreement he signed and the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation have been legalized under specific articles of the constitution.
Despite some provocative statements and actions of the Taliban and TNSM, ANP seemed committed in fulfilling its promises to the extremists. But from here onwards the real test also starts for ANP leadership. They will have to soon respond to the pressure from their own constituents remain committed to secular and liberal ideals. It will also have to see how the writ of the government will be re-established in Malakand division through a person (Sufi Mohammad) who refuses to recognize the constitution of Pakistan. How will
ANP be able to change the mindset of those who even justify attacking mosques? ANP will soon realize that it cannot survive in the political arena by succumbing to the pressure of Taliban and acceding to their demands. It is surely not going to appeal for votes from Taliban in any future elections.
The political leadership in all parts of Pakistan needs to take a firm stand on the issue and not confuse the issues anymore. It is good to see that PML-N leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also started to realize the gravity of the situation and is now openly condemning the mindset of Taliban. Sufi Muhammad’s latest speech even irked Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman of JUI-F and Munawar Hassan of Jamat-e-Islami. Though the two gentlemen still remain confused and still think that Pakistan can disassociate itself from this battle against terrorism. They should understand that we have to fight this battle with or without USA. Extremists are not going to change their ways until and unless they are defeated intellectually and militarily. If the world is ready to join hands with us we can welcome such a support within the bounds of our national integrity.
Now when the president, the prime minister and chief of the army staff have spoken and made their intentions clear that they won’t let Taliban create a state within a state, time for action by the common people has also arrived. The media and the civil society need to stand behind the political government and the military. The problem that Pakistan military faced in the operation against TTP Swat was that the media and the civil society did not provide it enough moral support. The people of Pakistan are not prepared for the human costs that such an operation will carry. Pakistan military is fully capable of handling these extremists but this won’t be possible until it is provided with M support. Only an alarmist attitude won’t resolve anything. It is time for the people of Pakistan to respond back to the Taliban mindset. It is the mindset that needs to be defeated and those who believe in a modem and progressive Pakistan need to raise their voices.